Tuesday, 24 May 2011

BFOE Goes to Holland – Day 3

Day 3 was the day for the big ideas and the involvement of some of the heads of FoE Europe. From the UK, Andy Adkins (the executive director of England, Wales and Northern Ireland) was there, as were Mike Childs (Head of Climate), Sarah Jane Clifton (International Climate Campaigner) and Helen Wolfson (International Coordinator).

The event was labelled as a pre-conference before the FoE Europe AGM the following day and explored the theme "North and South: how do we connect in a united struggle for a sustainable world?".

First of all, there was a recorded presentation from Duncan McClaren (described as a man with a big brain and head of FoE Scotland at the moment) on the need for urgent transformation and presenting some of the things that FoE needs to think about in achieving this transformation. This was really thought-provoking and set the tone for the day very well, although we all recognised the need to go from this theoretical framework to more practical applications. I will provide a link to the presentation when I get it.

After that we heard evidence from Eric Doo on the impact of what Shell is doing in Nigeria and the need to tackle this internationally. FoE Europe produced an excellent “erratum” to the Shell annual report highlighting what need to be done. There was also information on what the legal and financial teams have been doing to combat the power of corporations in Europe.

Corporate Power and the link to people's daily lives was the theme of the next part and we heard some fascinating stories from Holland on ensuring that their council was keeping their promises on using FSC timber. We also heard the story from Croatia of how they mobilised thousands of people to try and fight off the council destroying a pedestrianised public square to build a car park for a new shopping access – they lost, but the campaigning was remarkable and the precedent has changed the political landscape there now.

Finally, there were workshops on working together locally, across Europe and internationally. I was part of the team explaining what we'd done with the food chain campaign in the UK, giving the lowdown on how that has encouraged us to take more local action, such as our Meat Free Mondays campaign and work on grow-sites.

Over in Europe there seems to be a lot more concentration on fighting bad corporate practices than we have here in the UK, which is a shame, but we realise that resources are stretched at the moment and we are fighting some really important campaigns to change the legislative framework in the UK as well as doing things locally. Hopefully, we will keep up contacts better with what we can do to fight corporations who really are putting back the fight against environmental degradation.

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