Grantmakers East Forum in Tallinn!

Article published on Oct. 13, 2007
Article published on Oct. 13, 2007
From October 10 - 12 some 150 representatives from grantmaking and operating foundations as well as public and multilateral founders, head of business, politicians, intellectuals and journalists met in the comfortable rooms of Radisson hotel for exploring the impacts of today's most pressing global issues that are shaping civil societies in Central and Eastern Europe and former Soviet Union

''Something seems to be on the move in the international foundations scenario, and Tallinn, with its dynamism and development has been probably the most appropriate place in for talking about it.''thth

During these intense days of discussions, - where had the honour and pleasure to be represented by our Franco-bruxelloise Vanessa Witkowski – speakers and participants analysed together hot and sensitive issues as democracy and its controversial “exportation”, climate change, energy, youth and impact of new technologies on our societies.

Seen from an Estonian point of view – it must be quite ironic to see such a start coming from an Italian...– the risk of this conference was to make it become one of those – common – meetings where the need of networking and contact making is hidden behind interesting topics: it's not happened just once – and I'm sure it will happen again and again – to participate to events where the public statements are incredibly different from the real aims, where privileged participants are interested more on their own private outcomes than anything else.

But, honestly, I don't feel like lying when I write that this has not been the case.

It seemed to me that grantmakers, here in a cold and rainy Tallinn, have taken their seats concious of the impact that such an event can – should? - have, staying open to criticisms, listening and discussing, together, their future strategies.

But, in case you are wondering why if this event is so important it didn't have any enormous advertising, let me just give you some lines from the official press release: I'm sure that if you read carefully you will surely understand the relevance of what is happened here in Estonia.

The GEF – Grantmakers East Forum – is a unique opportunity for founders active or interested in Central Eastern Europe and Eurasia to collectively rethink traditional grantmaking approaches, establish sustainable partnerships, and work towards supporting and complementing the international agendas and activities led by politicians. EU institutions, multi-national stakeholders, NGOs and other civil society organizations which are effecting changes in the region.”

Is it enough?

I would also personally add that gathering all this people together in a place, making them discuss and plan, elaborating strategies and discovering interesting successful experiences is, even before than a great chance for this part of the continent, an enormous responsibility for the organizers of the event: the GEF steering Committee, Open Estonia Foundation and the European Foundation Centre (EFC)

A responsibility that everyone have probably faced in the best way: with a huge networking during coffee, lunch and dinner breaks but also taking incredibly seriously all the panel discussions held by first level guests as, between the others, the Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Mark Leonard from the European Council of Foreign Relations, Ivan Krastev from the International Commission on the Balkans, Nick Mabey from E3G and Frans Timmermans, Dutch Minister of European Affairs.

And our Vané, obviously.

Giovanni Angioni - Tallinn