Rosanne Bersten, Bethamie Woodstone & Sophie Trevitt
Sunday, 2 April
8:00am: Good morning home viewers! Sophie here. It's the last day of congress today. The streets of Liverpool are filled with remnants of a big Saturday night (not ours of course, Greens don't litter), it's Canberra-level cold, none of the coffee shops are open yet and our delegates are busy finalising our final positions on the Global Greens resolutions that will be brought to plenary this morning.
Us! Your Australian Greens Delegates
9:30am: after some technical difficulties and a slow Sunday start, delegates from over 100 countries have gathered in the plenary room to discuss the Future of the Global Greens. This is a very important resolution - it contains a commitment for the Greens countries globally to continue to work together, collaborate on campaigns, fund the global organisation and principles of affirmative action. As with all proposals that contain commitments to funding there are difficult conversations to have. The Greens parties and organisations around the world have wildly different capacities to fundraise and even to fund their own activities. However, as Christine Milne said to Congress on Day 1 - our power is global. We will only overcome the global challenges we face of climate change, corruption and inequality if we all work together.
After some discussion, we are coming back to the Future of the Global Greens proposal after morning tea (very British - more negotiations to come over a cup of tea and biscuit).
9:45am: Passed! First resolution passed was on the conflict in Yemen. The plenary voted in recognition of this devastating conflict which has seen at least 10,000 people killed since March 2015, and millions left homeless and hungry. It recognised the need to curtail the power of the military-industrial- financial complex in order to radically reduce the global trade in arms and called on all countries to respect the international Arms Trade Treaty. The resolution also recognised the work of immense efforts of Yemeni civil society and community groups, especially those led by youth and women, to rebuild peace and social cohesion at a local level.
10:00am: Ok, we're rapidly passing resolutions now! So far we have passed resolutions on:
- Joint-Resolution by Venezuela, Mongolia, Niger and Senegal against land-grabbing, ecocide and forest destruction
- Need to ensure economic interest in sale of veterinary medicinal products is separate from administration & prescription
- Agreed to the development of an international Crime of Ecocide. The starting definition proposed is: activity that causes serious and/or lasting harm to natural ecosystems and their biogeochemical cycles and/or to an ecological system vital to the Earth ecosystem as necessary to maintain the current condition of life; or other definition for the most serious environmental crimes including their links with human rights violations.
10:15am: Very exciting proposal passed to work together globally to stop all new coal mines and rapidly phase out fossil fuels. Australia gets its own special mention in this proposal because the Adani Coal Mine poses such an enormous threat to the lives and security of people all over the planet. The Congress voted to:
10:20am: Also passed with many "green cards" (voting is taking place by delegates holding up green, red or orange cards from the plenary floor to indicate support, opposition or absteintion) was Australia's resolution to counter Right-Wing Extremism and Racism.
- That all countries be inclusive communities that welcome all people of diverse cultures and backgrounds;
- That all countries fully respect the UN Refugee Convention.
- That countries implement proven, successful models of racism prevention programs;
- That adequately resourced settlement and social inclusion services be made available to refugee and migrant populations;
- That Cross-cultural training to be made available for government staff;
- Laws that fully implement the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination; and
- The improvement of public discourse about matters of 'race', colour, national or ethnic origin, culture or religious belief.
10:25: Just before the heavily foreshadowed tea break, the plenary also passed resolutions to:
- Establish a global LGBT+ network to fight against oppression and marginalisation and for the rights of all LGBT+ peoples to be respected
- Resolved to campaign globally for the protection and conservation of coral reefs around the world
- Agreed that the world's oceans are a public trust and as such are our common heritage. This resolution amongst other things, called for the UN to develop a central registry of oceans commitments and intergovernmental scientific panel on oceans.
- Committed to launch a global campaign to phase out nuclear energy globally
- And finally, in response to corruption and restricted democratic processes around the world, the Global Greens committed to pursue political reform in order to raise the standard of democracy, improve citizens' quality of life, and overcome the global ecological crisis.
We'll be back after that cup of tea! -- Sophie
11:00am: Ok we're back and caffeinated and we have just passed the Future of the Global Greens proposal! Maybe the Brits are right that a cup of tea can solve anything.
We have moved onto emergency resolutions (which basically means resolutions that were submitted after the deadline but were considered sufficiently urgent to be dealt with on the floor anyway). So far Congress has agreed to:
- Endorse the objectives and UN negotiations for a legally binding international nuclear weapons ban treaty;
- Strongly condemn the large-scale detentions of peaceful protesters and the pressure on the media and political repressions in Belarus. (Fun Fact: Belarus is not yet a member of the Global Greens but as they are on their way to becoming part of the global organisation they are able to participate at Congress)
We're about to discuss a proposal regarding the crisis in Venezuela where the democratically elected Parliament has been dissolved in what is being called a 'state sanctioned coup d'etat.' We're hearing from Greens representatives from Venezuela who have highlighted the lack of press freedom, abuses of human rights and the absence of the rule of law.
PASSED: Congress agreed that green parliamentarians of the world will call for the reestablishment of the rule of law and national general elections at all levels in Venezuela.
In the final minutes, Congress:
- Reaffirmed our support for the efforts of the Colombian people in overcoming armed conflict & building sustainable peace;
- Condemned the decision of the Israeli Security Cabinet on 30th March 2017 to approve the first new Israeli settlement in the West Bank in 20 years, in the Shilo valley and noted that Israeli settlements in the West Bank contravene the fourth Geneva Convention and are therefore illegal under international law;
- And reaffirmed its opposition to any activity that escalates conflict, including arms races and the expansion of Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) in South China Sea. Global Greens also urges all nations to halt or demolish development projects, such as airport runway construction and land reclamation for military bases, so as to gradually recover the ecology of the coral reef islands.
11:45am: The formal business of the Congress is almost over, and we have come together in the auditorium to hear from Greens from each federation about what Congress has meant for them. The American federation speaks highly of the Global Greens - “this is the only global organisation that is fighting for life, a world where all of us have the right to live on a healthy planet.” We hear from the Solomon Islands "no matter where we come from, what creed or beliefs, whether we come from countries big or small; the Global Greens reminds us that we all live on the same planet, and are part of the same family. My hope lies with the global greens for the future of my people & future generations" - words from Solomon Islands
12:00pm: Strong words from the Global Greens Women's Network about the significance of so many women from Greens parties around the world coming together to support eachother - all with some shared experiences, and some wildly different ones. In some parts of the world delegates reported great difficulty in women participating at all in politics, in others we heard inspiring stories of women using their own parliamentary success to empower and encourage others to run for office. Our speaker ended by reflecting that while we are in the midst of a conservative wave at the moment, the only way we will get through it is if we support and empower women.
