Time for Collective Action Advocacy Campaign Call for partners: Event Recap

ECOLISE  has been diligently working toward a significant moment—the European elections (6 – 9 June). Our objective is clear: to lend a powerful voice to citizen-led initiatives for a strong European Green Deal. ECOLISE is calling for partners to join the Time for Collective Action Advocacy campaign. 

The most recent public outreach happened on 26 February, in a “Members and Partners’ Hour”, kick-starting the call for campaign partners. Please read on to find a summary of ECOLISE’s call for partners below.

Being a partner is simple!

  • Read the Time for Collective Action Manifesto and support its content

  • Communicate the campaign to your networks – in whatever way you wish 

  • Join us in coining your own messages around the advocacy campaign’s core messages based on the Time for Collective Action Manifesto.  Apply here for a series of storytelling trainings and workshops (time investment: appr. 12 hours, duration: March – 8 May) by 24 March (Sunday) midnight CET to be part of the upcoming storytelling workshops.  

Convinced? Join as a campaign partner

Interested, but want to discuss more? Sign up for our open office hours

Missed the event? Watch the recording here and see the slides here

The campaign centres on alliance building, storytelling and creating deep conversations around the Manifesto. We invite campaign partners to apply to be part of a storytelling workshop series by 24 March.

At the heart of our efforts stands the Time for Collective Action manifesto, the outcome of a deliberative 2-year consultation process that involved around 900 individuals and around 140 organisations. This manifesto is the voice of collective action, of citizen-led initiatives, and it positions them towards the European Green Deal – the European Union’s political answer to the planetary crisis. The Manifesto was launched last November, in an event that took place at the premises of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) in Brussels that gathered more than 500 participants (in person and online) with the presence members of civil society organisations, Members of the European Parliament and representatives of Community-led initiatives (CLIs).

There are three key messages of the Time for Collective Action Manifesto which we are building the advocacy campaign on:

1. Support community led initiatives as laboratories for transformative social innovation: community-led initiatives can trigger societal change.

Consider energy cooperatives as a prime example: One of the most significant impacts to date when it comes to renewable energy is driven by citizen-led energy cooperatives. This forms the essence of our first core message: “We are strong, and our strength could be amplified further if not for systemic constraints.” In the case of energy cooperatives, strides have been made at the EU level, where energy communities are now legally recognized. However, there remains room for improvement – also at the national levels.

2.Support the right to have a choice to live sustainably: right now, even community-led initiatives can’t live sustainably within Europe very often, because there are systemic limits to having a sustainable life today in Europe.

Envision yourself as an eco-villager cultivating sustainable produce in your eco-friendly garden, free from pesticides. The predicament arises when a neighbouring farmer is currently spraying pesticides, and you find yourself powerless due to national and EU regulations permitting such actions. This underscores the need for continued advocacy and refinement of regulations to ensure that our strength, be it in energy cooperatives or sustainable agriculture, can truly flourish without hindrance.

3. Harnessing the power of collective action for a strong European Green Deal. This message emphasises the systemic framework conditions which community-led initiatives need to thrive: they require strong socio-ecological laws and implementation = a strong European Green Deal. Here, our message is: we need citizens to vote in favour of a potent European Green Deal, one that is not only localised rapidly, but also ambitiously aligned with international agreements such as the Paris Agreement (UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) or the Kunming-Montreal Biodiversity Framework (UN Convention on biological diversity).

Why campaign? 

This year’s European elections will set up the scene for the 5 years to come.  The European Green Deal is at a crossroads, facing challenges that are evident: the choices made by voters in the European elections will significantly impact our efforts toward strong socio-ecological sustainability.

As farmers take to the streets of Brussels we can sense the urgency, especially, advocating for fair living conditions AND strong socio-ecological rights: a stark reminder of the challenges faced by the European Green Deal.

Laurence Modrego, Policy Officer

The impending European elections will not only decide about the structure of the European Parliament, with a predicted shift towards a strong conservative majority, but also initiate a cascade of changes across EU policy-making institutions. This includes changes in the European Commission, from its President to individual Commissioners. These changes are pivotal as they shape the design of 5-year plans for policy making – a period which will be crucial, as the scope of political action is narrowing rapidly (see for example: International Energy Agency: ” The path to limiting global warming to 1.5 °C has narrowed”: (the report) warns that “a failure to sufficiently step up ambition and implementation between now and 2030 would create additional climate risks and make achieving the 1.5 °C goal dependant on the massive deployment of carbon removal technologies, which are expensive and unproven at scale.” )

Moreover, the upcoming elections face a challenging scenario: the current polls (for example by “Europe elects”/ Euractiv see here) paint a concerning picture, indicating a potential rise in radical right parties within the European Parliament, which would weaken the European Green Deal considerably, especially when it comes to environmental laws: “The election is expected to yield more seats for populist, right-wing parties, and losses for centre-left and green parties, producing an “anti-climate policy action” coalition in the Parliament, according to a study commissioned by the European Council on Foreign Relations think-tank.” (Article: “Opinion polls signal EU election result could hamper climate action – research” in: Reuters, Kate Abnett, Jan 2024). However, predicting European elections is notoriously tricky; the outcomes remain uncertain with numerous unpredictable events on the horizon.

