The founding conference in January 2007 in Nairobi was a brilliant experience for over 150 young people. This was where we met for the first time and laid down the principles, objectives, and statutes of GYG.
The GYG conference, held from January 16-20 2007, was attended by 156 people, with 133 voting participants, all under 35. The numbers were approximately as follows:
- Africa: 89 (50 Kenyans)
- Americas: 5
- Asia Pacific: 31
- Europe: 26
Accommodation was at the MF Hostel, a leafy property on the outskirts of Nairobi. Tents were rented, and mattresses and blankets were bought. These were later donated to two local facilities in Nairobi, caring for orphans suffering from AIDS and terminal diseases. Video footage of these facilities is online, with the link appearing at the end of this report.
The conference was held in the nearby United States International University (USIU), a twenty minute walk away which participants did as a group at the beginning and end of each day.
GYG employs consensus building as the preferred method of decision making. When gathered in a large group, for example at global congress, an effective way of building consensus is to form small groups for discussion, which later report back on key points of divergence. At the beginning of each session, the group first agrees on how long can be spent discussing each point. Then the following process is taken: The process is undertaken as many times as necessary in the agreed amount of time. If consensus is still not achieved, the person or people not in agreement can choose to stand aside. Standing aside means the people do not take part in that decision and are not responsible for the consequences. If person not in agreement do not stand and aside and block consensus, a vote will be taken. Depending on the size of the group, voting can be done by a show of hands, with voting cards or by crossing the room. To be passed, a proposal must gain two thirds or more of the...read more
Only in 2005 died 2.8 million people because of HIV/Aids. 2 millions alone in Sub-Saharan Africa, 560 thousands in South-East Asia and all in all 25.4 millions people are infected with HIV/Aids. Due to these figures from 2005 of the WHO and knowing that there already exist drugs and therapies to enhance the probability of the chances of these suffering people to live on, someone might be wondering what’s happening (or what’s not happening) here. During the workshop we wanted to get some answers to these questions. Under participation of Mr. Ryuhei Kawada, a Japanese Green activist who’s running for the next elections of the Japanese government, we had an input presentation about the economical background of the lack of an efficient distribution of drugs. Facing the trade-off between the need for drugs as cheap as possible of developing countries and the barriers companies of pharmaceutical products have, we discussed some figures: under the assumption that all infected 25,4 million people get a proper therapy (typically a cocktail of three anti HIV/ Aids drugs – Crixivan, 3TC and CTV) the costs will sum up at US-$ 299 billions. An amount which will succeed the aggregate GDP of the most inflicted Sub-Saharan Countries – US-$ 285 billion in 2001, according to figures of the World Bank. Other economic calculations show that in the year 2010 the GDP of the Republic of South-Africa will be 17% smaller than it would be without lifesaving therapies for its HIV/Aids- victims. Even if companies lower the prices in the markets of developing countries (sometimes because of the pressure of supply of generic substitutes), these prices are relative to the GDP per capita still too high. An aspect which will not change under the current policies of providing pharmaceutical companies patents and exclusive marketing rights for their products in those markets to get a monopolistic position. A possible solution we discussed was the proposal outlined by Mattias Ganslandt in the year 2001 of an international fund to provide theses essential drugs to developing counties. This fund should be under the patronage of WHO or UNAIDS and be financed by developed countries. All in all, under the assumption that a proper treatment won’t cost more than 40% of the GDP per capita, the fund would need sources of between US-$ 8.2 and 12.1 billions per year. In the discussions afterwards we mentioned the already existing Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria which was found 2001 under consideration of the proposals by Ganslandt. Facing the figures published by this fund, that it was fed with US-$ 6.8 billions in five years by now (an amount far too low), we discussed the possibilities of starting a global campaign to rise this issue and to work on the increase of voluntary donations of national developing aid. Too we had a discussion about the differences between the local and national politics toward the issue. Still there are a lot of obstacles to conquer to provide the same attention to sex education in e.g. schools to rise awareness. A process which, as a general outcome towards our opinion, will be the best way to handle the problem. 2.8 millions deaths speak a far too clear language to put the problem...read more
A great deal of web-based work was necessary to organise this conference. Potential participants had a constant stream of questions and answering them was seriously time consuming. One problem we encountered was that people sent their queries to multiple organisers, and some were answered by two people, some none at all. Particularly during the fund raising stage when there were lots of queries about applications, amounts, rejections, acceptances etc, this became problematic. Organisers established a common inbox (a ’front desk’) but still had trouble when more than one of us were checking it. The solution we found was to designate one person to check the front desk inbox, and not to answer all the mails, but forward them to relevant people who have designated areas (ie registrations, financial applications, conference program, visas etc). Registrations for the conference were at times downright chaotic. People who had registered correctly in most cases received all the correct information and had no problems. But those who weren’t properly