Congress roundup

Congress roundup

Photo: Riccardo Pareggiani (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0), courtesy of European Greens

Greens from around the world descended on Liverpool this spring to discuss progressive ideas and global cooperation at Congress 2017

The hundreds of Global Greens visiting Liverpool this spring (some in the UK for the first time) were met with the full spectrum of British weather, from hail to rain, sunshine to greyness. But no matter the weather outside, the conference centre on the scenic Albert Docks was teeming with ideas, excitement, discussion and global cooperation. 

For the first time ever, the party’s Spring Conference took place alongside the Global Greens Congress (which takes place once every five years) and the annual European Greens Congress. In the week that our government triggered Article 50 and our freedom of movement and global relationships were put at risk, there was certainly a sense that a gathering of like-minded progressive activists from six continents was especially powerful. 

Our Global friends came bearing stickers, t-shirts, hats, and locally-made wares, which livened up the many stalls around the conference hall. Seeing what Greens from across the globe are campaigning on – from the Australian Green Party’s fight to protect the Great Barrier Reef, to the Green Party of Korea’s battle against nuclear weaponry – was an amazing way to understand what the green movement means to activists around the world. 

Amelia Womack and former leader of Green Party of Wales Alice Hooker-Stroud chaired the Global Greens Welcome and Keynote addresses, featuring speeches from Greens from Mauritius, Australia and the UK. There were many highlights in the Global Greens Congress that followed – on Thursday, Young Greens of England and Wales enjoyed getting to know the Global Young Greens (GYG) in a GYG get-together, and as a result of our strong links, two England and Wales Young Greens were elected to the GYG steering committee! On Friday, our former leader Natalie Bennett joined Green leaders from around the world, including USA presidential candidate Jill Stein, for a panel on electoral reform and proportional representation. Hearing from panellists from Japan, Korea, Australia and the States was a reminder that the battle for fair votes extends well beyond what we experience here in the UK. 

We did, however, have to put a bit of time aside for our own politics! On Friday, our Co-Leaders’ speech brought a great audience to the auditorium, and, as well as calling for action and rousing hope, it identified some of our great successes since we convened in Birmingham last year – such as winning a council seat from UKIP, and electing our youngest-ever Green councillor. 

The power of young people was as strong as ever, as the Young Greens launched the People Not Numbers campaign to empower refugees and migrants, with a panel on Friday featuring two MEPs and three Young Greens who are migrants. 

On Saturday, our MEPs joined colleagues from the Greens group in the European Parliament to discuss the view from Brussels, and how Greens are pushing for change across the Channel. 

At another fringe on Saturday, our Co-Leaders were joined by friends from Compass, the Guardian, and Richmond Green Party to discuss one of the most contentious issues in the party right now. No, not Jonathan’s choice of tie. Progressive alliances, of course. The forum certainly gave some food for thought and it might have swayed a member or two, as the Leaders’ motion to seek electoral alliances in selected constituencies in future general elections (as a step towards proportional representation) passed at a voting plenary session later that day. 

These plenary sessions are an integral part of Conference, and we were proud to see some important motions get voted through, such as Natalie Bennett’s Environmental Protection Act emergency motion, which will ensure that the party fights for legal protection of our environment post-Brexit. 

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