Campaigning for today's most urgent environmental and social issues has become a backbone task for Friends Of Earth International. Volunteering at this world's largest grassroots environmental network gave me an experience that has not only shaped and instilled the zeal to embrace environmental conservation but also to spearhead awareness across the globe on the importance of people respecting their surroundings. While attached there as a volunteer, I was able to appreciate the various efforts and systems that are laid in place and executed to ensure the network attains its mandate. Their main task is to fall under specific areas that are specialised in agrofuel, climate change and justice, food sovereignty, economic justice, forest biodiversity and water conservation.
Currently the world is witnessing rising oil prices; alternative ways need evaluation to stop depending on oil rich countries that have of late become politically unstable. Northern countries produce large quantities of biofuels also called agrofuel; this activity has a negative effect on the ecosystem and vulnerable communities in the south as a whole (Steg & Vlek 2009). This is severely affecting vulnerable communities and ecosystems in the South. Land grabbing by large companies too happens to be a detrimental factor to the local livelihoods, forests, and human rights. The organization has carried out its daily chore by informing the citizens of the consequences of agrofuel, they also campaign against financial institutions that support this sector to look for alternative ways that will not hurt the livelihood of the local communities. The practices generate some of the serious environmental damages as well as eroding the people's ability to control the production, trade and consumption of food, this is because a lot of land that was to be used for other agricultural activity is dedicated to large scale production of energy crops. This fuel has also been incriminated to elevate levels of greenhouse gases.
Climate Change and Justice
Global warming is of late becoming an issue that needs to be urgently addressed with a lot of seriousness. Related to this are two major issues threatening the lives and livelihood of more than a billion people; this is climate change and the global energy crisis. Their main cause is due to unsustainable levels of energy consumption; they have come up with ways of ensuring the communities involved choose a sustainable energy source and encourage them to develop a healthy consumption level (Steg & Vlek 2009). They have also found out that there is a need for greenhouse gas emissions reduction and for all people to share resources equally within ecological limits. They execute their mandate through proactive, community based campaigns and projects.
Statistics project that there are more than 860 million hungry people in the world. Food insecurity led by large-scale agriculture created by transnational agribusiness Traditional, which has replaced food production in small-scale farming that were initially aimed at feeding the local people. A change in climate has yet added an insult to food production (Scannell & Gifford 2010). Friends of the Earth International has been supporting the small-scale peasant farmers in resisting corporate powers who destroy their livelihoods and impose hunger and conflict on them. This organization does this by helping to build bridges between people and their food; between those who produce and those who consume food.
In doing so they ensure false solutions, like spearheading for genetically modified crops and other corporate-led technologies are stopped and alternative ways adopted. They also ensure the locals are involved in determining and controlling their own food systems. This helps communities become more resilient to climate change.
Policies like neoliberal, which has been promoting privatization, increased exportation, and international trade liberalization, are economic mainstream that do not take into consideration the true value of both social and environmental costs, this has resulted into grave social inequality and exploitation of the world’s natural resources thinking about wealth. The network campaigns to change the course of the economy in a dynamic, creative, and constructive way (Mayer& Frantz2004). They do this by exposing and challenging the influence of big corporations and international institutions advocating for this practice. They also expose and denounce the sovereignty of the corporations in policies and practices that prevent communities from asserting their rights.
Forests and Biodiversity
This organization has in mind the importance of forest to all humankind. They campaign against large-scale industrial plantations, commercialisation, and monoculture. They also support the forest-dwelling communities in upholding collective and traditional land rights (Scannell & Gifford 2010). They also identify and push for traditional and innovative methods to restore and protect species of native origin, secure access for communities and monitor protected areas. They also help to develop and support alternative income generation projects, such as the small-scale trade in non-timber forest products that ensure sustainable livelihoods that do not endanger biodiversity.
Water supply to communities has become scarce; which is majorly due to large-scale projects like hydro-dams and mining operations. The network advocates for such projects if the local community has agreed to it and if it will not threaten access to clean water supply. In promoting Public-Public Partnerships for water management systems, urging water reduction and reuse, and restoring rivers and wetlands to more natural states, water sustainability is no longer an illusion. This is possible by working hand in hand with local communities in protecting their right to water. They campaign against large-scale ‘development’ projects that pollute rivers and or use large quantities of water. In so doing they also mobilize the public to vote for new laws and regulations that keep water in the public domain.
Mayer, F.S., & Frantz, C. M. 2004, ‘The connectedness to nature scale: A measure of individuals’ feeling in community with nature’; Journal of Environmental Psychology; 24 (4), pp. 503-515.
Steg, L & Vlek, C. (2009),Encouraging pro-environmental behaviour: An integrative review and research agenda Journal of Environmental Psychology; 29(3), pp. 309-317.
Scannell, L &, Gifford, R. (2010)’ The relations between natural and civic place attachment and pro-environmental behaviour; Journal of Environmental Psychology; 30 (3), pp. 289-297