The Green Party is well known for advocating sustainability and ìthinking seven generations ahead.î Thatís exactly what happened on a grand scale this September in Berlin, at the Gru?ne Zukunfts-Kongress (Green Futures Congress).
ìIt was a theory Woodstock with practical results,î said German Green Party co-chair Claudia Roth at the conclusion of the weekendís proceedings. More than 2,000 Greens and non-party members filled the Berlin Energy Forum building, across the street from the old East Berlin central rail station (Ost Bahnhof), to debate the direction of German society and the Green Partyís role in it.
Today Bu?ndnis í90/Die Gru?nen (Alliance í90/the Greens) finds itself in opposition, after seven years in national coalition government (1998-2005) with the Social Democrats. They now need to think through the partyís future and unite it around a common vision, according to party chairman Reinhard Bu?tikofer.
To help facilitate that process, the Congress featured 51 workshops and nine panels, free of formal decision-making, allowing attendees to openly exchange ideas. Plenary sessions featured many speakers from trade unions, science, economy and social movements. Also featured were German Green Party decision makers and world renowned international guests such as Indiaís Vandana Shiva.
Six topics were central to the weekendís debate: work of the future, fair globalization, social policy and integration, children and education politics, European integration, and energy policy focusing on breaking the dependency on oil. The most highly attended workshop was on social security, drawing approximately 200 people, mirroring the importance of this issue at the national level.
The Zukunfts-Kongress was preceded by 13 regional conferences across Germany, starting in early May in North Rhine-Westphalia and Munich, in order to broaden the debate and build momentum towards Berlin.
For a party that had been criticized in past years as stuck in the ìgeneration of 1968,î one of the most impressive dynamics of the Congress was that 30 percent of participants were under 30 years old. This was a result of a five year party commitment into youth organizing, according to B¸tikofer.
Post-conference press coverage about the intellectual level of debate was positive; from media at the political center and the mainstream press, to Berlinís Tageszeitung, which at times criticizes the Greens from the left.
Policy debated in Berlin will likely find its way into resolutions at the Federal Party Congress in Cologne this December. The debate will continue, observed B¸tikofer, and the Congress ìwill show whether what we made here has a meaning and carries.î
For more information: Gr¸ne Zukunfts Kongress