Between 31st May and 2nd June we represented abitbetter.eu at the Green Civilian National Meeting (Zöld Civil Országos Találkozó). You can read our accounts of the event below. Written by Noémi Szabó.
ZöldCivil.hu and the National Meeting
Zöldcivil.hu is the common website of cooperating nature conservation and environmental civil society organizations. This cooperation colligates hundreds of organizations and private individuals. Anyone is welcome to join the website or their facebook page. Registered organizations can publish news, upload brochures and events. Private individuals can write blogs and comment on others’ entries.
Green Civil Society Organizations arrange a National Meeting every year. The goal of the meeting is to allow people and organizations with similar interests to come together and learn, and get to know each other.
In previous years, there was always a lead organizer who conducted events and provided accommodation and venues, and furthermore, organized plenary sessions, section meetings, and trips. The National Meeting (NM) was held 28 times already at various locations countrywide. It always spans multiple days, and offers diverse programs, relevant for professionals and laymen alike.
Green NM in 2019
In 2019, it was held in Budapest between 31st May and 2nd June. This year, there was no lead organizer, so attendees had to arrange accommodation, meals, and trips for themselves (although we got lunch on Saturday). In exchange, the event was free of charge.
Lots of organizers applied and wanted to take part in this awesome meeting: Greenpeace Hungary Association, Nimfea Nature Conservation Association, Hungarian Society for Environmental Education, Tudatos Vásárlók Egyesülete (Conscious Buyers Association), HUMUSZ, BOCS Foundation, the Eco-Congregation Workshop of Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church and Society Research Insitute, MTVSZ, MME, Fenntarthatóság Felé Egyesület (Towards Sustainability Association), Védegylet, Ökotárs, Energiaklub, HAND and WWF.
On Friday, section meetings were held at eight different locations in the City: Greenpeace, HUMUSZ, Károli, MTVSZ, Ökotárs, Védegylet, Urban Food venues, and WWF. The day was divided into three, participants could choose from one morning and two afternoon sessions. The detailed schedule can be found in the speech bubbles.
10:30 – 12:00:
– The Youth in Climate Protection
– Members and Supporters: How to Strengthen the Membership Base of Green Civil Organizations
– From Free Trade Agreements To Solidarity Economy
– Country of Gentle Water 2.0: How to Solve the Conflict between the Retention of Agricultural and Surface Waters?
13:00 – 14:30:
– How Much Can Biodegradable Plastics Be Considered Environmentally Friendly Alternatives?
– Creation Protection I. The Green Conservation Movement and the Churches for a Common Goal
– Local Conservation Areas
– Urban Green Spaces
– Agroecology, Food Self-Determination
– Csarna Valley And Other Continuous Cover Forests – At the Frontlines of Social Advocacy for More Sustainable Forest Management
15:30 – 17:00:
– National Environmental Education Strategy Guidelines
– Population Non-Growth
– Creation Protection II. The Green Conservation Movement and the Churches for A Common Goal
– Planned Obsolescence
– Energy Section: Where Are the Greens and What Do They Need?
And on Friday evening, there was a community program at HUMUSZ Alliance’s office and in its garden.
Plenary sessions on Saturday were held in a single venue, at the Fonó Buda Music House, where attendees could watch the presentation Live or Survive – The Successes and Failures of Sustainable Development Goals, organized by MTVSZ. There were two presentations in the afternoon: Novel Nature Conservation – Innovative Projects for Natural Treasures (as well), and Youth Climate Movement: Panic, Hope, Vision, by WWF and Greenpeace, respectively. Then there was voting, passing the baton, dinner, and then one more community program (dance and concert).
Events we’ve attended
No matter how much we wanted to, we couldn’t be in two places at once, so we had to choose from the excellent presentations, moreover, we had a running event on Sunday, therefore we couldn’t participate in the outdoors programs at all. But I’ll tell you what the ones we visited were like.
Sunday was the day of hiking programs. Among other things, the options were a moderately difficult hiking tour, an eco-get-together including a workshop and kettle cooking, caving, an obstacle course, and spiritual creation protection tour.
