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You are here: Home / Resources / publications / annual report / archive / 2003 / network

network

network development

One of Friends of the Earth International’s greatest achievements of the year was the successful handling of internal conflict and our resulting increased ability to manage the organization’s growing diversity. Since its founding, Friends of the Earth International has been defined by diversity, as a network that has grown from a handful of groups 30 years ago to the current 68 from all over the world.

Managing this breadth and depth of diversity has been overwhelming at times, especially as the number of opinions and norms increases with the number of groups. But to allow our dialogues to fall into fractured, unproductive dissent is to fail at our very purpose: finding ways for people around the world to discuss and take action towards environmentally sustainable and socially equitable societies. That is why we consider the process of decision-making as important as the decision itself.

Within Friends of the Earth International, policy decisions are reached largely by consensus. To this end, we apply the principles of broad-based democracy, transparency, and accountability to all that we do. More specifically, in 2003, the network experimented with three new and innovative ways to communicate across cultural and political divides:

  1. The "insite" communication system, which is our newly-developed Internet discussion forum that allows people to view comments on documents or ongoing discussions in one central place.
  2. Open space dialogue, a new discussion technique used successfully at our Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) in September. Open space eschews a set agenda for a completely open one, encouraging the maximum participation of all member groups in setting the agenda and coming up with solutions to complex issues.
  3. The inner/outer circle, also used at the EGM, which uses a delegate system to make debating and decision-making about issues among 68 member groups more manageable.

By all accounts, these methods have greatly enhanced the way we manage the great diversity that characterizes the Friends of the Earth International network.


Friends of the Earth International Extraordinary General Meeting in Cartagena, September 2003.

human and environmental rights

Prior to the Extraordinary General Meeting in September, CENSAT/Friends of the Earth Colombia and Friends of the Earth International organized a successful meeting with some 300 participants from around the world on Human and Environmental Rights. The aim of this conference was to share experiences with human rights groups and learn from experts in order to develop a global strategy on human and environmental rights for the network. We heard about the human rights violations suffered by indigenous people and environmental activists around the world, and discussed strategies to protect rights, and the meaning of taking a rights-based approach in our international campaigning. These discussions were followed up at the subsequent Extraordinary General Meeting, and groups committed to developing specific solidarity actions and to seeking out legal mechanisms that can be used at the national, regional and international levels.

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