12:10pm: We heard from the Global Greens LGBT+ Network for the first time, as it was only established at this Congress! The Network is committed to fighitng for the full rights and freedom from oppression of LGBTIQA+ people right around the world.
12:15pm: Chrisitne Milne from Australia took the stage to report back on the work of the Global Greens Parliamentarians Networks and delivered a strong call for global action on climate change. Christine reported that Greens MPs have committed to tackling global warming as our number 1 priority. "There is much strength," she said, "in going from local action to state, to national, to GLOBAL action to protect the climate." Our Greens MPs globally will fight to: strengthen national ambition, keep temperature rises below 1.5 degrees & strengthen climate finance.
12.25pm: The next Global Greens Congress will be in the Asia-Pacific region! A spokesperson from the Indonesian Greens is inviting us all to join her there.
12.30pm: A beautiful tribute to Margaret Blakers from all the Federations. Margaret is stepping down as Global Greens Convenor. Christine Milne gave a beautiful speech about how without Margaret there would be no Global Greens. She has given 17 years of her life to the Global Greens and her efforts will never be forgotten. APGF has set up a traineeship in her name. Eva from the Swedish Greens sang a beautiful song about how you can sail without sails but she can't part from Margaret. Margaret thanked everyone for their kind words and acknowledged she wished there was one world time zone After so many years of midnight meetings Australian time.
2.30pm: The closing plenary is hosted by Manuel Diaz on behalf of the Federation of the Americas and Juon Kim, leader of the Korean Greens, on behalf of APGF.
First we see a lovely video summary of the congress.
Amelia Womack, Deputy Leader of Green Party of England and Wales: We are an international movement of millions. Congress reminds us that we are a force to be reckoned with. Some challenges are local and some we all share. Our movement cannot be contained by borders and is stronger than short-term populism.
Our diversity is our strength.
2.40pm: Mar Garcia, Secretary General if the European Green Party: We leave Liverpool enriched and ready to continue our missions: to offer alternative solutions to current problems while still looking to the future. What a big Green global family we are. E are a movement with cooperation and networking strongly rooted in our DNA.
We are activists. Greens are the best option for the social and ecological sustainability of our planet. There is no strategy if it does not prioritise our planet.
There are many who suffer and die in defending the planet. The 185 environmental activists reported murdered by Global Witness In 2015 and Zaida Catalan just four days ago. Their fight is our fight.
Trump signed the executive order that nullified Obama's climate policies and Prime Minister May signed Article 50 triggering Brexit. But we are the last generation that can stop the disasters of climate change.
With the election of Alexander Van Der Velden in Austria and GroenLinks in the Netherlands, we also have much to celebrate. The next defeat may be that of Marie Le Pen in France. The next European elections will be a challenge because Europe needs to reset.
Without the empowerment of women, there is no possibility of change. The effort of Congress has been worth it. John Lennon said, “Imagine all the people, sharing all the world.” I can only imagine sharing it with all of you.
2.50pm: Keli Yen, coordinator of Global Greens.
The global greens is like what we call in Chinese a practice field, where we push against one another and learn to be agile and calm and quick and responsive in our minds and our muscles and our bones. We learn skills and the art of leadership here. They asked who wanted to step up and my hand kept going up. We learn what we're willing to be vulnerable for. So we can find courage to speak truth to power. We learn skills, how to talk on stage, how to debate. All of this is the work of activists. The purpose of this congress is to inspire ourselves, to organise ourselves to have a greater impact to get here and to amplify ourselves so that our voice has a global impact.
We may never see the impact we have but it's a lifelong journey. The lesson for me is the importance of being self-led… The clarity has to come from inside. Our hearts get us into the streets and out of bed in the morning. There are ever growing disconnects in the world, people vilifying each other, punishing scapegoats, but we are about connection, about caring — that's something I learned from the Australian Greens. That is my challenge to you: to care about each other. Care for one another, be kind to each other. Let the Global Greens be our sanctuary. Take the leap of faith when you're scared, be good to one another. We need one another.
Let's use this lifetime, make the most of it, be kind, be loving, be the change we want to see in the world. (I'm crying! I'd be surprised if there's a dry eye in the house).
3pm: Two candidates are invited to speak.
Pekka Haavisto (De Grona, Finland) talks about his candidacy for the next election. He is married to an Ecuadorean man named Antonio and tells stories about travelling in Finnish countryside and winning over skinheads in the local pub through being themselves -- this is what campaigning is, he says — Rosanne
Incredibly humbling to be addressed in the closing plenary by Dr Frank Habineza, Presidential candidate for the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, the first opposition party, facing beatings, arrest, or even assassination but standing anyway because of his passion and commitment. The previous speaker, Mar Garcia, Secretary General of the European Green Party, marked the absence of so many who couldn't be here at Congress because they have been detained, denied visas, or killed because of their beliefs and actions, from Chico Mendes years ago to Berta Caceres last year to young Swedish Green activist Zaida Catalan murdered in the Congo four days ago. We struggle in Australia, but we are so incredibly lucky. — Tim
3.15pm: We end with a reading of the Liverpool Declaration: A Global Movement, a United Vision and all of the steering committee of the Congress on stage to be thanked by everyone. -- Rosanne
And that's a wrap!
Saturday, 1 April
Good morning! Sophie here. We're kicking off the day with conversation from New Zealand, the United Kingdom Chile and Burundi about how we can best promote democracy locally, regionally and internationally.
Following, Christine Milne's powerful speech yesterday where she identified that many of our democracies have in fact been bought off by big corporations and are in fact plutocracies, discussing the reality of our democratic systems on the ground is a powerful way to start the day.
9:00am: Anne-Marie Bhirabake from Burundi described the harsh reality that she faces on the ground, with people being exiled, killed and imprisoned for their politics. She said that in fact it is difficult to talk about democracy in Burundi, people are living in fear and extreme poverty.
