Friends of the Earth Flanders & Brussels (known as Voor Moeder Aarde before we joined the Friends of the Earth International federation in 2004) has been campaigning for environmental and social justice since 1991. Over the past years, we have worked on issues including nuclear power and nuclear disarmament, climate change, and support for indigenous peoples. We played a very active role in the Big Ask campaign, including the production of the “Act Now” film clip which brought together 6,000 people. In the past, our activities on disarmament have led to Belgium becoming the first country to adopt a law banning Depleted Uranium weapons, and a parliamentary resolution for the removal of nuclear weapons from Belgium.
We use a range of tactics including nonviolent direct action, advocacy, communications, popular education, and information-events to reach our goals. We work with a wide range of other social and environmental organisations and movements, including “Climaxi” – the movement for climate and social justice.
We are currently working on a number of local issues, although always with an international dimension:
- Friends of the Earth is leading the campaign in Belgium against the plans to develop unconventional gas in the province of Limburg. The “Stop Steenkoolgas” campaign brings together people at the local and regional level to oppose the impacts of unconventional fossil fuels, which include increased greenhouse gas emissions, pollution of local water supplies, and impacts on the local economy. As a response to the threat of unconventional gas development, we are calling for the development of renewable energy in the hands of local communities.
- Friends of the Earth is also one of many groups involved in the campaign to protect the “Ferraris bos”, an area of woodland that is rich in biodiversity. The woodland is threatened as it happens to fall in the wrong planning zone, and the campaign is also a way to highlight the plight of “wrongly zoned” forests across Flanders, and the threats posed by forest offsetting in Flanders and internationally.
We are currently working entirely with volunteers, and do not receive structural subsidies from the government. As well as our team of volunteers from Flanders, we are happy to host a number of European Voluntary Service volunteers from around Europe in our office in Ghent.