Message from the ECOLISE co-president

Welcome and thanks.

Good morning, everybody. Let me start by offering a warm welcome and thank you to all those that are here today at ECOLISE’S 8th official General Assembly, our 2022 GA. I’d like to offer a special welcome to those for whom this is their first GA. Normally our GA’s have been 2-day events in hybrid format, our community physically meeting face to face somewhere, accompanied by those participating fully online. All went online for the last 2 years due to COVID. This GA has just one busy day for us to deal with the business at hand. I’d also like us to remember that there are some friends who have been here with us in the past, who are not here today. Special thank you to Eamon O’Hara who helped bring this body into being, who has worked tirelessly to keep it going.. He is now stepping back a bit, but this is just a changing of the chapters. Thank you Eamon.

Why are we here?

In 2014 the European Network for Community-Led Initiatives on Climate Change and Sustainability came into being; ECOLISE is a network of networks. But it’s important we take a moment to reflect on why we came together in the first place. Our home, planet earth, is being radically altered by our oil addiction and loss of connection with nature, so much that last April’s IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report stated: ‘Now or never’ if world is to stave off climate disaster. Put simply, unless we humans are capable of quickly bringing about total system change, it could soon be the death of our own species. So, why do we do what we do? As Isabelle Frémeaux and Jay Jordan of The Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination put it so beautifully during the COP 21 at Paris in 2015: “We are not fighting for nature, WE ARE NATURE defending itself”.

Where are we at?

As many here know from last year, ECOLISE is in a challenging place. At last year’s GA it came to light to many outside ECOLISE’s core of council and team, including myself, that there were serious problems within the organisation. The advice offered to the new council of 11, and a divided and dysfunctional team, was to go into cocoon. We heeded this wise suggestion. Inspired by the transformation process of the butterfly, the wider network and world has seen little external activity from us, but a huge amount of internal activity has happened, to address our conflicts, redesign organizational structures, and experiment with communication processes to create safer spaces for dialogues to happen. Tough and challenging truths were shared as we began to listen to ourselves more deeply, together. Some people left the team and many left the council for different reasons (We’ve gone from 11, to 9, to 7, and now only 2 will stay on for the second year of their 2-year term). But, in sharing these sad realities, we have also seen a turning point happen within, in recent weeks. 3 new people have joined the team and lots of structural changes have begun, which we will explore with you here today.

Remembering our journey.

In 2019 something beautiful erupted. Thanks to Greta Thunberg in Sweden, Vanessa Nakate in Uganda and thousands of young climate strikers around the world, “Fridays for Future” was born. At Waterloo Bridge and other locations in London, intergenerational and intersectional communities of Extinction Rebellion showed that direct action still gets results.

In 2020 ECOLISE had a wonderful, hope-filled GA, where our Keynote speaker Daniel Wahl urged us to remember E.F. Schumacher’s wisdom: “Perhaps we cannot raise the winds. But each of us can put up the sail, so that when the wind comes we can catch it” and in September that year ECOLISE launched “Communities for Future”, our action platform to mainstream regenerative and transformative community-led action. It really felt like our time had arrived.

Then we had our 2021 GA, conflicts escalated and much of the work stopped.

Now GA 2022… Together, here and now, we decide what our next step is to be…

Deepening our impact

ECOLISE has a superb toolkit ready for the service of humanity, but how useful are we really being? How many of the climate striker kids have heard of us? How many of those working in the policy labyrinth at Brussels know of us, or our solutions from the field? How many communities in our European countries actually participate in the “European Day of Sustainable Communities”? How many of the thousands of people from our 49 different member groups actually participated in drafting our 6 policy papers we submitted to the EESC (European Economic and Social Committee) in Brussels last September? How many of us have read the 17 keys for Sustainable Just Cities that our UrbanA project helped create? Does our work in any way help our members reach their goals? Can citizens at the edges easily be part of “Communities for Future”? Could ECOLISE be better, work better, serve better? If yes, what needs to be nudged to allow ECOLISE all it can be? Dear ECOLISE member groups and people thinking of standing for this year’s council, how can you and your member group(s) be part of this regenerative transformation? What is needed for your group(s) to go further, building on improved interactions with other member groups in the ECOLISE community? By strengthening the network within ECOLISE, how best can we support the wider climate movements? From there, what’s needed to bring about a global eco-social just transition?

An invitation to the fantastic adventure

ECOLISE is a very diverse community, with different roots and lived experiences, but have we a shared value system yet? Have we adequate and safe enough spaces and moments, both online and off, to meet, share, listen, learn, work and celebrate together? Can we agree on what we stand together for? Can we agree on what we stand together against? Can we collectively tackle the difficult question of ‘What would it mean to win?’. We need to not only “fight the good fight”, but to fight truly believing that we will win. As Angela Davis said, “You have to act as if it were possible to radically transform the world. And you have to do it all the time.” ECOLISE needs to tell itself and the world better stories, more appealing, adventurous, exciting and intriguing stories. Stories that make you want to just dive right in, roll up the sleeves and get involved. To be part of something that makes you feel fully alive. ECOLISE needs to make this both desirable and accessible, so that all wishing to be part of this fantastic adventure, can do so. For this, we need better dreams and more magic. For this we need to improve what we are doing here in Europe, but also as our place in an interconnected and interdependent planetary species embedded in its beautiful home. In fact, it was only by having those difficult conversations with ourselves over the last year that we started to become that which we need to be, to truly stand alongside those already at the front line of the climate justice battle. To win means connecting again to the indigenous wisdom we all belonged to, not so long ago. To re-member, to re-connect ourselves to our places. It also means building bridges of understanding and solidarity across continents, languages and till now, unseen prejudices. We are one, our home is one, planet earth is one, mother earth is one.

Long live Mother Earth. VIVA LA PACHAMAMA

(Duncan Crowley, ECOLISE co-president, presented this speech at the ECOLISE 2022 General Assembly (GA) on May 20 2022)




Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store