Before 2005 however, we were moving towards democracy. We were making headway. We had political parties who were able to stand for election (it wasn't entirely open, but there were multiple parties) and there was a big shift behind women being empowered to stand for election and for women to be able to vote. But then it all went wrong.
9:30am: Alejandro San Martin discussed the reality of democracy in Chile. He began by saying that in form Chile did look like a democracy, however in practice the situation was quite different. At the last election only 40% of people who were able to vote, did in fact vote. Transparency and corruption are enormous issues for our country. However Chile has come a long way. People became so disillusioned that they built a large social and cultural movement demanding change.
9:40am: Metiria Turei from New Zealand acknowledged that while New Zealand has a robust democratic system, they are still always trying to strengthen their democracy. They have 'the missing million' people who don't vote because they don't trust democracy, or authority, because they have been given no reason to. Metiria says that as Greens who believe in participatory democracy, it is our job to give them a reason to trust in us.
9:50am: Anne-Marie Bhirabake said that right now it is impossible to take any political action in Burundi. All of those who have tried to oppose the President are in exile. People are fleeing, they are starving, so if people are still in the country then they keep quiet.
10:00am: What followed the diverse experiences, lessons and calls to action from our speakers was a range of quesitons about how we best advance our Greens commitment to 'participatory democracy.' How do we inspire people to vote, to stand for office and to have their say in decisions that will affect them? There were questions about how we ensure that our pursuit of democracy isn't about imposing our way of doing things on others, but rather working with communities and countries in their own contexts to see the principle realised that people have a right to have a say over their lives. -- Sophie
'Oceans as a Commons: working together for ocean sustainability'
11:00am: The Global Greens understand that human society depends on the ecological resources of our planet, and that it's our job to protect and maintain these ecological systems. Oceans are under threat right across the planet.
As Linnea Engstrom, Sweedish Greens, said “life began in the oceans and life will always depend on them.”
The Madagascan Greens talked about the crucial role that oceans play in sustaining life for us all - they provide us with food, absorb heat to reduce the impacts of global warming, and support extraordinary biodiversity that we use across many industries.
Tragically, he said: "People thought we could never destroy the #oceans, but we have perfected ways of killing species."
It was hard to hear as an Australian, Greens from around the world talking about the grave danger our Great Barrier Reef faces due to the coal-obsession of our government.
Close to home was Judith Giblin, a youth representative of Greens Fiji, who spoke about the essential role that oceans play in the life and livelihoods of Pacific Islanders. The Pacific is home to 14 countries and 8 territories and 98% of it is made up of oceans. Islanders rely on oceans for food, transport, work, economy and our culture.
Ernest Kolly, from the Solomon Islands, expanded on the challenges faced in the Pacific. Challenge faced by small nations - he explained - comes from collapsing fisheries, impact of climate change, plastic waste and natural disasters. Development in terms of logging, unregulated fishing, pollution from vessels and population increase all affect our oceans.
Judith ended her speech with a poem written by a mother in the Marshall Islands called 'Tell Them,' you can watch it here: https://www.democracynow.org/2015/12/2/marshall_islands_poet_to_the_un
11:00 Politics and activism in the time of social media
A fantastic session on politics and activism in the age of social media with Tatiana Bazzichellli (Italy) author of 'Network Disrupted' dealt with questions of opposition and disruption: If we confront the opposition they will turn it around and use our methods against us. So, what strategy can we apply? Answer chaos with chaos, and be disruptive by changing the system from inside?
Disruption is more than unorganised chaos on the internet. Bazzichellli proposes a more conscious use of the internet. We must understand media and how it is used, such as the 'yes men' do, i.e. 'fake news' to expose corruption or oppression. Hate speech is another big issue, and needs to be addressed. We need to promote a consciousness of the technology so can respond effectively to trolls and hate speech etc.
Electoral law has not caught up with technology and how data is used to build up individual profiles on voting intentions. In UK this had an impact on Brexit and also in USA on the presidential election. Hate speech addresses emotions and we need a message of love to counter this. -- Vivienne
Green Politics and the Outlook of Basic Income
2:00: We're back after lunch for a session on the Universal Basic Income! This afternoon Tim Hollo from the Green Institute in Australia has brought together Greens from around the world to talk about how we can transform the world of work. Many of us, including us in Australia, have long had a universal basic income in our party platform but haven't championed UBI strongly in the public realm. Perhaps now is the time to start that conversation.
Jooeun Cho from the Korean Greens kicks off the session by talking about the trials hta that have already begun around the world. In Namibia, a trial showed that the number of people living below the food poverty line dropped from 76% to 37%. In Korea there was also a trial for young people (specifically 24 year olds). More than 95% said it was helpful and that they felt their lives were being considered. Now, a trial has begun in the Netherlands to a group of people who are already receiving welfare, the results will be in in 2 years time.
Barb Jacobson (UK) spoke about her own experience as a welfare recipient, and some of the broader weaknesses of social security systems. One of the big weaknesses is that if you start working while on welfare, you aren't necessarily better off. A big feminist issue, is that many systems are administered per household - not per person - which creates problems particularly for women. In the UK, somewhere between 30 and 70% of people who could get social security, don't. This tells us two things - one is that the fear mongering about dole bludgers is probably overblown, and the second is that many people are struggling.
In defence of freedom: against illiberal democracies
2.30pm: This plenary session brought together Liz Kennedy, Adam Ostolski, Jens Siewert and Suzanne Kröger talking about Trump, Putin, right-wing parties in Poland and dealing with the right-wing Geert Wilders in the most recent Dutch election.
A common thread is about how there needs to be an open and non-judgemental dialogue, rather than ridicule or vicious responses to supporters of populist parties. When you listen to the concerns of the voters, underneath the fear is almost always socio-economic issues.
Only after we listen can we really communicate that we have a genuine alternative. And then we need to empower communities and have citizen engagement, even with the people who voted for the right-wing populist parties.
Reinhard Butikofer, moderator, notes that there are four themes:
- Economic and social anxiety, of not getting one's fair share,
- an elitist play on anti-elitism,
- nationalism or anti-big power that plays on hopelessness and loss of control -- and it's summarised in the slogans that the populists use.
- Institutions failing and a technocratic sense of futility which we need to replace with a renewed sense of human agency.