registered, through their own mistake or that of the organisers, often did not receive the details and information about the conference. The problem was simply that one person was burdened with the enormous task of doing the registrations, and at the time this unfortunate person had a full time job. In retrospect this was far too much work for one person, particularly someone with limited time. In future, an intern or staff member will ideally be dedicated to the task of registering participants and making sure they receive the correct information. They will need to spend most of the working week doing it in the month or so preceding the deadline for applications, and the month afterwards. If this isn’t possible, two or more people will be necessary to deal with the workload. It would be best if these people are physically in the same place, but if not it is imperative they coordinate their work closely. In general it is a significant advantage for organisers to be able to meet and work face-to-face. There was an accumulation of work relating to registrations in the crucial last weeks before the conference. This took up time of the organisers when we needed to be doing other tasks. The reason for this was that deadlines for registrations were extended twice. In future, hopeful participants should be duly warned that a deadline is exactly that, and not just a vague guideline. Organisers should make sure dates are communicated clearly, and then stick to them. There is much work to be completed after the registrations are over, and allowing the process to continue into the end of December was not a good idea. Outside influences demanded our program be changed at the last minute. There were two major changes from the original program, the first being the addition of long plenary sessions. The plenary sessions were not very participatory and people found it hard to sit passively for 2-3 hours without falling asleep. In addition we found that group plenaries are not very effective in terms of reaching consensus- large group discussions are time consuming and can be repetitive as everyone wants to have their say. Plenary sessions where participants have limited should be kept to 1.5 hours maximum. When aiming to reach consensus between a large amount of...read more
With the congress over, many participants attended the opening ceremony of the World Social Forum. Meanwhile, the new steering committee held its first meeting. Good progress was made: in terms of our communication, we agreed to have weekly web-chats at fixed times which people can join when they are able to. We use a google group, which provides group mailing, a forum and the possibility to store and edit shared documents online. We also worked on the action plan, still in progress. In the afternoon, we held a conference with members of the European Parliament. The three Green deputies Alain Lipietz, Marie-Hélène Aubert and Carl Schlyter discussed with us the outcomes of the GYG congress, the situation in the different regions and our future cooperation. The group was then broken up into smaller groups, each led by one deputy, to discuss certain topics more in-depth. This exchange was really worthwhile and interesting for all those involved; and the steering committee believes that similar initiatives and exchanges with members of parliament is something positive to explore for future...read more
Each group nominated presenters to relay what happened in the various discussions. Results will appear on GYG’s wiki page, which is linked from our main website. In the afternoon consensus was found on the objectives of GYG, and presentations were made for possible statutes for the organisation. Janna Schönfeld and Markus Drake had both prepared drafts prior to the conference and presented them to the group. The discussions on principles were extremely time consuming, but it was not wasted time- it demonstrated that everybody had deep interest in the content of the GYG. Later that evening still more group discussions were held at the hostel on the subject of the statutes. There was wariness about forming an overly-centralised or structured organisation, but equal concern that too loose a network would simply disintegrate. In addition, many finer points, such as composition of the steering committee needed serious consideration. Talks went late into the night but were ultimately extremely...read more
The support and advice of older people involved in the Green movement was incredibly important to the GYG founding conference. Beyond financial help, we received vital assistance from seasoned activists, some that we don’t even know about and probably never will. The relationship between the Global Greens, Green parties and GYG is still to unfold but we do know a few things. There has obviously been a strong relationship from the beginning, as the GYG founding conference was supposed to be a ’side conference’ to the Global Greens 2008, which was originally slated for 2007. GYG hopes for a strong relationship with Green political bodies but also wishes to remain an autonomous organisation. Many of GYG’s members are from political parties, but roughly half of the conference participants are invovled with NGOs. There is no pressure in GYG to sign up to a Green party, and it must be acknowledged that there are parties existing in some countries that our members would not consider joining: either because they feel the organisations are unacceptable or they feel it is too dangerous. It was so worthwhile to establish GYG as open to anyone identifying as Green and subscribing to the four principles. The conference was much better for the diversity in backgrounds, and the work we did there developed a strong ideological unity. While our members may only be individuals, we believe that holding this Global Young Greens conference has in some way helped to seed the Green principles and movement around the world. When’s the next...read more
