EEB 2020 Annual Conference & General Meeting

The two day online event of the European Environmental Bureau followed a weekend long Board Meeting including the 2020 Annual Conference and an Annual General Meeting – all incredibly insightful and well organised, especially given the challenge of an all online event.

The Conference on Monday the 9th hosted some incredible speakers such as Kate Raworth who beautifully stated that it is time for us to reimagine what prosperity looks likein light of a system change to fight climate change.

Another crucial speaker was Virginijus Sinkevičius, the Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, who answered questions about the role of the EU commission in making change happen at a legislative and policy level in the EU. On this specific point in time he says “we might not have a second chance and right now we have a unique change” talking about the European Green Deal and the laws that are being drafted and implemented now.

Leonore Gewessler, the Austrian Minister for Climate Action and Environment, shared a similar sentiment and stated that the only vaccination against the climate crisis is urgent action” and that “leaving no one behind is essential and needs to be taken seriously as we implement policies that are oriented towards the future.” 

YEE’s very own Nathan Metenier was also given the floor to address Elisabeth Freytag-Rigler (who is the Head of Directorate EU-Coordination Climate and Environment in the Austrian Federal Ministry for Sustainability and Tourism):  “It is essential that the EU and its member states take a clear commitment to align the Energy Charter Treaty negotiations with the European Green Deal and the Paris Agreement. This requires to end the protection clauses for fossil fuels or, and the right of investors to sue governments for stepping up climate action. If a real reform of the ECT is not possible, the EU and its Member States need to withdraw from the Treaty.” And asked: “Is the Austrian government ready to walk the talk and substantially change the Treaty or to scrap it all together?

The Austrian Government answered that the treaty is old fashioned and it is believed that it is outdated and confirmed that there is a renegotiation about this charter going on since there are concerns that the Treaty does not comply with the Paris Agreement.

This idea of reforming but not deleting is one that is felt by many as unsatisfactory, especially as it involves not only the ECT but the CAP as well. On this EP Members like Pascal Canfin (another speaker for the conference) continue to believe in a continuous negotiation between actors on the CAP rather than wanting to delete it.

However among some of the speakers, someone who really spoke to me in discussing the important issues among the climate crisis was Tonny Nowshin, who works in Anti-Colonization in Environmental Policies and is a Environmental Justice and Degrowth activist. She brought into the Conference a topic that would have otherwise gone undetected, about climate racism and European responsibilities not only in the continent, but abroad as well. She stated, for instance, that “CAP affects people not only in Europe but also in West Africa and farmers in Bangladesh” and also discussed the importance to take into consideration different ways of knowledge and solutions for biodiversity that are not western – because of the risk of reproducing old colonial structures within the environmental movement.

The Conference also included Ana Colovic Lesoska, a Goldman Environmental Prize Winner and Executive Director Eko-svest, who gave an important perspective on the role of the Balkans in Europe and their approach to climate change.

The EEB Annual General Meeting – that followed the conference on both the 9th and 10th of November – picked up on several of these topics and brought forth an important perspective and raised necessary challenges for the EU and how the EEB can be involved in it. Youth and Environment Europe representatives raised some concerns around youth involvement and presented the different projects and actions planned by different youth movements in Europe and abroad.


0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *