Greens gather from around the world
Global congress convenes in Senegal
By Mike Feinstein, International Committee of the Green Party of the United States
More than 400 Greens from 76 countries gathered in Dakar, Senegal from March 29 through April 1 for the third Global Greens Congress. The Congress featured workshops, plenary sessions and the kind of international networking that reminds us that the Green Party is clearly a global movement.
Dakar was chosen to highlight the growing presence of Green Parties in Africa, and the strength of the Green Party (FEDES— (Fédération Démocratique des Ecologiste) in Senegal itself.
Among the resolutions approved by the delegates were: ones to update the Global Green Charter, to provide an expanded funding mechanism for a Global Greens Secretariat, to provide for a new convener and executive committee within the Global Greens Coordination, and a statement on the upcoming Rio +20 Summit in Brazil.
Despite the successful outcome of the Congress, for a time it looked like it might not even be held. Many months of domestic unrest surrounding the impending Senegalese presidential elections placed holding the Congress in doubt, as controversy raged whether the two-term incumbent president had defied the nation’s term limit law by running for a third term.
FEDES was part of a united opposition group of political parties and civil society organizations running a joint campaign to unseat the incumbent. Ultimately the candidate backed by FEDES received 64.8 percent of the vote in the second round on March 25th, just days before the Congress began. This led to joy in the streets of Dakar and a peaceful environment in which the Congress could be held.
The Rio+20 Summit resolution, which was approved by Consensus, emphasized the need to move toward a Green economy across the globe. Building upon the concept of a Green New Deal, the resolution included calls for:
- Acceptance of limits to economic (GDP) growth in both developed and developing countries, the need to choose genuinely sustainable and low or zero net carbon forms of economic development, the incorporation of environmental accountability into all institutions of global, national, and local governance and the immediate adoption of a Green GDP;
- Transfer of green technologies between all countries, both developed and developing and international regulatory policies for the equitable distribution of wealth and revenue.
- Food sovereignty based upon protecting and promoting familial agricultures, including intensive agro-ecological techniques, thus encouraging a modern rurality, allowing the poorest half of humanity, often women, to supply their own food with dignity.
- Employment in jobs which protect, rather than damage the environment including sustainable cities with green buildings, eco-efficiency and renewable energy, water savings, adaptation and mitigation commitments and a revised green infrastructure for urban mobility and public spaces.
- A coordinated approach between the three Rio Conventions (Biodiversity, Climate Change and Desertification);
- An upgrade of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) within the institutional framework of the United Nations and consider that the UN Environment Program and other related UN agencies should be transformed inside the UN system, by the creation of a democratically accountable World Environment Organization;
- An international environmental court, so that global environmental legislation becomes more binding and enforceable, and where this higher body can resolve conflicts between social and environmental imperatives, and trade rules (particularly of the World Trade Organization).
Before the beginning of the Congress, the four Green Federations and Networks— Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe and the Americas—each held their own meetings to discuss internal business and how they would relate to the proposed resolutions of the Congress. In addition, the Global Young Greens met on-site and elected new Steering Committee members and made their own proposed amendments to the resolutions.
Perhaps the most intense negotiations came around the next steps and funding mechanisms for the Global Greens Secretariat. Representatives and observers from each of the Federations and Networks found a hybrid model that combined funding from a variety of sources, that reflected the different types of organization, and internal funding mechanisms and practices within each federation and network.
The GPUS was represented by Bob Marsh (California). Also in attendance as observers from the U.S. were Jack Ailey (Illinois) and Mike Feinstein (California). The meeting was also attended by Eliza Diop, an African-American (California) and Senegalese young woman attending Oberlin College, class of 2014, who participated in the Global Young Greens Congress.
The next Congress will be held somewhere in Europe, sometime between the end of 2016 and early 2017. Previous Global Greens Congresses were held in Brazil (2008) and Australia (2001). Before the Global Greens existed, a non-delegated planetary meeting of Greens was held in Brazil in 1992, in conjunction with the UN Conference on Environment and Development, of which the Rio+20 Summit is the next step.