Only those with a crystal ball know whether or not this ministerial conference will manage to reach its conclusion without suffering the anti-globalisation violence that has blighted WTO conferences since the Seattle meeting in 2000. But it is going to be a hectic week for the city's civic groups that want to voice their causes to trade ministers, as well as members of the public who want to join the anti-WTO events. Anti-WTO activities are more than protest and marches. Activists have promised the events are going to be 'carnival-like' and 'cultural and educational'. Elizabeth Tang Yin-ngor and Albert Lai Kwong-tak - representatives of two civic forces at work to mobilise the city's public attention to the WTO's work - says they hope that by organising diverse programmes, attention will be on the contents of the trade negotiation and its impact, instead of protest and security threat. Hence, activities on the card ranging from a rice festival to a book launch and film viewing; from an ecumenical women's forum to a rock concert. Diversity of events means Victoria Park is not the only venue for civil society to make their voices heard. The activities will be spreading out in different parts of the city - the harbour, the YMCA Youth village in Wu Kai Sha, the Southorn Playground in Wan Chai, the University of Hong Kong campus in the Western District, the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre and some community centres. Ms Tang is from the grass-roots Hong Kong People's Alliance on WTO, while Mr Lai speaks for the middle-class Hong Kong People's Council for Sustainable Development. Thanks to the pre-conference negotiation with the government over protest routes and gathering venues, the alliance has become a de facto mouthpiece for groups and individuals who see the WTO as the tool of rich nations and multinational companies to maximise gains at the expense of Third World countries and people. Ms Tang, who is also chief executive of the the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, says the role of the people's alliance is on logistical arrangement for organisations that want to make their voices heard. It is an umbrella group of 34 local non-governmental organisations (NGOs); it works closely with another 15 of the city's NGOs and 55 overseas NGOs. The 34 local groups are largely made up of trade unions, including the Community Care and Nursing Home Workers General Union, Construction Site Workers General Union, Filipinos Domestic Helpers General Union and the Government Mod 1 Staff General Union. Ms Tang says: 'WTO agreements affect employment opportunities and employment qualities, so trade unions are more active. Hong Kong is a developed economy, we benefit from free trade, such as the government's TV commercials that oranges are cheap because the WTO liberalises trade. But farmers growing the oranges suffer because they are forced to sell their produce cheaply in order to compete. 'Many people in Hong Kong may not see this point, but those working on regional issues know these things very well. They know how native industries and agriculture in developing nations suffer because the WTO demands cutting import tariffs.' Apart from trade unions and regional groups, such as Asia Monitor Resource Centre, Asia Student Association and Documentation for Action Groups in Asia, there are church groups and women's organisations. 'Demands are diverse; but not contradictory. So we're not going to have one single message,' Ms Tang says. They agree on one slogan - Protest against the WTO; Ensure People's Livelihood, Security and Dignity. The alliance has organised three marches for those who are against the WTO to make their voices heard. It also organised Victoria Park and the Southorn Playground in Wan Chai for NGOs to have their grass-roots carnival. Details of the activities are available on the alliance website at www.hkpaowto.org.hk . But Ms Tang's counterpart, Mr Lai, has a different idea on what sort of activities civil society should organise to raise public awareness of the WTO. The people's council wants to promote responsible trade and sustainable consumption. He is frank on the role civil societies in Hong Kong can achieve. 'We have very limited resources, it is impossible for us to act as some international NGOs, such as Oxfam, to lobby trade ministers. So we will focus on influencing the government of Hong Kong, the city's corporates and the public. 'Hong Kong is a consumption city. To influence, we begin with consumers, raising their awareness, so they will change their buying behaviour, and hopefully, this will influence corporate business patterns. Our emphasis is on the responsibility of Hong Kong as a global citizen.' The council will screen films. One documentary, produced by Hong Kong director Christina Lo, is about the plight of fishermen in the Philippines using cyanide and dynamite to catch reef fish to meet global demand. The council will be organising two guided tours, one on the illegal wildlife trade and another on urban poverty, taking the opportunity to showcase the failure of the WTO to protect the environment. Mr Lai insists protests are not going to be the council's campaign method. He and his allies prefer to influence through discussion and education. Early this year, it organised a series of talks on the WTO and its impact on global trade, people's livelihood and the environment. Oxfam Hong Kong is well known for its advocacy of fair trade. Before officials geared up for the ministerial conference, Oxfam campaigners in Hong Kong started researching the impact of the WTO on Chinese farmers and collected signatures to boost the Big Noise Campaign, which pressures trade ministers to stop dumping and make trade fair. Today, it will hand to the WTO about 10 million signatures it has gathered over the past year. A fair trade fair at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre will also open today. More than 50 fair trade producers from Asia, Africa and Latin America will set up booths, selling coffee, chocolate, spices, crafts and textiles. Organisers feel the people of Hong Kong have become more aware of the work and impact of the WTO. 'I think the people of Hong Kong will benefit from the meeting. They start to pay attention to poverty issues and understand the WTO,' Ms Tang says. 'If we have a violent-free protest, I believe the public will have more sympathy for the causes of poor nations.'