Saturday, May 12, 2012

Global Greens Congress, Dakar 2012, Senegal

The Global Greens held their third congress in Dakar, Senegal, hosted by the African Greens Network, from 28 March to 1 April 2012. I arrived in Senegal on Friday a week before the congress and spent some time exploring Dakar, but as well helped with the information, registration and language session for the young volunteers from the Senegalese Greens (Fédération Démocratique des Ecologistes du Sénégal (FEDES) prior to the congress.
Once the congress began, the first two days were committed to the Regional Network meetings, and the Global Young Greens. I only attended the first session of the network meeting where APGN members contributed summing up in a few minutes the most recent greens development in their country. I was surprised that not all APGN members were actually proper political parties, but some of them were environmental groups currently under stringent discussions whether they actually should seek party status in their country and what negative ramifications such a move would have.
My main role was to look after 17 members of the Asia Pacific Greens Network (APGN) including people from The Philippines, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Salomon Islands, PNG, Vietnam and Indonesia. What a diversity of people and what a similarity of issues; what a friendly bunch of delegates with a green heart and a passion for the green cause. Lots of things needed to be sorted as one of my roles was to assist the APGN delegates with any issues they might have; and there were many: lost luggage, vaccination issues, unwanted smells (we lived very close to the fishing harbour), issues with water, transport and food for vegetarians.
Furthermore everything happened in French. It’s not my native tongue but I speak it well and benefited from the German education system which made me learn French from year 7 in High School. This education gave me the basic language knowledge to survive; and the many years travelling in French speaking countries gave me the vernacular and the experience to thrive.
As everything went so well and people were very happy I was roped in by Margaret Blakers, the ‘mother’ of the Global Greens, to support the Resolutions Committee, where I worked especially with John Sutton from Newcastle. This required much negotiating, language switching and hands-on work with computer, paper and sticky tape.
The main themes for the Global Greens Congress and its 500 participants from nearly 90 countries were:            
1.       The Future of the Global Greens (including updating the Global Greens Charter)
2.       Climate Change
3.       Biodiversity
4.       Green Economy
5.       Democracy in Africa (and beyond)
Most resolutions were passed by consensus. They are now publicly available here:
The Australian Greens also held a stall to raise additional money for the Global Greens. The stall was very popular, and we could have sold many t-shirts and many more badges had we had more. Leonie Lundy from WA gave some of her time as a volunteer on the stall and the equivalent of 290 was raised.
My travel and participation at the Congress as a volunteer was paid for by the Australian Political Parties for Democracy Program (APDDP) under the Global Greens Congress Skills Exchange Program that aims to enhance the communication and collaboration between greens parties in the Asia Pacific Region. Unfortunately, due to the amount of work that needed to be done at the Congreee, I was only able to attend the workshop which I facilitated on RIO+20 and the main session on the last day.
I am very proud of the outcome of the RIO+2- workshop, as the final resolution defines the Greens vision of an Inclusive Green Economy after long negotiations as an economy that -
         i.            Incorporates the true costs of increasingly scarce natural resources and recognises the value of common goods and services of nature;
       ii.            Adopts innovative technology and eco-efficient and low carbon practices;
      iii.            Commits to durable goods and the end of inbuilt obsolescence;
     iv.            Proposes new forms of organisation of solidarity economy creating new bottom-up opportunities for all and investing in education;
       v.            Shifts from consumer-based economies to a focus on wellbeing, culture and healthier communities, with the full participation of civil society;
     vi.            Must be inclusive and reduce inequalities and poverty.

The final session was very positive, and often interrupted by claps and cheers. Delegates from across the world were coming together to decide on the resolutions which demonstrated the sense of our Green tribe working together for common goals, with common values, and a common sense of social justice and a green future.
Without French language skills this experience would not have been the same. I consider myself very lucky to be able to speak more than one language well.

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