In my latest blog before Summer Recess I announced our world conference "Eco-Crisis: Turning the Tide", which we were going to organise in cooperation with our Portuguese sister party PAN. In early September, campaigners for the planet and animal rights from 28 (!) different countries joined forces in Porto to discuss further cooperation in tackling the ecological crisis. It was marvellous to see so many people from across the world rise to protect animals, nature and the environment!
Among the speakers was Ingrid Visseren, one of the writers of the IPBES report, the United Nations' main report on biodiversity. She aptly pointed out: "In practice, environmental and nature policies on the one hand and animal welfare policies on the other are often considered different policy areas. In order to ensure the viability of the earth, we need to integrate these areas." This is precisely what our political parties for animals across the world are about. During the conference, 15 of our sister parties were present and we celebrated the establishment of four new sister parties in Czechia, Denmark, Greece, and Moldova.
Put a great number of people with strong ideals together, and this will inevitably lead to action. The conference participants gathered in front of the Brazilian consulate carrying a clear message: stop deforestation, and place the interests of people, animals, nature and environment above economic and commercial interests! In the Netherlands, the Party for the Animals has been the only political party to address the problem: the EU is importing cattle feed and meat from South American countries such as Brazil and intends to use the EU-Mercosur trade agreement to make this process even easier and cheaper. However, these products are a major cause of deforestation in the Amazon and human rights violations. Therefore, the Mercosur trade deal would be disastrous to animals, people and our planet.
To conclude our action, we created an environmentally friendly graffiti piece carrying the fitting message: "Protect Biodiversity!"
I had the honour of giving a public speech during the conference in Porto. In a packed room of an old trading centre, I discussed the vital importance of a new kind of politics: one that no longer focuses merely on man's ego and economic growth, but which takes into account the interests of our planet and all its inhabitants. Moreover, I have explained how anyone can make a difference to the viability of the planet, simply by using their fork and knife!
Replacing animal products with plant-based products is the biggest step we can take towards reducing our ecological footprint, as was concluded in the Oxford University’s most recent study. Even the United Nations' leading climate panel (IPCC) indicated in August that we need to drastically reform our land use and food system in order to fight climate change and deforestation. The main conclusion, in short, is that the world needs trees, not meat!
My lecture was introduced by Bebiana Cunha, council member for our Portuguese sister party PAN and a candidate in the upcoming parliamentary elections in Portugal in October. It was good to hear how PAN is turning the tide in Portugal and how the party is expecting another growth in the number of seats in October. We have our fingers crossed!
In the Netherlands, we are doing everything in our power to protect nature and trees and to end extensive livestock farming. We seem to have reached a major step towards the end of the livestock industry: one of the Netherlands’ governing parties is now advocating a 50% reduction in the livestock population. In our role as a driving force, we are obviously going to make sure that the government will take serious action! Last week it became clear once again that this is a matter of absolute urgency: the court has ruled that the Dutch government needs to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 25% next year. However, at the moment, the government is not doing enough.
Late last month, the Dutch province Gelderland and the Dutch Forestry Commission, Staatsbosbeheer, jointly put an area of nature the size of 800 football pitches on sale - even though the Netherlands is failing to meet its international targets for nature and biodiversity as it is. Therefore, we immediately started a crowdfunding to save nature: the so-called "Woudfunding", meaning forest funding. For 5 euros per square metre, people were able to purchase a piece of nature. In two weeks’ time, the "Woudfunding" raised 185,000 euros, an amount we will use to try and secure as many areas of nature as we can, in which biodiversity will have plenty of opportunity to develop and thrive.
Until next time!