We need to take the right seriously -- in the US, there was a failure of imagination that Trump becoming President was in the realm of the possible. -- Rosanne
Forests as a Global Commons
16:00 Sophie here again, we're joining the session on Forests as a Global Commons and what we can do as Greens parties all over the world to protect our natural forests. Christine Milne is moderating the panel that spans Australia, Indonesia and Poland. Christine Milne opens the panel by talking about the sorts of enormous problems we face globally: the enormous quantities of deforestation, the corruption that goes along with it and the laundering of that money across the world. It is our responsibility to start looking at where this money is coming from, and where it is going, if we want to protect our forests.
Greg Barber kicks the panel off with some hard truths about Australia - “if you think we're a small population on a big, big, country you're right - but for a small population we have done a hell of a lot of damage.” Australia is one of the most damaged landscapes in the world.
Devastating accounts from Indonesia and Poland too about the enormous threat their forests are under. Indonesia used to have some of the largest areas of natural forests in the world, now they are vanishing. Predictions say that within 20 years there may not be any more forests in Indonesia. Similarly too in Poland, the Biatowieza Forest is under threat. Biatowieza is the only forest left in Poland. It is full of bisons (approx 1300) which is Europe's heaviest land animal and about 155 species of nesting birds as well as lynx and wolves. The Minister for Environment in Poland has been trying to prove that that forest is in fact 'man made' so that it isn't afforded environmental protections. At the same time, the government refuses to take any steps to reduce fossil fuel emissions - a dangerous combo. -- Sophie
Challenges in communications
4pm: This session brings together Christine Berry from the New Economics Foundation, Jamie Clare from the Climate Outreach Network and Tim Hollo from our own Green Institute. How do we transition to talking about a society with wellbeing as a measure of success rather than wealth?
Christine says, “We brought a spreadsheet to a knife fight.”
Her project with the New Economics Foundation aims to create a progressive bloc with a real chance to change public opinion.
“We did semi-structured cognitive interviews to get to how people think about the economy and what the structural mechanisms are behind their thinking.” Turns out people are quite fatalistic about the economy and have a cognitive hole about how it functions.
The right succeeds by talking not in political terms but to people about what they care about. The right manages this by blaming the other and people latch on to that and we haven't provided an alternative narrative to counter that. We're good at coming up with the solutions but not communicating them.
The idea of the Commons, that there is strength in interconnected diversity.
Tim explains Common Cause, a values-based system that addresses how our values map together in our brains and affect our behaviour (and especially how we affect people's behaviour by how we prime them with particular language).
A Commons understanding sees us as the Economy and the Economy as us, whereas neoliberalism sees it as separate.
People quite like slogans and we have a few good ones -- Build bridges not walls, Make the Planet great again -- but we're usually not very good at this.
After a discussion about how people's experience of working in community energy gave them a real sense of having taken back personal control, a commenter in the audience came up with the great suggestion that Greens parties could fundraise for a community organiser whose role is to manage community projects like this, rather than just hiring organisers for electoral outcomes.
Asked what other communication challenges we have, Tim said, “How do we live our lives? What is the good life? What does that mean? It comes down to lived experience and trying to build that.I just love the Swedish Greens tax rebate on repair. You don't have to be a Greenie to be frustrated when your phone dies just after the warranty expires.”
Christine says. “We operate at both the grassroots level and at the macro level of strategy for how we are going to change society. It's interesting to then ask what is the role of the Greens in this? Caroline Lucas can maybe say things that others on the left can't say.”
If your life is very precarious, then it's difficult for you to engage in politics, so the challenge is to make life more secure but not just talk about security -- that leaves room for pernicious security-based narratives about immigration. Wedge issues -- housing, income. What do we need to do today so we can do more tomorrow?
Groenlinks campaign, Netherlands
4pm: Online communications dominated the successful GROENLINKS Netherlands campaigning which increased their vote four times. The strategy was informed by annual polling research and party initiated panels on finer details — opinions, tone and words.
There was an emphasis on positive messaging and positive frames including the use of humour, an emphasis on values and ideals, a focus on the leader and quality rather than quantity.
Slack was the internal mechanism for communications amongst campaigners.
Facebook including video were primary with every second counting and targeted advertising count.
They used the BlueStateDigital platform for their voter contact management and had 10,000 volunteers.
What's App, with its high open rate, was the key messaging tool. Monthly meet ups grew from 700 to 5000 in concert halls, reaching new people constantly with a mix of activism, music and speeches both off and online, followed by a donation ask after. Meet ups drew 60 per cent under 30, 20 per cent party members.
It took a year of sharing the research and strategy to bring the membership on board.
Another initiative Geek Up was bringing in programmes, designers and data folks who created new apps, memes, apps, games and sites.
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Does the EU still love me? UK and EU after Brexit
18:30 The room is packed out for the session on Brexit, and how we Greens should (and are) responding to it. Molly Scott Cato, the Greens MEP for South West England begins by asking us what does Brexit mean for our commitment to direct democracy. Key to that, she says, is a free press. She argues that infact those in the UK are living with a highly restricted press.
What we're seeing now is a bunch of right wing tories taking control of the Prime Minister and drive their far-right agenda. Molly asks, “How many people want to turn us into a tax haven? How many want to bonfire our environmental legislation?” She points to some of the key reasons why the referendum happened in the first place - there is no constitution holding elected representatives to account, the lack of representation representation means they have a House of Lords that lacks legitimacy and so - in Molly's words - “wimped out” when it came to the House of Commons' demands, and of course the PR machine.
Molly ends with some calls to action for the Greens to embrace some positive outcomes from Brexit - things like fair trade agreements that were not on the table before, harnessing the energy of young people who for the first time are becoming politically engaged, and ends with a defiant “I do believe the decision can be reversed.”
19:00: Philippe Lamberts is a Greens MEP who begins by making the case that the EU belongs together. “If I look at some of the challenges that face humanity on this tiny confetti of land: climate change, refugees, Putin, Trump, terrorism” these are our challenges. “Do we really want to face these challenges on our own?”
We are interdependent. The irony, he argues, about Cameron's decision to call the referendum was the hard-right's worst nightmare - the unification of the union in response to this disaster.
Theresa May has decided to take the most extreme interpretation of Brexit - she has decided to cut all ties, to get out completely, that interpretation was not necessary. That's a choice. Our choice in response, therefore, can be to make the Brexit as un-Brexit as possible. (There was some unrest in the audience about the suggestion that a Brexit, of some form, may be inevitable.)
