By Elise Klein, International Secretary
It has been a big year for the Australian Greens regarding our international activities. Here is a snap shot of the wonderful work going on. A special thanks to all the committed AG members on the Global Issues Group, the International Development Committee, Asia Pacific Greens Federation and our office bearers…
International Development Committee (IDC)
This year, through the Australian Political Parties for Democracy Program (APPDP), the Australian Greens have supported several initiatives including:
Supporting women, youth and Indigenous communities in the region
There is a vast disparity among the different countries in the Asia-Pacific region in terms of their strength and capacity. Many face huge challenges in the countries in which they operate on issues such as extreme environmental degradation, human rights, and gender inequality including representation of women in parliament. This year the Asia Pacific Greens Federation (APGF) is strengthening the APGF women's network, a growing Asia Pacific Young Greens network, and a committee working on the rights of indigenous peoples across APGF countries.
Asia Pacific Greens Study Tour in NSW, May 2016
During May, 22 delegates from Green parties across Asia Pacific spent 10 days in Sydney and north-east NSW, learning from the Australian and NSW Greens about our own experiences over the past 30 years. They experienced first hand the lead up to the federal election. The delegates discussed how we and they develop policies, plan election campaigns, the common issues we address through our campaigning and building organisational development. In turn we also learnt of the challenges and experiences delegates from these countries face within their own political systems and circumstances. Countries represented on the tour were: India, Indonesia, Japan, Lebanon, Mongolia, Nepal. Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Taiwan, and the Solomon Islands, joined by representatives from the Australian Greens and NSW Greens.
Highlights included a day in NSW parliament house meeting with Greens MPs, a welcome to country at Byron Bay lighthouse, a visit to the iconic forest preservation site of what is now Nightcap National Park, meeting with candidates from Sydney as well as key rural electorates, meeting many local groups, candidates and organisers so as to see election organising up close.
Asia Pacific Greens Federation Council, May 25-26 Sydney
Building from lessons and exchanges with the study tour, APGF delegates held their second annual Council meeting in Sydney. Countries represented were Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Lebanon, Mongolia, Nepal, New Zealand, the Philippines, and Taiwan. The annual Council develops stronger organisational structures and processes to promote the growth of Green parties within the Asia-Pacific region. The APGF Council will next meet following the Global Greens Congress in Liverpool in March 2017.
Supporting in-country work
IDC annually assesses party building and training projects from three to four emerging parties in the region. Over the past year in-country work supporting local Green parties has been conducted in Indonesia, the Philippines, and the Solomon Islands as well as an essential research project on emerging Green parties in the Pacific.
All of the program objectives support sustainable democratic party processes aimed at long term development while at the same time encouraging international cooperation between the Australian Greens, Asia Pacific and international Green parties.
Asia Pacific Greens Federation
APGF has successfully transitioned the organisation from the Asia Pacific Greens Network, an affiliation of member countries, to a formal legal entity registered with ASIC called Asia Pacific Greens Federation.
At the Wellington Congress in June 2015 we approved a new Constitution, appointed Members (effectively the owners), the Directors (for day-to-day operations of the group), and office bearers.
There are currently 15 Councillors representing 11 countries.
The Office Bearers are:
- Co-Convenors: Liaquat Ali Shaikh and Georgina Morrison
- Treasurer: Bob Hale
- Keli Yen stepped down from her role as APGF Convenor to be the Global Greens Secretary based in Brussels.
APGF has two employees in the Secretariat, a part time Secretary (Claire Waghorn-Lees) and a trainee from Pakistan (Saima Gul).
The Council is functioning well and meeting monthly via Skype with the Management and Administration Committee meeting fortnightly. We have also created a Women's Working Group and a Young Greens Working Group and they are meeting regularly.
There are currently 14 new groups / countries interested in joining APGF, and we are working our way through those applications. Lebanon has been admitted as an Associate member, and some of the others are Iraq, Palestine, Kyrgyzstan, and Bangladesh.
With 2016 being an election year here in Australia, we also activated our international networks to help us out. We recruited 106 overseas volunteers (almost half whom were based in London) and mobilised full-fledged polling booth coordinators in three cities: London, New York and Berlin.
In total, we covered seven international polling booths — London, New York, Berlin, Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo and Kuala Lumpur — identified because these seven booths in 2013 amounted to approx 32,500 of the 70,000 overseas voters.
Finally, we developed our first ever comprehensive, fully lower-house referenced, national How-to-Vote card for international and domestic use.
Looking Ahead: Global Greens Congress
The Global Greens Congress will be held in 2017 in Liverpool. It is a four-day event and 4000 people are expected to attend.
There will be Global Young Greens meetings, workshops and networks, with a probable theme of Local is Global. One significant issue to be discussed at the Congress is the funding model for the Global Greens. The current funding model is unsustainable and we need to double our resources to be an effective body.
The congress will also simultaneously be the European Greens and Green Party England and Wales conferences, as well as an APGF face-to-face council meeting.