For Mother Earth/Voor Moeder Aarde Flemish environmental organisation Links between the environment, human rights and disarmament
For Mother Earth/Voor Moeder Aarde… History Our ways of working For Mother Earth in FoEI Current campaigns - environment.- human rights- disarmament Future plans
For Mother Earth: History 1991 Founded in Ghent, Flanders 1992 “Walk Across America For Mother Earth”
500 years of resistance to the arrival of Columbus Opposition to “nuclear colonialism” affecting indigenous people.
1995 walk from Brussels to Moscow, “For a Nuclear Free World”. 1996 walk to Chernobyl, through the contaminated areas, to mark the 10th anniversary of the nuclear disaster. 1998 walk from Brussels to Faslane, Scotland, for a world without nuclear weapons. 1999 walk from The Hague to Brussels, to bring the issue of the illegality of nuclear weapons to NATO headquarters.
2004 we walked from NATO headquarters in Brussels to the “peace city” of Ypres, to mark the 59th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima.
1995Boycott of French products against nuclear testing in Polynesia. 1996 France and China halt nuclear testing.
1997 Campaign of “Citizens Weapons Inspections” at nuclear weapon related sites.
1999 The Ghent Ecological Centre (an initiative of For Mother Earth) opens it doors
2002 Largest Citizens Weapons Inspection action “Bomspotting” action at Kleine Brogel. Over 2000 people attended with 1117 arrests.
2002 Belgian government announces the phase-out the use of nuclear power, after consistent actions and pressure from For Mother Earth and other NGOs.
2003 - 2004 Active role in the Belgian and international anti-war movement. Many millions of people on the streets to oppose illegal war against Iraq.
Call for a boycott of selected US products supported by hundreds of groups and individuals around the world.
For Mother Earth: Our ways of working Reaching members of the public: demonstrations, info-tables, awareness raising
Nonviolent direct action can achieve extra attention and political pressure Can also directly halt environmentally destructive practices
Can lead to confrontation with the legal system Court cases used in our campaigning work, to raise issues of (international) law
Our magazine “Bulletin Voor Moeder Aarde” comes out every 3 months (in Dutch). We also have a new e-zine that is produced every month.
Our websites: www.motherearth.org www.moederaarde.be
Political lobbying is also important, and we have contacts with members of regional, national and European parliaments.
We are a pluralistic organisation, which is independent of any political party or religion.
Nonhierarchical structures, and consensus decision making are important as both ends and means.
Some of the volunteers in our office come through the European Voluntary Service (EVS) scheme. Volunteers from across Flanders and many different countries. No paid staff, so volunteers are involved in all aspects of campaigning and administrative work.
Campaigns decided every year by our annual general meeting and the working groups Campaigning work is done by working groups, under the headings of environment, human rights and disarmament, which meet regularly throughout the year People from each of the working groups meet every 2 months at a “spokes council” meeting, which also includes our board of directors
Cooperation with other organisations in Flanders: Bond Beter Leefmilieu (the Flemish environmental umbrella organisation) Gents Ecologisch Centrum The Platform against war in Iraq VIBE (Flemish Institute for Organic-Ecological Buliding and Living) Ecopower (a green energy cooperative) Platform for Organic Agriculture Netwerk Bewust Verbruiken (Network for Conscious Consumption)
International cooperation is also important we are part of: Abolition 2000, the network for the abolition of nuclear weapons International Peace Bureau Boycott Bush international network
Informal links with many environmental, peace and human rights groups in Flanders and around the world. Especially: World Social Forum and European Social Forum meetings, and the international “No US bases” network.
Nature of this cooperation varies but we play an active role in the groups of which we are a member.
For Mother Earth in FoEI: • help consolidate international campaigns • bring new energy and ideas to our campaigns at a local and regional level • make links between environmental, human rights and disarmament issues • close to Brussels and the European decision makers
Belgium divided into 3 geographical regions: Flanders (Dutch speaking), Wallonia (French speaking), Brussels (bilingual). “Amis de la Terre Belgique” active in the French speaking part of the country. Flanders has a separate environment ministry, regional parliament, media, businesses and NGOs. Significant cultural, linguistic and historical differences between the regions.
It is necessary to have two separate FoE groups, each working within their own community. • Independent strategy and management • Convention between For Mother Earth and Amis de la Terre Belgique • Inform the other group of activities. • “Committee of dialogue” to solve any problems • Meeting every year to evaluate the cooperation.
For Mother Earth: environment campaigns Organic agriculture/pesticides: • promotes organic agriculture • lobbying for financial incentives • raising awareness of organic products • organic restaurant
We take part in actions in Brussels organised by FoE Europe on the issue of Genetically Modified (GM) food.
The transport campaign calls for: • better access to public transport • reduced dependence on polluting forms of transport • car-free, clean and liveable cities for all • zero tolerance for death and injury caused by traffic
Nuclear energy/waste: • decision to phase out nuclear power by 2025 • more conservative government could withdraw this • ensure that the phase-out takes place • achieve the same result in other countries.
Climate change: • worked with FoE Europe on the “Carbon Dinosaur” action at the European Commission in June 2004 • the carbon dinosaur returns to Belgium on 4th October for an action in Ghent
For Mother Earth: human rights campaigns Depleted Uranium weapons: • ill health, birth defects and serious environmental contamination in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans. • leading the Belgian coalition to Stop Uranium Weapons. • environmental, human rights and disarmament issue
Nanish Shontie: • an intertribal, interracial community under the guidance of indigenous people, based in Oregon, USA. • people active in campaigns against nuclear testing, dumping and mining on land traditionally used by indigenous people.
Guarani: • practical and political support • Guarani expelled from ancestral grounds in Brazil for the construction of big hydro-electric plant
For Mother Earth: disarmament campaigns • struggle to abolish nuclear weapons at regional, European, international level • “Mayors for Peace” initiative • nuclear testing • “Citizens Weapons Inspections” Nuclear weapons:
Actively support campaigns of anti-nuclear nonviolent direct action in Belgium (the “Bomspotting” campaign) and the UK (the “Trident Ploughshares” campaign)
Peace Prisoners: • opposition to military service is a fundamental human right. • “Case Hermaja” focuses on Finland. • follow cases in Israel, Greece, Turkey and USA. • nuclear disarmers and whistleblowers
Boycott Bush: • pressure on the “Rogue State” by targeting election funding • opposition to the war in Iraq and disarmament issues • environmental issues (Kyoto and GMO)
For Mother Earth: future plans Strategic plan: • defining a vision • expertise from outside the organisation • building capacity
10,000 members by the year 2010 • to become an important part of the political landscape in Flanders • incorporating existing local environmental groups • establishing new local groups