19:30: Ross Greer, Scotland's youngest MP, talked strongly about Theresa May's contempt for the views of Scotland and Wales who wanted to stay in the European Union. He called it a “damning indictment of the UK as a family of nations.”
Scotland produced a paper on how they could respond to Brexit with the UK voting to leave, while they voted to stay. When Theresa May gave her speech about her plan for a hard-Brexit she gave just one line to Scotland, she did not even wait for the paper of options from Wales, she showed no respect for Wales and Scotland.
Ross said about the UK's refusal to allow Scotland to have a referendum on their independence, “for a UK Prime Minister to write to the European Union about the British people's' right to self-determination on the same day as she denies the Scottish theirs is utterly unacceptable.”
19:45: Christine Milne begins by talking about her own experience of the UK joining the EU. When they joined the 'common market' as it was called, rural Australian communities suffered - we had been exporting apples and dairy products and meats, and all that ended. She went to the UK when she finished university to travel and eventually ended up working in Scotland. The moment it hit home for Christine that the UK was now part of another system, that did not include Australia, was when she queued up in the line for 'aliens and others' at the airport.
From Australia, says Christine, Brexit looks remarkably like our own Prime Minister who is consistently pandering to the right. Europe was the peace project of post World War Two, it is tragic to see the far-right tear that down. That's not to say the EU doesn't have problems, but the unity of our nations, the ability to move freely, these things are important.
Friday, 31 March
9am: Simone Peter, leader of the Greens in Germany, began Day 2 of the Global Greens Congress by calling Trump a gravedigger of the future.
The Greens are the opposite.
We are fighting for our future. And, we are facing the planet's great challenges, including the biggest — the challenge of global warming.
However, the growth of renewable energy is now unstoppable. In Germany, hundred of cooperatives have formed. Tens of thousands of farmers have come together to power their communities with renewable energy. More than half of this green electricity is produced by citizens. It's a people powered movement and has created hundreds of thousands of jobs and generated billions of pounds.
The Green movement must grow. We must work with the community outside and inside parliament and governments to face these challenges. Climate policy is an important part of the fight against global inequality and poverty.
Now it is time not to discuss the risks, but to discuss our hope. There is no Planet B. The Greens have hope, power and passion for the future.
9.25am: Carole Dieschbourg, Greens Minister for the Environment in Luxembourg, is the first speaker on Day Two's opening plenary — 'Fighting for Hope: From Paris to 1.5 degrees.'
She describes attending the United Nations Climate Conference in Marrakesh and fighting to ensure that Indigenous people, civil society, women could reach politicians. She found that businesses were calling for action. They know that renewable energy is cheaper for everyone, because the sun is always shining and the wind is blowing. It was the alliances between all these people, and the alliances between ambitious governments, that lead to change in Paris.
She said, now more than ever we need more Greens governments around the world. We need to work together to develop renewable energy policies and energy efficiency programs.
She gave examples of the progress the Greens are making in Luxembourg to make their economy greener. They have decided to screen their pension funds to divest from fossil fuels. They are looking at transport because it accounts for 68% of total emissions and have a plan to decarbonise their transport sector by 2050.
The Greens are committed to tackling climate change, because that is the only way we will achieve justice. Climate change drives inequality. We must work with women, Indigenous people and our communities to tackle this challenge.
There is hope.
It is our job encourage politicians to be pioneers, to switch off autopilot, and find new ways to protect our world. We must change if we are going to create a resilient and sustainable world.
We must be brave. We must fight for our ideas and make alliances with those who also want to free the world from fossil fuels.
9.45am: Yeb Sano begins his speech with these powerful words: “In November 2013, the strongest storm to hit humanity hit the Philippines, with my family's home at its epicentre.”
Yeb was on his way to a United Nations Climate Conference where he spoke to the delegates there in the midst of the tragedy unfolding in the Philippines and called on them to take action.
The people with the least capacity to defend themselves against this travesty are the ones who will be hurt the most. Those who are responsible for this calamity, and this is the greatest injustice, still hold the world's power, resources and refuse to take action.
Those who have profited the most in wrecking the climate must be held responsible. That is at the heart of climate justice.
Yeb Sano calls on Greens delegate to stand in solidarity with people facing the impacts of climate change in the Philippines and all over the world. We must stand with the Indigenous people of Canada who are standing up to the pipeline, the youth in the United States who are fighting for their futures, and people right across the globe.
We must stand together to stop those who hold the most power and resources from trampling on people's' rights.
The key to solving the climate crisis lies in our choices. It lies in deliberate, concrete domestic actions.
We have much to hope for but time is not on our side. 2016 was the hottest year on record, before that it was 2015 and before that it was 2014. While global emissions are slowing down, it is not fast enough.
Yeb ends with this call to action, “we must prove that we are a species not limited to words but one that takes action.”
“Winning the fight against climate change is not something we can do without tackling the root causes. Behind the climate crisis, and behind all the struggles we face for a better world, is the crisis of inequality.
“It is a great time to be alive. It is great because our generation is the one who must find the courage and political will to turn things around. We have a choice ahead. We can choose a path of hope, which means embracing the most massive transformation humanity has ever faced.
This is a battle we cannot afford to lose, and so our only option is to march on.” -- Sophie
10am: Now we hear from Papa Meissa Dieng. He says that the challenge ahead of us is how do we change the narrative to speak about the great ecological crisis, the need to change our economy, consumption and production.
We need to shift to a transnational consciousness where we work together collectively. We have already seen the beginnings of a metamorphosis.
Papa called for the invention of a new mode of democracy. He said he would call it 'sociocracy' where we include individuals in the decision making processes. This will create other challenges of course, how will we represent future generations for example?
Papa urges people not to fall into the traps of existing systems of bureaucracy and democracy. Participatory democracy can take many forms. If we combine it with an ecological mandate, then we can check its effectiveness — how much harm is it doing the climate? Are steps being taken to protect the environment? In this way, participatory democracy becomes a public good. -- Sophie
10.30am: 'Fighting for Hope: from Paris to 1.5 degrees' ends with a video on fossil fuel divestment made by the European Greens.
Bill McKibben begins with acknowledgement of Global Greens leadership and passion. The Divestment Movement is one of the great signs of hope for the future. Keeps the pressure on industries and iconic institutions, such as museums.
Mentioned his work in Tasmania with Bob Brown and the Greens, 'our movement is big, and broad and growing'.
