Global and European Greens Congress: On the agenda

Potentially the largest-ever gathering of Greens will be taking place in the UK this year when the Global and European Greens hold their joint Congress in Liverpool from 31 March until 2 April. Green World asked delegates from around the world for their thoughts on the plenary sessions and some of the other key topics that are likely to be discussed when we all meet at the ACC

Climate change (‘Fighting for Hope: From Paris to 1.5 Degrees’ plenary on Friday, 31 March, 9 - 10:30) 

Frank Habineza, Africa Green Federation (AGF), President: 

The outcomes of the Paris Agreement were great, but were non-binding and therefore not an international treaty. Countries voluntarily set their national targets for carbon emissions – a serious weakness, since it’s not an obligation. 

Coal, the main source of human carbon emissions wasn’t properly addressed in the Paris Agreement and this puts the planet at the mercy of the biggest polluters: the United States, China and India have no legal obligation to stop polluting, so it all depends on their will. More than that, there was also no agreement on including a carbon tax in the Paris agreement, which would have impacted transporters and power suppliers to change their decisions and start limiting their carbon emissions. 

The Marrakech summit was a positive step towards the implementation of the Paris agreement, with world leaders recommitting themselves to take action on climate change and sustainable development, but a legally-binding international treaty should be the ultimate target. 

 

Evelyne Huytebroeck, Member of the European Green Party Committee: 

It was a success that no countries retreated from the Paris Agreement at COP22 in Marrakech, even after the election of the climate change-sceptic Donald Trump. But the adopted ‘agreement’ is quite general and success in the next two years will depend on the willingness of every state to pursue the process on a voluntary basis. 

Greens will stay aware and remind all of the commitments that were made so far at every level. We will put pressure on associations, civil society, the financial world... We know that the move towards a fossil-free society is now unstoppable, and moving backwards is not an option. Cities and regions are taking further steps in this process and sometimes faster than states, and Greens are with them. 

In Liverpool, Greens from all around the world will confirm their engagement in fighting climate change, the biggest environmental, economic and social challenge for future generations. 

 

Tackling tax evasion (‘Fighting Inequality by Empowering People’ plenary on Saturday, 1 April, 16 - 17:30) 

Seung-woo Ha, co-chairperson of Green Party Korea’s Policy Committee: 

Green Party Korea has a policy to realise the basic income... and also proposes policies to increase the minimum corporate tax rate and reduce tax exemption for large corporations, and to collect ecological taxes in order to phase out nuclear power generation and cope with climate change. 

 

Dr Kennedy Graham, New Zealand Green Party MP:

There is a need for a more assertive global approach to tax evasion. It has been left too long to national authority – legislation and enforcement – thereby allowing international secrecy to win out, encouraging evasion primarily by global corporates. The UN needs to collaborate more with the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the Bank of International Settlements to develop a set of global principles, and rules for operational transparency of national tax laws. 

The Congress could establish a Global Greens Working Group, designed to develop ideas for a coordinated Green strategy on tax evasion, for implementation in national parliaments. 

 

Encouraging greater participation and true democracy (‘Green Political Democracy from Grassroots to Government’ plenary on Saturday, 1 April 2017, 09 - 10:30) 

Dr Kennedy Graham, New Zealand Green Party MP: 

People have not lost interest in current affairs – what goes on around them. What has changed is the means by which they express themselves and also the pace of change occurring. 

The digital revolution has given us all instant knowledge of global events and insights into how others live, anywhere on the planet. But it has also spawned negatives – hysterical reporting, even ‘false news’ – giving rise to what is called ‘post-truth uncertainty’. This inflames cultural bias and bigotry. 

National leadership everywhere needs to find new ways, appropriate to each society, for young people to augment their modern knowledge base and social media links with new ways of public engagement. The Congress could seek to identify ways in which national societies might develop new public channels for political expression and action by the disenfranchised, having special regard to age, gender and ethnicity. 

 

Building bridges, not walls: Greens on migration 

Margaret Blakers, Global Greens Convenor (Australia-based): 

People move for many reasons, fleeing war and persecution, in search of a better life, or displaced by environmental catastrophes – one of which increasingly will be climate change. The influx of refugees and immigrants into Europe in the last two years has grabbed the headlines, but huge numbers of people also move between low-income countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, and within countries from rural to urban centres. 

We Greens are bridge-builders, welcoming diversity, celebrating multiculturalism, standing up for the rights of refugees and asylum seekers. But politically, we have to contend with those pushing fear, xenophobia and racism, throwing up walls against migrants. How?! Join the discussion at the Green Congress 2017, with perspectives from different countries around the world. 

 

Practical peace-making: Learning from countries that have experienced conflict 

Seung-woo Ha and Yu-jin Lee (pictured), chairperson of Green Party’s Korea’s Anti-nuclear Committee: 

In the context of Korea, perhaps the only divided nation in the world, Green Party Korea sets the goal of building a society globally that is responsible for making peace in East Asia beyond the Korean peninsula. In order to pursue the goal, the party proposed in the last general election to legislate the overseas dispatch of armed forces and to regulate the production and exportation of inhumane weapons, while also opposing any kinds of development, possession, or use of nuclear weapons. Green Party Korea also pledged to change armistice into a peace structure between North and South Korea. 

To construct a peaceful society, the party is now making plans to make human rights a mandatory subject, not only in curricula for elementary, middle, and high school students, but also in civil service examination and continuing education for government officials, and to integrate it with education for democratic citizenship and peace. 

We would like to share similar concerns with members of other global Green parties and discuss this and other issues with them at the Congress. In some respects, international joint actions could make a breakthrough to solve a domestic problem. 

 

Hopes for the overall outcomes of the Congress 

Federation of the Green Parties of the Americas (FPVA): 

Beyond the official topics to be discussed, the Federation of Green Parties of the Americas hopes that this Global Greens Congress will be a real space of rapprochement between the Greens of the world. We hope to find a space open to the knowledge of the different identities that enrich political ecology and the recognition of the tireless work of many Green parties that establish government policies in order to achieve sustainable development, as well as their efforts to protect ecosystems and the species that they shelter. 

Any left- or right-wing party can talk about democracy, tax evasion or migration and may even have a broad ecological programme, but that does not make them Greens. We hope that this next meeting will enable us to recognise and strengthen our global identity as Green parties.  

More information about the 2017 Green Congress is available at: greens2017.org