The Global Greens meeting held in Australia was an attempt to bring together many different politicians to address both global and local issues. The meeting was a success, allowing a Greens Charter to be endorsed by all the participants. However, the major success was the ability to overcome some cultural problems by focussing on a process of dialogue and understanding
12 / 2001
In May 2001, over 800 delegates from 84 nations gathered in Sydney Australia for the first global meeting of Green parties. Anne De La Bouillerie Goeke from the United States Greens was at the meeting, as well as being a member of the reference committee that did much of the background work. One of the successful aspects of the meeting was that it allowed the establishment of a political space for people from many different cultures to come together to discuss complicated issues. A political space exists everywhere in the world now because of the internet. But international meetings like that of the Global Green facilitates another side - a face-to-face side that promotes solidarity. This is how trust is established. Ultimately, it is trust that allows us to work together. Internet can only go so far in establishing relationships, face-to-face contacts solidify trust. Global Greens was a very insightful process for Anne. It was the culmination of a 12 year vision, to bring people who have similar political beliefs and work for the Green parties to together. One of the important aspects of this process was that it was empowering for many people who may often feel isolated. Feelings of isolation can occur for those who work in opposition politics. But by coming together, people experience a sense of solidarity. For a meeting to be successful however, there is also a need to ensure that people get something out of it - to build on something. Building on previous work rather than repeating similar topics can achieve this. This is how it is possible to promote global transformations. The key to achieve this and work in a cross-cultural setting is to ensure open and honest communications and debate. But this requires both an internal and external transformation, and can only be achieved over a period of time. This means that there is a need to be only honest externally, but also to establish an internal desire and willingness to work towards learning how to listen, respect, collaborate and aim for a consensus point. It assisted people to evolve beyond their egos. For Anne, both internal and external change is how we evolve as human beings. Anne believes that the Global Greens meeting succeeded in achieving this. There is a great deal of effort required to ensure success within cross-cultural setting. First there is the North-South divide. Each group experiences different struggles. There is a need to gain a deep understanding how these challenges are different. The North must give space to allow the South to develop its own agenda, definitions and so on. There is also a need to build trust and not look at each other for answers. This is translated into accepting and understanding the need for compromise. For example, one of the major discussions was about the reform or abolishment of the World Trade Organisation. There was much discussion and debate, but in the end it was agreed that that if the WTO could not conform to the Green agenda, then it should be abolished Likewise, the discussion regarding human rights and respect for cultural diversity. Here the debate focussed on the recognition of gay/lesbian/transsexual rights. Some national representatives stated that this would compromise them in their own nations. Thus, it was overcome by making a general statement supporting human rights, but not detailing them. It is such respect for difference that ensured that representatives did not attack each other, and attempted to understand each other’s position. By not condemning others, you ensure understanding of human, political and cultural diversity. This is about focussing on the process not just the outcomes, because it is not possible to continue to make demands of people to change. For example, no one can ever truly be green, we all impact on the earth. We can only aim for an underlying ethos, and then deal with the rest There is something different about the green political space that allows this to be achieved. This allows for the participants to interact on such controversial issues. One of the reasons why the green space is different is that there are different people present, including activists and not just politicians. There is also an attempt to feminise politics, rather than follow traditional masculine process.
There were many positive outcomes from the conference. Firstly, many new contacts were made, as well as having an opportunity to promote what Green parties around the world are doing. There was also recognition that it is possible for the Greens be used to promote plurality of agendas. The meeting also aimed to ensure better communication between different levels of activists and politicians. This is important, because you must affect local level solutions before you can achieve global change. The major achievement was the ability to produce a final document, which all participants endorsed. Complete consensus was achieved in establishing the Global Greens charter (the document is available at www.global.greens.org.au http://www.global.greens.org.au in French, Spanish and English). Consensus was reached because the above pre-requisites were met. That is, there was recognition of diversity, plurality and space for debate. For example, the charter was built over a four-year period via email. This length of time allowed for a great deal of local level discussion in each nation, as well as national level discussion. At the conference, there was also a great time given to allow for amendments. The night before the final vote there was 120 requested amendments, which the entire delegation had, room to discuss. Additional areas that did not form part of the four-year discussion were excluded however, and were placed on the table for discussion at the next meeting. By undertaking such a process, it gives room for things to evolve. There was an understanding that everyone wanted to go home with something signed. Thus, people new it was not perfect, but agreeing on the major areas was better than getting stuck on the minor stuff Nevertheless, there is room for improvement. There is a need to ensure that there is a conscious effort for people to communicate and undertake work in preparation. There is also a need to take advantage of the momentum and undertake actions immediately. In a way, the Greens appear to have failed to do this appropriately. There were also the usual personal collisions. Somewhere focussed around the question of funding, which often has impacts on social movements. There is also a need to simplify the language and ensure that politics needs to be undertaken on different levels. Politics and diversity are not easy, but it is possible to bring love and politics together.
This file was made in an interview at the World Assembly, Lille, France with Anne De La Bouillerie Goeke, Co Chair International Committee