He looks forward to standing shoulder to shoulder with us in the future.
European Greens have a divestment initiative called 'The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Global Divestment Mobilisation' which will run during May 2017 #DivestEurope -- Vivienne
11:30am: After an inspiring morning discussing how we respond to the arguably the greatest challenge humanity faces - climate change - we now are joined by a pannel from around the world responding to another challenge: the rise of right wing 'populism.'
Leader of the Australian Greens Richard Di Natale began by talking about our own experience with 'trumpism' in the form of the rise of Pauline Hanson and far-right micro-parties.
He says that we can either believe that Trump has won, people are racist and that lies are now stronger than truth. Or, we look at the range of reasons people are voting for Trump and look to the common glue - their dissatisfaction with the status quo. That, and their anger.
What we're facing in Australia is further attacks on multiculturalism, more racism and the continued destruction of our planet. That's the worst case scenario. But, the opportunity here is that people are questioning everything we have taken for granted for so long.
The panel talks about the rise of the far right around the world - from the UK, to the US, Czech Republic, Turkey and Australia. In Czech, the rise of populism began when the pain of austerity measures started to really be felt by the community. Josef Smida, however, argued that it is not 'populism' itself that is the problem. The problem with far right populism is that it appeals to the worst within us - our fear, greed and difference. We must create a different type of populism, one for the left, that is open and inclusive and calls for equality.
When the far right says 'we will make YOUR life better' it is up to the Greens to say, 'we will fight for ALL your lives to be better.'
Richard Di Natale ends his remarks by calling for us to show solidarity with those being targeted by these bigoted, oppressive regimes. One of the speakers from Turkey described the regime's ability to use the media to spread fear that there are threats within and outside of the country - and from that, they are building their strength.
Richard calls for us to stand with the people who are being scapegoated as the enemy and build our own power around them. -- Sophie
2pm: I just had lunch with Thomas, a Norwegian member or Local Government who rode his bike from Norway to Liverpool to attend the Congress -- Beth
2:00pm Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley, Co-Leaders of the Greens UK and Wales
2016 was the hottest year on record, UK elected to leave the EU, Jo Cox was murdered, a Polish national was killed apparently for not being British and the response to the refugee crisis was to bulldoze a camp and build a wall.
But it was also the year where volunteers in India planted 50 million trees in 24 hours, renewable energy boomed and it was the year the world agreed to create the largest ever marine reserve in Antarctica.
Jonathan Bartley began by saying that many people are feeling scared and uncertain in the face of Trump, Brexit and environmental crisis. But, while it is easy to feel powerless and despair that is what the establish wants, and the Greens will refuse give up hope because we are better than that.
“The Greens will not stay silent whilst toxic rhetoric threatens our friends. We will not stand by and let the politics of hatred win.”
Caroline Lucas says that now is a time that demands we come together. And congratulates the greens all over the world for what we are already achieving. We have over 400 Green parliamentarians in 25 national parliaments around the world. The Dutch Greens have soared as the establishment failed to respond to inequality, and failed to deliver bold ideas for the future. So too, the Austrian Greens have showed that people are crying out for politics that lifts people up.
Jonathan addressed the plenary about the triggering of Article 50 and an extreme Tory brexit for which there is no mandate. Jonathan says that he believes in the British people, but people did not vote for this. They did not vote to turn away from democracy, the rule of law or for people to be treated as hostages or bargaining chips as their futures are gambled with.
We are facing a right wing coup, but we are not a nation of right wing xenophobes. What people want is to be listened to. The Greens stand for something, we have a vision we are not afraid to stand by. We will listen and we won't turn away.
Caroline talks about the issues of the complex problems we face, and the temptation for easy rhetoric to have appeal. Right wing rhetoric that vilifies people and scapegoats foreigners. Our challenge is to tell our story, but never, ever go there.
Jonathan says he joined the Greens because it is a party that listens to everyone and gives them a voice. We need a democracy that will do that too.
We need a political system that redistributes money and power. Caroline calls for us to redesign a future that better balances what we own, who we are, and genuinely makes us happier. We want a future with a universal basic income, local banks, education as a universal right and community-powered renewable energy.
I have hope, says Caroline Lucas, but hope doesn't hide the truth and the truth is this. The planet is burning and the gap between rich and poor is getting wider. I have hope though because of you. You will knock on doors, you will talk to people, you will tell truth to power so that we can have a different future. - Sophie
2:30 Global Greens Women Network
What an inspiration to be in a room filled with Greens women from around the planet striving for not only more women in our parliaments, but equality and justice for women everywhere. Many of the issues raised by the women speakers, and women in the audience, were common - issues of reproductive freedom, the phenomenon of being time-poor in a way that men aren't (as women do the lions share of child rearing and family raising), the issue of representation and power of women within our democracy and the challenges we face as Greens to ensure women's voices are heard and promoted.
Terry Reintke, Greens MP in Germany, spoke about Donald Trump's anti-women reintroduction of the global gag rule which blocks US funding to organisations providing vital family planning, reproductive and abortion services to women across the world. The horrific irony is, of course, that it also denies the access and availability of contraception through these programs (which help prevent the need for abortion!) Terry talked about the reality that denying abortion services does not decrease the rate of abortions, only the the rate of safe and legal abortions - forcing women to risk their lives and health to end unwanted pregnancies.
Terry spoke about the response of the EU Parliament to Trump's global gag rule. They have founded #SheDecides which aims to replace the funding Trump withdrew so that women can still access these crucial services. -- Sophie
16:00 Greens in Coalitions
We were joined by Gustav Friodlin from Sweden, Luc Barbe from Belgium, Silvia Vazquez from Argentina and Shane Rattenbury from Australia to talk about the challenges and opportunities of Greens forming coalitions all around the world.
Luc spoke about the importance of including the party in all decisions about forming government. The Greens not only put forward Greens policies, but we do things in a different way - a Greens way. To do that, we must work out how to talk to our party and include them in these decisions.
All speakers agreed that the opportunity to make Greens policies a reality was immense. As Shane Rattenbury said, as Greens we have developed and put forward our policies at election time because we believe they are the best way to make our world a better, fairer, more sustainable and equal place. In government, we can make those policies a reality. We should never shy away from that opportunity.
But, that's not to say there aren't challenges.
