France: Focus on Amis de la terre
Patrick Teil, director of friends of the earth france, on the successes and the frustrations
After receiving a diploma from the School of Commerce in Lyon and doing a brief stint in business I moved into the social sector. Six years ago, I decided to direct my energies towards International Solidarity, focusing on three principal themes: disarmament, human rights and agricultural issues. At first, my professional journey was more oriented towards management; however it shifted very rapidly towards politics and public speaking. Since then, I have very consciously made the decision to dedicate my talents and skills to the support of ideals which I believe in. These ideals revolve around the need to professionalize International Solidarity associations in order to provide effective solutions.
Why Friends of the Earth and the protection of the environment?
Many reasons, but principally: Friends of the Earth represents an association which not only works to protect flora and fauna but also acts towards social issues and the solidarity of Northern and Southern countries. In addition, Friends of the Earth seeks to change the attitudes of both people and enterprises as well as to effect legislation (via strong lobby actions). Further and particularly close to my heart, is its commitment to the democratic process and citizen engagement. For me, each citizen must take responsibility for their environment…not simply pass it off to their politicians. And well, finally, I am fed up with sucking in the exhaust of car mufflers when I ride my bike!
In the national secretariat of Friends of the Earth France my general role is the coordination and organization of national responses and actions. This includes the management of campaigns, the organization of campaign teams, the coordination of the interface between these groups or actions and the leadership of applicable institutions. I also follow-up on tasks that have not been allocated to other association members and I ensure the effective definition and completion of strategies.
Certainly, some of these activities are frustrating, for example, the contradiction between our government leaders’ words and their actions and the unwillingness of French groups to translate governmental words into action. Nevertheless, I am proud to participate in these pivotal actions for the betterment of our present and futures. Thanks to quality campaigns we have obtained concrete results on many issues. For example, the 5 year European moratorium on GMOs, the requirement that GMO ingredients must be printed on product labels and the increased sensitivity to sustainable development on the part of businesses. I am proud to be in partnership with an international network which brings together the knowledge and expertise of so many organizations.