Friends of the Earth Netherlands (Milieudefensie) is a national organization with 80 local groups. Founded in 1971, it has around 80,000 members and contributors. JongerenMilieuAktief (JMA), the independent youth department, has several thousand partners.
The Netherlands is a densely populated and built up country, which largely defines the scope of Milieudefensie's campaigns. Quietness, space and fresh air have become scarce. The sky over the Netherlands is among the most polluted in the world. That is why Milieudefensie is campaigning against the construction of yet more roads, for cleaner cars and better public transport.
Intensive agriculture is notorious for its pollution and animal unfriendly production methods. It makes heavy demands on the environment in other parts of the world; parts of the Amazon forest are destroyed to produce cattle feed for the Netherlands. Milieudefensie is calling for a switch to ecologically sound and animal-friendly agriculture.
The Netherlands should take the lead in the battle against climate change as it is a rich country with about 50% of its land at or below sea level. Milieudefensie is actively persuading large banks to make more climate friendly investments.
But Milieudefensie's remit does not stop at the border; it has a long history of campaigning for the conservation of tropical and virgin forests. It has been successful in actions against Dutch companies that do not protect the environment in other countries. Shell is one of those companies. As the biggest foreign oil company in Nigeria it bears a heavy responsibility for oil spills in the Niger Delta. These oil spills are five times bigger than the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. Shell denies all responsibility. That is why Milieudefensie and four local farmers and fisherman asked the Dutch court to intervene and order Shell to clean up and compensate the victims.
Measures that have no public support hardly stand a chance. Milieudefensie's members are involved in the decision making process, and campaigns are undertaken where there is popular support.
Read more about the international work of FoE Netherlands