Gustav Friodlin, a Swedish Greens Minister, talked about the challenge of compromise. Compromise is a necessary part of forming government with parties who you don't always agree with, and with compromise comes disappointment sometimes from your party, sometimes from the community, that the Greens couldn't do all we want to. Shane Rattenbury went on to add that not only do we face the challenge of compromise, but as Greens more is always expected so compromise is even harder. Precisely because we have integrity and guts, people want us to be able to do everything. The reality is, when in coalition, that is rarely possible.
Shane spoke about what the Greens in government have achieved in Canberra, including a commitment (that is well underway) to 100% renewable electricity in 3 years time. He spoke about the challenges of ensuring we get the credit for our work, and of explaining the compromises we must make.
This session was particularly pertinent because this is a question that the Dutch Greens, after their incredible recent success, are facing right now. We will all watch with anticipation what they decide to do! -- Sophie
4.30pm: Greens alternatives to militarism and war
This session was moderated by Dr Rebecca Johnson (UK) and with speakers Dr Bahram Zandi (USA), Kyung Lee (Korea), Bodil Valero (Sweden)
Dr Zandi: USA has most military bases in the world. The Plan for the New American Century included invading Libya, Iraq and Syria.
USA spends far more than China on military. The war in Afghanistan cost over $1 trillion
Suggested Greens Alternatives include:
- Recognize sovereignty of nations
- Remove veto in UN on the security council
- Ban drones
- Rewrite the rules of investment of corporate capital
- Implementation of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel similar to those used in South Africa
- Allow Palestinians the right of return
- Reduce Global wealth inequality. The richest 1% have 43% of world's wealth.
- Trade practices, tax avoidance and debt services are increasing the divide between rich and poor countries.
Bodil Valero (MEP): we have to change the rules, but it is difficult for a small party to do this. European Parliamentary Committee on Defence determined that climate change was a threat and this wouldn't have been possible without the Greens. The security environment is changing and a 'mass psychosis' amongst the populace with respect to security especially with the refugee crisis.
Sweden requires the Parliament to make the decision to go to war. But we must put most of our efforts into reducing the risk of conflict. Climate change is a driver of conflict, due to migration when crops fail, or unemployment. Where there is a lack of health care food and democracy, there is conflict. Also borders have caused conflicts when they divide communities, such as the Kurds. The problem lies in UN Security Council and the veto rights.
We have diplomacy, cooperation, and other tools to use before military conflict. But if military action occurs such as in Libya, we must have an exit strategy. Libyan conflict left chaos in the country and spilled over into Mali.
Sweden managed to implement an arms embargo against Saudi Arabia. Valero got them to also do better risk assessment of arms sales. There is an over capacity of arms and arms producers in Europe and they are driving wars globally as there are not enough buyers in Europe.
Johnson: does not use term armed forces, but calls them defence services. This highlights the roles they can play such as in emergency situations. Wars are opportunities to showcase and sell more weapons.
Kyung Lee (Green Party Korea): The ongoing tensions between North and South Korea and USA role there is urgent. Korean Peninsula is surrounded by world powers, and GPK has contributed to anti-war and anti-nuclear debate. This is a NE Asian and world problem.
Historical background: conflict between capitalist and communist systems, and military tensions from the 1950s are still present. 2012 and 2016 GPK campaigned on peace in the region during elections. There have been conservative presidents in power for the last 10 years and they are cutting contacts with North Korea. Many people think N. Korea is the threat, but it is the imbalance between N & S Korea in economic and military terms that are the real threats. These conservatives allow the research into Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system and more USA bases which are increasing tensions. N. Korea tried to gain its own security by suspending tourism from S. Korea and trade etc. China is threatened by the potential deployment of the aerial defence system too. They then pressure S. Korea through trade means.
Japan were once imperial power in Korea, and the two countries tried to make a treaty ad build better relationships. But now Trump is in power, he wants to increase US hegemony in the region. Fear that Trump will deploy THAAD.
Greens party response: most importantly, stick to our principles: non-violence and peace. A joint statement between Greens party in USA and Korea that any kind of THAAD should not be deployed.
Jill Stein of US Greens is in the audience.
Jill Stein: the US public are not for war. We win this argument when we get the opportunity to speak about it. We are all told about how demonic N. Korea is, but having an ally in S. Korean Greens helps us talk about this. We don't have such an ally near to Russia. We have surrounded Russia with missiles and military exercise so it is no wonder Putin is behaving like he is. This is a new Cold War. How is the issues of NATO playing out here in UK, and what can we do about collapsing economy and militarisation? We are calling for a Global strike in support of the progressive majority's agenda. The problems of war, poverty and climate change must be addressed.
www.global-strike.com - there is an on-going discussion on this.
Johnson: Women's March for Ban the Bomb 17th June in New York in line with UN talks on Nuclear Disarmament. Sister Marches are encouraged - women-led but all welcome.
18:30 Greens in Government
This session started off with an exciting presentation by Arne Jungjohann. In Germany, the Greens are in government in 11 out of 16 states! These have a variety of Ministries - Environment, Consumer Protection, Agriculture, Integration and Migration and Women and Equality being the top six. While the Environment is by far the most popular Ministry, the portfolios they hold are diverse.
The Greens in Germany have gone from no presence in government, to the representation today in almost 70% of German states.
Christine Milne, former leader of the Australian Greens, spoke about our experience back home. We currently have 9 Senators, 1 House of Representatives, 24 MPs at a state level and about 100 Greens councillors around the country -- but it took a long time to get there (and we're not done yet!)
Christine started by talking about the journey that the Greens went on right around the country as we grappled with our role as a political party - is it our role to be a protest party, an activist force, a party of potential government? We decided pretty early on that our role was to provide a genuine alternative, to become the party of government.
So far, the Greens have entered into parliamentary agreements with other parties. Christine described quite frankly the reality that “the moment the ink dries” that's the beginning and the end of what you can expect the other party to deliver - and you'll spend the rest of the term fighting to get them to deliver on those promises!
Christine contrasted our experience in Australia with the rest of the world. We don't have the diversity of parties to support to form government that exist in the other parts of the world. For the most part, it's Labor or the Tories, which makes it tough. Further, it's hard for the Greens in minority government because, for the most part, the whole reason why we're in it is because the other coalition partner's vote has dropped. The public tried to vote them out, and the Greens prop them up. That means at the next election often people try even harder to get rid of them and we run the risk of going down with them. This is a challenge we must address.
