Lifting obstacles to international solidarity and successful international conferences
Open Letter to the Belgian Authorities
For the third time in a row, an international alternative gas conference will be organized in Brussels. This conference aims at connecting grassroots groups, academics and organizations across the globe to better work together towards a world without fossil fuels.
Sadly, both during the preparation of the first and the second conference, participants from the Global South, particularly from Africa, faced inappropriate, incomprehensible barriers connected to their visas. As a result, many of them could not attend.
We see it as a serious issue that increasingly strict European migration policies prevent a balanced participation in international conferences. These international meetings play an important role in shaping the pathway Europe needs to take, within a global context, to lead us into a carbon-free future.
It is clear that an inclusive, broad dialogue between representatives of the Global North and Global South is absolutely central in taking meaningful steps towards sustainability and climate justice. Preventing, in an unforeseeable and unfair way, the access to these debating spaces directly undermines the global work that is being done to create a clean, fair and just future.
Our series of alternative gas conferences aims at tackling a global problem – the role that fossil gas plays in creating climate change. The Global North contributes to a disproportionately large extent to a changing global climate, while on the other hand communities in the Global South suffer most from its effects. It is therefore imperative to involve particularly those most affected by decisions taken in Europe in a process to find solutions to the issues around gas, respecting human rights, the Paris Climate Agreement and strengthening democracies.
Already the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU states that the contribution of “promoting measures at international level to deal with regional or worldwide environmental problems, and in particular combating climate change” shall be objective of Union policy.
Creating, and not blocking spaces like international alternative gas conferences to work towards this aim has to be a priority for EU Member States.
We cannot work on global issues unilaterally; these discussions have to happen with representatives from non-EU countries and we therefore urgently ask you to take measures to avoid unfair practices leading to de facto travel bans from certain countries.
Blatant inequalities concerning freedom of movement and a resulting privilege to travel for citizens of certain countries block attempts to work together in a balanced way and contributes to silencing the voices of those most affected by climate change.
The travel/visa issues that participants of our conferences faced are clearly not an isolated issue, and action needs to be taken on a broad level to end this injustice.
Agro-Ecologie et Environnement Vert (Tunisia), Mohsen Kalboussi
Social Action (Nigeria), Vivian Bellonwu
Food and Water Europe (Belgium), Frida Kieninger
Gastivists Collective (International), Noelie Audi-Dor
Counter Balance (Czech Republic), Xavier Sol
Corporate Europe Observatory (Belgium), Pascoe Sabido
Amigos de la Tierra (Spain), Héctor de Prado
Ecologistas en Acción (Spain), Samuel Martín-Sosa
Attac France, Maxime Combes
Les Amis de la Terre Togo, ASSEM Ekue
Friends of the Earth Europe (International), Antoine Simon
En Commun (France), Philippe Assens
Les Amis de la Terre France, Lorette Philippot
NOAH Friends of the Earth Denmark, Nanna Clifforth
KlimaKollektivet (Denmark), Tannie Nyboe
Gastivists Berlin (Berlin), Lea Dehning
Africa Institute for Energy Governance (Uganda) Dickens Kamugisha
Re:Common (Italy), Elena Gerebizza
Biofuelwatch (UK), Frances Howe
Integrating capacity and community advancement organisation (Tanzania), Zahra Salehe
Citizens’ Concern Africa (Uganda) Sam Mucunguzi
Frack Free United (UK), Leigh Coghill
Justiça Ambiental (Friends of the Earth Mozambique), Anabela Lemos
Observatori del Deute en la Globalització (Spain), Josep Nualart Corpas
Attac Maroc (Lucile Daumas)
Milieudefensie (Friends of the Earth Nederland)
UK Youth Climate Coalition (UK), Mark Robinson
Platform (UK), Anna Markova
Love Leitrim (Ireland)
Young Friends of the Earth Europe, (Belgium), Živilė Mantrimaitė
Oil Change International (United States), Collin Rees
PowerShift e.V. (Germany), Michael Reckordt
BankTrack (Netherlands), Claire Hamlett