While other participants were attending the tree planting excursion, a new statutes proposal was being worked on at the university. Having listened carefully to the debates, suggestions and concerns of the group, Markus and Janna sat down together and came up with a new draft. So on day four, with Anna Luhrmann facilitating, the group turned its attention to finding consensus on GYG statutes. Fighting time restrictions, amendments were made as we went along. The aim was for consensus but voting was necessary several times. By lunch, the statutes were finished and the relief and sense of achievement were wonderful. During lunch the regions held meetings. With the statutes now finished, it was definite that a steering committee would need to be appointed. Each region appointed representatives in different ways- Europe in a secret ballot, Asia Pacific in a vote with hands, and Africa with a lively group debate. With only five representatives in attendance, the Americas process was slightly simpler. Overseen by an election committee, the congress then voted on the candidates put forward by the regions. After the incoming steering committee was announced and a quick photo opportunity taken, the statement of principles was debated and decided upon. The closing ceremony featured really wonderful speakers. George Paz Martin, a veteran of the USA Green party and the American Peace movement, gave a rousing address which was a great antidote to the tension of the day. Dr. Axel Harneit-Sievers of the Heinrich Böll Foundation again graced us with his presence and gave an encouraging address. Ulrike Lunacek and Phillippe Lamberts, spokespersons of the European Greens, gave us a great double act and some sound advice. Lastly, in a very memorable and moving address, Mr. Ryuhei Kawada of the Japanese Greens shared his struggle living with HIV and his passion for the Green movement. The congress closed with all the participants rushing onto the stage and later, an evening of celebrations. By this stage there was a strong sense of community amongst the...read more
Early in the morning the group left to visit a tree planting project of the Green Belt Movement. In an attempt to offset some of the carbon emissions generated by the conference, organisers arranged for a “GYG forest” of a thousand trees to be planted. However, as January is the wrong season for planting in Nairobi, we could only plant a few and have the others planted later. So it was a ceremonial occasion, but also a wonderful opportunity to see first hand the work of the Green Belt Movement. After a walk in the forest, each region planted a different species of tree to establish the GYG forest. Thanks goes to Green Belt for arranging this activity and for their continuing work towards a greener Kenya. Participants returned two hours later in the afternoon than anticipated, which unfortunately meant the afternoon’s program had to be cut down. We had a series of workshops scheduled, and while they still went ahead, it was with severe time restrictions. Even so, the energy during these sessions was amazing. After spending so long focusing on the organisation of GYG, it was great to focus on the issues that motivate us to be young Greens in the first place. Not only this, but there are not too many opportunities to discuss these things with twenty or so other young people from across the globe. Participants responded really well to having the opportunity to speak about subjects they are passionate about. The workshop themes were: Health and ethics in the supermarket age Climate change, Green energy and transport Focus on Africa Electoral campaigning and media skills Water problems and solutions Gender and GYG Critical health: HIV/AIDS and the GYG response How GYG will communicate and disseminate Youth advocacy: formulating a GYG method Starting/running a political group or NGO At the close of the day, a brief plenary session was held and voting methods agreed...read more
Most participants arrived on January 15th, and thankfully had time to get to know each other and recover from their travels. So on the morning of day one, after some additional registrations, the group set off for the university where the conference was to be held. People continued to arrive throughout the day, and indeed throughout the conference! The opening ceremony began with introductions by Juliet Mugure and Peter Mungai of the Green Belt Movement, kind hosts of the GYG in Nairobi. Keynote speaker Anna Luhrmann, the youngest Green ever to be elected to parliament that we know of (nineteen when elected- in case anyone knows of someone younger), gave a fantastic address and continued to provide a source of sanity and inspiration throughout the conference. Addresses from Juan Behrend, Secretary General of the European Green Party, Dr. Axel Harneit-Sieversof the Heinrich Böll Foundation and Catherine Greze of the Global Greens then set the conference in motion. After the opening, participants had the chance to introduce their organisations and themselves to the group. Around thirty people gave short explanations of their various works, and it was a great shame we had to move along quickly, as this activity visibly engaged the participants. In the afternoon participants were randomly divided into groups for discussions to see what they could make of four questions: What are the issues of the Global Greens? What are the issues of the GYG movement? Do we need a GYG congress? If so, how do we achieve it? Each group had a lively debate, from which a collective vision for GYG began to take...read more
The GYG conference, held from January 16-20 2007, was attended by 156 people, with 133 voting participants, all under 35. Despite efforts of the organisers, the gender balance was still 2:1 male to female. The numbers were approximately as follows: Africa: 89 (50 Kenyans) Americas: 5 Asia Pacific: 31 Europe: 26 Accommodation was at the MF Hostel, a leafy property on the outskirts of Nairobi. Tents were rented, and mattresses and blankets were bought. These were later donated to two local facilities in Nairobi, caring for orphans suffering from AIDS and terminal diseases. Video footage of these facilities is online, with the link appearing at the end of this report. Further details of these facilities will appear soon on www.globalyounggreens.org. Thanks goes to Tom Millen for taking this initiative. The conference was held in the nearby United States International University (USIU), a twenty minute walk away which participants did as a group at the beginning and end of each...read more