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:
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.