From Free Trade Agreements To Solidarity Economy
Around fifteen of us sat around a big table in Védegylet’s office, including the organizers: representatives of Védegylet, MTVSZ and HAND. After everyone – including the guests – introduced themselves, the presentation began in a friendly atmosphere. Topics included free trade negotiations and agreements between the EU and the USA, the Stop ISDS petition, the financial support of developing countries by Hungary, and the emergence of the Solidarity Economy Movement (which is a local economy network) as an alternative. And at the end we could ask our own questions.
How Much Can Biodegradable Plastics Be Considered Environmentally Friendly Alternatives?
We had a bite to eat while traveling between locations, and then we arrived at the office of the HUMUSZ Alliance, which stands in the middle of a beautiful garden. Here they work, compost, and carry out various educational programs during weekdays. Here, too, we sat in a big circle (more or less) and listened to a joint presentation by associates of Responsible Gastro-Hero, the Hungarian Waste Management Federation, and Green Belt.
The presentation’s topic was a very interesting and important one: while the name “biodegradable plastic” sounds good, reality shows that the product just fragments rather than fully degrades. It doesn’t decompose during household composting, and it can’t be recycled, either. So its growing popularity will only bring progress if we can properly manage it within the circular economy system. All in all, the conversation came to the point that preventing the production of plastic waste achieves the most (this had been the conclusion of many, many conversations). We shouldn’t consider plastic products single use, instead, we should strive for longer product lifetimes, by introducing deposit systems, for example. You can read a dedicated article about this here.
Live or Survive – The Successes and Failures of Sustainable Development Goals
Presenters invited us to travel through time, as they wanted to look back at the achievements of the UN Sustainable Development Goals from 2030. They spoke about the successes and failures of the goals as if they were summarizing the changes made by the set deadline. The Secretary of the National Council for Sustainable Development, a professor from Szent István University, a board member of Hungarian Business Leaders Forum, the General Secretary of KÖVET Association, and co-chair of MTVSZ presented their visions one after another, then summarized these visions during a panel discussion.
UN Sustainable Development Goals:
1. no poverty;
2. no hunger;
3. good health;
4. quality education;
5. gender equality;
6. clean water and sanitation;
7. renewable energy;
8. good jobs and economic growth;
9. industry, innovation and infrastructure;
10. reduced inequalities;
11. sustainable cities and communities;
12. responsible consumption;
13. climate action;
14. life below water;
15. life on land;
16. peace and justice;
17. partnerships for the goals.
Novel Nature Conservation – Innovative Projects for Natural Treasures (as well)
Six participants discussed, and each of them presented one of their own projects. The topic was to achieve more effective participation in future developments of nature conservation, and to reach sustainable development goals. Nature conservation achieved a great deal in the last 40 years, but two problems still stand strong: low commitment from other sectors and low interest of decision makers. We’ve heard examples of innovative collaboration like the cooperation of hunters and WWF to protect big game, the joint action of MME and the National Bureau of Investigation against the poisoning of eagles, collaboration and partnerships between educational institutions of Erasmus+, youth organizations, enterprises, local and regional public institutions, and furthermore, cooperation by the Profilantrop Association for rural community development.
Two of us participated as representatives of abitbetter.eu, so both of us summarized our experiences:
The 2019 Green OT, in addition to being highly professional, well-organized and useful, drew attention to current problems, highlighted successes, and pointed out opportunities which could be capitalized on, and did all this in an interesting and attention-grabbing way. The event is also suitable for networking and relaxation. I hope I’ll be able to take part in the 2020 OT as well!
My aim with joining the OT was to get a bit of an overview on the current status of national nature conservation and environmental protection organizations and their cooperation. I’d say I succeeded, although I’m still very far from being able to state: I thoroughly understand the situation. Nevertheless it was really exciting to get to know the stakeholders a bit, and I especially enjoyed hearing the often conflicting standpoints of representatives coming from different sectors. I’m looking forward to the next one!
Translated by Ádám Hittaller