Young Friends of the Earth Europe get busy in Bonn
I’ve just arrived back from an international meeting in Germany with Young Friends of the Earth Europe (Young FoEE) members from six countries.
We were based at a climate camp taking place alongside the UNFCCC Bonn Climate Change Talks. The camp was run by Klimawelle (climate wave) and acted as a meeting point and resource for activists. People from all over the world used it as a base to plan actions, share skills, make activist art, discuss ideas, and live together in a communal, nurturing space for a few days.
The main objectives of the Young FoEE meeting were to discuss the year so far, and to share our plans for the rest of the year. We have lots of exciting campaigns and actions to roll out over the next six months, so watch this space!
On Friday, Young FoEE were part of a coordinated
action outside the Hotel Maritim, where the negotiations are taking place, in support of the Cochabamba People’s Agreement, which is not on the agenda for discussion in spite of its widespread support among many country delegations. We also delivered a workshop at the Klimaforum Bonn entitled “Building a youth movement for climate justice: tools, techniques and tactics for a just future” where we sought to build a common understanding of Climate Justice, share activism stories and successes, and feed our outcomes back to the youth movement. We had 20 young people attend from different countries and organisations, and hope that they all benefited from the session in some way. If you would like a copy of the notes from the workshop, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
As well as information and skill sharing with other young people, we also contributed to a day of action alongside NGOs and people’s movements from Germany, Europe and beyond.
Beginning with a coal protest coordinated by BUND (Friends of the Earth Germany) and Attac Deutschland (German Attac) outside the Hotel Maritim, we moved onto a march that was more like a carnival procession than any other mass demonstration I’ve been at. This was in large part thanks to Rhythms of Resistance, an eclectic samba band whose mission is to fuse militant and creative forms of resistance. Artists at the climate camp had also spent the entire week trying to motivate campers to produce an array of banners and flags to wave along the way, and many demonstrators wore t-shirts printed with techniques we had shared in the camp’s creative spaces.
A group of organisations arranged a Reclaim the Streets party to follow this colourful demonstration, and a coordinated action resulted in blockading a petrol station and multistorey carpark in central Bonn. Banners saying “Total = Aral = Shell = BP” connecting general fuel consumption to the Deepwater Horizon disaster, while more banners demanded “System Change not Climate Change”. Testament to the success of this message was an announcement from the petrol station owner that he supported our action and was happy not to have any business all day because of it. So, Rhythms of Resistance drummed their hearts out, Food not Bombs Düsseldorf fed us all in their inimitable style, and everyone ate and danced and chatted like sitting on the white lines in the middle of the road was something we do every weekend. Even a senior policeman came over to check we were all having a good time and express public support for our campaign, saying he hoped we would make the national media that day.
So, those were the highlights of my trip to Bonn with Young FoEE. It was all work, and I arrived home from my 18-hour journey by bus and train exhausted, but our work can be creative, noisy, sociable and joyful, too. We are, after all, fighting for everything that is good about our planet.