The 33rd European Green Party Council, happening 28-29 May, will feature activists Elizabeth Wathuti, Tara Houska, Adélaïde Charlier and Nyke Slawik.
Grassroots activism has been an integral part of Green politics from the beginning of our journey. The environmental, peace, and women's rights movements constitutes the roots of the Greens as a response to the political status quo. These movements have forged the European Greens' political priorities: climate change, peace, environment, democracy, social justice, health and a pro-European approach.
As Greens we believe that in our fight against the climate crisis and for an ecologically and socially just transition, we need to do so side by side with those on the frontline demanding change. We are very much looking forward to the inspiring inputs that these activists will bring to our plenary discussion.
Climate and Biodiversity - exchange between youth movements, Global South activists and Green policy makers
The 33rd European Green Party Council will feature several climate activists during the Plenary 'Climate and Biodiversity - exchange between youth movements, Global South activists and Green policy makers' happening on Saturday, 29 May, after a Keynote Speech by Petra de Sutter.
Thomas Waitz, Austrian Green MEP and Co-Chair of the European Green Party, will be hosting the Plenary. As an organic farmer, he is particularly involved in issues concerning the maintenance of biodiversity in Europe. It will feature speakers: Beppe Sala, Mayor of Milan; Eleonora Evi, Member of the European Parliament, Greens/EFA Group; Zaïre Krieger, spoken word artist; Pia Olsen Dyhr, Leader of SF; as well as four prominent activists.
Elizabeth Wathuti is a passionate environmentalist and climate activist from Kenya and one of the leading young voices for the environment and Climate Action in Africa. She is the founder of Green Generation Initiative (GGI), Head of Campaigns at Wangari Maathai Foundation, and a youth council member of the International Reserva. The Green Generation Initiative (GGI) inspires young people to connect with and protect nature, instilling environmental consciousness through environmental education, greening schools and mentorship. It plants fruit trees for food security and has succeeded in planting more than 30,000 tree seedlings in the country. Her Adopt a Tree campaign ensures that these seedlings make it to maturity.
Still the best carbon capture technology available.🌳🌳🌳🌳💚 pic.twitter.com/lmJI6YuGJh— Elizabeth Wathuti 🇰🇪 (@lizwathuti) May 3, 2021
Tara Houska is a tribal attorney fighting for indigenous rights and justice. She is a land defender, and former advisor on Native American affairs to Bernie Sanders. She is also a co-founder of Not Your Mascots, a non-profit organization dedicated to fighting against stereotypical native representations in sports. Her work tackles colonial violence in the US and the many interrelated issues that Native Americans face in the United States; such as stolen land, disappeared women, the human cost of building pipelines, polluted waters and other natural resources, and cultural appropriation. Today, she is mostly occupied fighting the Line 3 Pipeline Expansion, which would transport 1 million barrels of tar sands a day from Canada through the great lakes region.
Today, we experienced police protecting & serving the interests of Dakota Access, LLC. #NoDAPL #PeopleOverProfits pic.twitter.com/dzRBdIm5Fc— tara houska ᔖᐳᐌᑴ (@zhaabowekwe) October 28, 2016
Adélaïde Charlier is a climate activist and the co-founder of Youth for Climate from Namur, Belgium. She is one of the organisers of the school strike for climate movement, Fridays for Future. She is advocating for politicians to not only listen to young people but also to engage with citizens in a participatory manner. She highlights how, throughout the pandemic, Europe's youth are struggling to maintain their educational trajectories as well as they mental health and feel that they are not needed by society. By including them in political discussions and decision-making, they can feel more involved in shaping the post-pandemic future: "We are the generation that resists, that does not accept the system that we grew up in. (...) Now that we question everything, we realise that we can build another world."
Nyke Slawik is a climate and queer activist from North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. She has been a part of the youth association of the Greens in North Rhine-Westphalia since 2009. This region is home to one of the biggest lignite mining and coal power areas in Europe, and she is very vocal about the necessity of a quick transition away from coal. Currently, she is organising opposition against the government's plan to build new motorways in Germany and the planned extension of existing ones like in her hometown Leverkusen. Slawik is a candidate in the upcoming national elections with good chances of winning a seat in the Bundestag. About her trajectory, she states that: "At some point I saw that you can't always wait for change to happen on its own. You also have to be active yourself."
Liebe @gruenelev,— Nyke Slawik🏳️⚧️💚 (@nyke_slawik) October 28, 2020
In 11 Monaten wird ein neuer #Bundestag gewählt. Ich stelle mich zur Wahl.
Für #Diversity, #LGBT, #Feminismus🌈 - #Klimaschutz & #Klimagerechtigkeit🌍 - #Europa & #Menschenrechte🇪🇺
👉Meine ganze Bewerbung: https://t.co/tYd7YNILHa pic.twitter.com/Tx1po6Yc6d
Frontline communities are impacted 'first and worst' by environmental breakdown
The climate crisis impacts vulnerable communities the most. This is a global struggle.
The fight against the climate crisis intersects with the fight for indigenous rights because it is most often indigenous communities that are on the frontline of the crisis. Unfortunately, it is often those that bear the least responsibility for the crisis that are the most impacted. As Houska has stated: "Indigenous peoples are impacted first and worst by climate change. We are impacted first and worst by the fossil fuel industry." Climate change refugees, who must migrate due to increased drought, desertification, sea level rise, or other factors linked to environmental breakdown, already exist all over the world – such as in the Pacific Islands and on Native American land in the US.
Protecting biodiversity in Europe and abroad is crucial not only because mature forests function as effective carbon sinks. These ecosystems also provide for human and societal needs, such as the provision of food and water, good air quality, and climate change resilience. This fall, at the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15), the international agreement on the global conservation of biodiversity will be discussed. Ahead of the convention, debates about what kind of policies can ensure that we protect biodiversity are happening within the Green family. 80% of the world's biodiversity is found in lands managed by indigenous populations, who only make up about 5% of the global population. This is why it is crucial that when we discuss how we can protect biodiversity, we also centre the experiences of local communities who are integral to protecting and managing these lands.
Green MEP and climate activist Michael Bloss is leading the battle on climate in the European Parliament. He is working on 'Fit for 2030', which will be crucial to saving the Green Deal and achieving the necessary emissions reductions. He states that other important legislation such as the Energy Efficiency Directive will be revised and that 'targets that are more ambitious could make a huge difference'. The LULUCF regulation renewal could also lead to an improved preservation of natural carbon sinks. He adds that this is an opportunity for the Greens to push for ambitious restructuring: "Overall, this package will overhaul the EU's entire climate policy at once. This is an enormous opportunity to achieve something for true climate protection in the Union." He will be moderating the Parallel Session 'Fit-for-Climate? Understanding what the EU legislative package means for member states and the climate'.
We are delighted to host these incredible guests and to have the opportunity of discussing these issues with them during the 33rd European Green Party Council. Register for the Council now!