Finally, Swedish Education Minister Gustav Fridolin spoke about the Greens experience in Sweden. He spoke about urgency as being a cornerstone of the Greens. The challenges we face of dangerous global warming and rising inequality won't wait for our policies to become so popular we win majority government. We must seek opportunities now to have influence and make decisions, which is why he calls for Greens to enter government. -- Sophie
Thursday, 30th March
9.13am: Our day has started with a meeting of all the Australian Greens and now we've split off to go to the various sessions that have started. So much to do! I've headed to the Global Greens Women's Network session and Bethamie has gone to the Australia Pacific Greens Federation session.
We'll be keeping you up to date with all the exciting happenings here. So far there are women in this session from Japan, Mongolia, France, India and Uganda among others. Such an amazing opportunity to share our stories. -- Rosanne
10.00am: Lots of amazing ideas here, talking about how to help single mothers around the world, increase the number of women in parliaments, deal with cyber-harassment of female politicians, women's health and pregnancy, how pollution affects pregnancy, sexual and domestic violence, and so much more. Participants also talked through ideas for fundraising, resources and skill-sharing and the possibility of an international day of action for women's rights.
11am: listening to NZ MP Metiria Turei talk about our role as elders in our respective countries and our responsibility to fight for a better future for our children, gave me goose bumps! -- Beth
12pm: Look who I found! Victorian Greens may recognise Cami, who worked with us during the 2014 Victorian election. She's now the Regional Manager (training and local party capacity) for the Greens Party of England and Wales.
2pm: Congress official opening now. “Let it be an opportunity for us to come together in unity” -- lots of Beatles puns of course, because we're in Liverpool.
We're about to have keynote speakers Margaret Blakers, Monica Frassoni and Caroline Lucas. -- Rosanne
2.15pm: Margaret says real peace and security will only come from more diversity and genuine democratic process. She says there are almost 2000 people here from more than 90 countries.
2.20: Margaret notes the contribution and sad passing of Louise Crossley and Steve Emmet. Without Louise there would be no Global Greens charter, and Steve's absence has been sorely felt in preparing for this Congress.
2.30: Monica Frassoni says we Greens are more needed than ever because we understand the two core questions of how to balance democracy and freedom -- at local, national and supranational levels. -- Rosanne
2.40pm: Wow, Caroline Lucas, English MP is inspiring!!
She says: Let us find radical hope among ourselves and remember that we are never alone. Even in the bleakest times, hope persists, not a fuzzy hope but the kind Rebecca Solnit calls an axe you use to break down doors with.
The planet is burning but Theresa May has no mandate to gut environmental protection. She is stoking the fire of xenophobia and fear. It's up to us now to pick up the pieces and find hope among the rubble. The challenge for us tis to stand tall at this time of change. Plan for the future we can all be proud of. This is why we stand up, why we turn up. It is how to make the desirable first achievable and then real. We need to build collective power to achieve collective transformation. We become positive examples of the change we want to see. Actively build community and common cause.
We are writing a new history for our planet and the people who inhabit it.The politics of hope knows there is always a choice. It's fierce and it's
colourful. It is in this room and wherever we choose to take it. The power of together means the politics of hope is only going to get stronger. -- Rosanne
2.45pm: Christine Milne is delivering a firecracker of a key speech and received a standing ovation.
Some highlights: We are Margaret Mead's small group of committed people who are out to change the world. We have chosen to pursue power through the Greens party not for its own sake but to achieve ends.
In the 1950s there were 2.5 billion people on the planet and now there are 7.2 billion. As our world gets even bigger, our planet will seem even smaller. We can cooperate or retreat and resort to conflict. As Greens we choose unity, solidarity, cooperation and peace.
The Global Greens gives us the capacity to act across the whole planet. But this will only happen if we strengthen our organisation and become a strong global force. National and supranational connection is not enough. We must now see ourselves as interconnected.
What we do as Greens whereever we are has ramifications for us all.
With a presence in 90 countries we should have the ability to take actions that roll around the world.
We will not win on the climate, we will not win on social justice until we overturn neoliberal globalisation
The solution is to change the rules of global engagement.
As greens we have to take democracy back from the corporations that have bought it. We need proportional representation everywhere. We stand with the Canadian greens that have been so bitterly disappointed by Trudeau turning his back on his electoral promise.
We need to support multiparty government and take decisions out of back rooms and put them back on the floor of the parliament. We need to address corruption.
We are the biggest threat to mainstream politics on the planet because we are not in the pockets of big business. We wouldn't be under such attack if we weren't a threat.
What you are seeing is the Death rattle of neoliberalism
The future is green or not at all.
3pm: Isabella Lovin, Swedish Deputy Prime MInister: We start with a minute's silence for Zaida Catalan, a Swedish human rights activist who was killed in the Congo.
The Greens are growing stronger, here and around the world. These are difficult times, particularly for us here in Europe with people losing their lives at sea, the rise of populism and of far-right nationalism. But, when the head wind is strong, blowing straight against us, we don't stop.
We are facing great challenges. Democracy is not a given. It is not a service. Without the participation of people, democracy will not survive. We are seeing the rise of populist, far right parties here in Europe; and we know from history that when these extreme right-wing movements are invited in, values we take for granted are questioned. Values about our shared humanity, women, the environment and how we treat eachother.
Today is the 91st birthday of an Auschwitz survivor called Heidi. Heidi spends her days talking to young people about what she experienced during the Holocaust. She also talks about what she's seeing now — the increased racism, extremism & dishonesty that is emerging today. We must listen to her words. We must remember the only way for the far right to gain power is to be let in by those in power - and we must never let those far-right movements in.
In the face of these challenges, now more than ever we need the Greens. Now that the transition to clean, green energy has begun it cannot be stopped by anyone — not even a President.
We now have the first Greens President in Europe and two weeks ago GroenLinks went from 4 to 14 members. In Sweden, we are the first feminist government. We have introduced tax breaks for repairs, so that tailors, and bicycle repairers can make a living, tackling consumerism as well as waste. We are introducing new ways to measure prosperity — not just GDP but social and environmental values as well.
Martin Luther King did not say 'I have a problem,' he said 'I have a dream.' So do we. -- Sophie
4.30pm: Break time!
5.30pm: The welcoming ceremony: 103 Greens parties from around the world!