Renewed solidarity to tackle increasingly global issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis is needed now more than ever. Public and private partnerships have worked together to find a vaccine for COVID-19 in record time, but now we must ensure that they are made accessible to all. Frontline communities and marginalised groups are also increasingly impacted by the climate crisis despite having contributed the least to creating it.
As part of the Green Screen project, which engages citizens in contemporary issues through films and debates, we explored the controversial role of the World Economic Forum, which seeks to improve the state of the world. Can international negotiation spaces such as the World Economic Forum be a catalyst for global solidarity, and aid us in finding global solutions to global issues?
This month, we featured the film 'The Forum' and held a debate on how we can increase solidarity to tackle increasingly global issues. In times of rampant populism and growing mistrust of the elite, director Marcus Vetter accompanies the 81-year-old founder of the controversial World Economic Forum over a period of two years, as he works to achieve his mission: improve the state of the world. When Klaus Schwab writes a letter to climate activist Greta Thunberg after her appearance at the WEF 2019, a dialogue begins between the generations that gives hope.
Watch now: How can we act in solidarity to tackle global crises?
When Greta Thunberg is asked what she would like to change during an interview at Davos, she famously responded: 'Everything'. The debate explored the uses and pitfalls of the World Economic Forum, and whether the world's elite coming together can put the common good above short-term profits. It was kicked off with an introduction by Mar Garcia, Secretary General of the European Greens, and moderated by Dr Sam Murray, Music Lecturer and EGP Amendments Committee Member. Murray explained
"It is clear that we need real global governance for our times, and a new form of globalism to really solve [the COVID-19 crisis] and other great crises. This vision is achievable, as we emerge from the pandemic slowly to build a more caring and compassionate society, with new models of governance that work for the common good."
Garcia highlighted the significance of the film 'The Forum':
"In Europe, most people are either double or triple vaccinated, and we know how important that is to overcome this virus. And somehow it doesn't seem that in the rest of the world we are at this level of health and protection. If we really want to overcome this, we must look beyond our borders and will have to act in with more solidarity (...) [Global solidarity] is also a very good concept when we think of the challenge of climate change because there will be no triple vaccination for climate change if we don't act together to overcome this challenge."
The speakers were doubtful about the potential of the World Economic Forum to create change. Jannifer Morgen, Executive Director of the Greenpeace International, explains that it is important to speak truth to power but that NGOs are increasingly debating whether to go to Davos due its waning legitimacy. Petra De Sutter, Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium, also notes the importance to engage in dialogue but that "Governments need to take responsibility and regulate.This is not going to happen at a forum like the WEF (...) There is a democratic deficit in this kind of platform. They have no legitimacy in which to take decisions." She also adds that a legal framework sets an even playing field: "If you have a regulation that sets the standards for all, you also have a normal competitive environment for businesses." Adrian van den Hoven, Director General of Medicines for Europe, further notes the importance of balancing regulation with providing incentives to businesses.
"We thought COVID was the big equaliser, but it has been the big un-equaliser – raising a lot of inequalities that were already there. Climate change is doing the same thing. It is mainly damaging and attacking the vulnerable people first. The second similarity that I see is that in both subjects, solidarity is absolutely needed not only for moral reasons but (...) there is also a part of self interest in engaging with the climate crisis. For COVID-19 it's simple: if we do not help the rest of the world to have access to efficient vaccines, new variants will be able to develop and come to us anyhow. We're not all safe unless all of us are protected against the virus. (...) If we are to be sure to help ourselves, we should start by helping the rest of the world." - Petra De Sutter, Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium
"Having been in Glasgow at the latest climate meeting, it's quite clear that it's not nation states alone anymore. It's way more complex and I think this is a positive thing because the movements – the social movements, youth movements, climate movements, justice movements, inequality movements, we are working together. And in Glasgow you had a situation where things came into the text that I think without those movements would have been unimaginable. For example, for the first time (...) the words fossil fuel were in the text as well as coal, with the call to phase down in the end coal and phase out fossil fuel subsidies. (...) What I'm seeing is a much more dynamic system right now where nation states certainly are the formal participants but it's movement and civil society that are really making things happen and (...) sending a signal to the fossil fuel industry." - Jennifer Morgan, Executive Director, Greenpeace International
"The EU did not do a perfect job during the pandemic, but everyone now understands what solidarity in healthcare means in the EU. If you're here in Belgium, you have pretty good access to medicines, but if you're in another country in Europe that's poorer like Romania or Poland, you have very low access to medicines. But in the pandemic for COVID-related medicines or medicines that may serve for COVID patients, there was an agreement between the industry, EU and governments, that every patient in Europe would get access to those medicines that we needed and that is almost a revolution in thinking in the EU."- Adrian van den Hoven, Director General, Medicines for Europe
Caption: January's artistic spot took us to a former salami factory in Rome occupied by migrant families that was turned into Museo dell'Altro e dell'Altrove di Metropoliz, a contemporary art space and the first inhabited museum on the planet. The project is a collaboration with the community, and features murals, paintings and installations by more than 600 artists from around the world!
As the Greens, we work on many European and global issues such as human rights, women's rights, digital rights, health and of course climate change. Last November, we were at COP26 to push for a just and sustainable future and are continuing to fight for social and environmental justice. Green politicians also have been calling for EU and all the Member States ratify and effectively implement the Istanbul Convention. We have been working to ensure equal pay for equally valuable work, address growing gender-based violence during the pandemic, and ensure access to reproductive health care and abortion.
Register now for free tickets to future film screenings! The upcoming session features the documentary film 'Woman' (2020), a worldwide project giving a voice to 2,000 women across 50 different countries. You can enjoy this film screening on The Green Screen platform, which will be made available for 48h next month, on 16-17 February! Free tickets are available, book yours NOW!
You can read more about our resolution 'Coronavirus Recovery: Let's build a better tomorrow!', which inspired The Green Screen project.