Despite the apparent surge in support for radical right ideologies, there’s a contrasting demand among citizens for increased climate action. A Eurobarometer survey  by the European Commission reveals that 67% of  Europeans are calling for more efforts towards tackling climate change. This signals a clear mandate from the people, and it highlights the significant work that lies ahead.

 

Source: Eurobarometer survey by the European Commission, 23 July 2023: “Majority of Europeans consider that the green transition should go faster”, Link: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_23_3934 

A substantial portion, if not the entirety, of the Green Deal has transitioned into law. Thus, our imperative is to safeguard the achieved milestones and advocate for their effective implementation. We need to safeguard the achievements that are there and and especially push for their proper implementation, because that’s often the weak point where we have these very ambitious, overarching goals: when it actually comes down to national level implementation, it kind of becomes watered down. Thus, our mission pivots on reinforcing the achievements and pressing for their robust execution. 

Matthew Bach, ICLEI Europe

Why collective action?

Turning back the clock five years to the inaugural day of the Von der Leyen Commission in 2019, a mere 10 days into their position the European commission already introduced the European Green Deal. This rapid response was driven by a sense of urgency, which was admittedly fuelled by the Fridays for Future movement. Thus, the Green Deal’s swift inception highlights the power of collective action, as evidenced by the impact of the millions who took to the streets in the Fridays for Future demonstrations, ultimately influencing the direction of climate action.

We’re at the last chance to tackle climate change and create a sustainable, liveable planet. The big question is: How do we make it happen? Collective action holds immense potential to significantly impact these plans. Quite often we tend to lose hope in our possibility to change something. but we do have the possibility to do that together.

ECOLISE’s campaign extends beyond the realm of the European elections; it is a call to unite for collective action, for empowering citizens and communities as agents of change. 

Goals of the campaign 

A. Colibri Approach

Just like in permaculture design, this campaign aims to have a systemic strategy, inspired by the French Colibri movement approach as well as by the IPCC: every contribution counts, every bit of avoided warming matters. The Colibri movement takes its name from a colibri – or humming bird – and according to a legend it is bringing a drop of water to a burning forest, which might look futile – but what if we all did this? The humming bird symbolises our contribution with this campaign – expecting a larger, impactful movement from a small drop of action. Beyond the immediate objective of influencing political decisions, our campaign serves to raise awareness, mobilise communities, and foster capacity building. We are not only targeting the votes but also engaging in a multifaceted endeavour that aims at a shift in consciousness through storytelling, campaigning, and political action.

Most importantly, ECOLISE wants to build a strong alliance among those who recognise the pivotal role citizens play as agents of change and believe in the transformative power of communities. 

The ECOLISE way of advocacy

B. Theory of Change

The underlying theory of change of the Time for Collective Action Campaign is inspired by systems thinking as expressed in the work of  Donella Meadows (principal author of “The Limits to Growth” 1972). This theory of change emphasises the imperative for both systemic and social change. Academic institutions such as DRIFT (NL) put forward the crucial role that citizen-led initiatives can play in triggering the transformative social change, pointing to examples from the transition network, permaculture practitioners, e.g. eco-villages (e.g Global Ecovillage Network Europe), energy cooperatives  (e.g. REscoop) and many more.  The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)  emphasises the imperative for a comprehensive societal approach—a stance aligned with the overarching principles of the European Green Deal – in their 2022 report (see visual below).

Source: IPCC press release: April 4, 2022: “The evidence is clear: the time for action is now. We can halve emissions by 2030″, link: https://www.ipcc.ch/2022/04/04/ipcc-ar6-wgiii-pressrelease/

Yet, when we talk about citizens and communities as agents of change, it is crucial to clarify that this isn’t a proposition implying a burden on individuals or community-led initiatives to single-handedly mend the global landscape of climate change. Instead, it echoes the IPCC’s and the Manifesto’s call for systemic change: both underscore the need for an enabling framework that facilitates shifts in behaviour, lifestyles, and broader social transformations: The right to have a choice to live sustainably. 

Target groups of the campaign

Our campaign addresses a diverse spectrum of individuals and groups, uniting citizens and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) with those deeply involved in strong sustainability practices, permaculture, eco-villages, transition networks, and community-led initiatives  – such as ECOLISE members. Also, we extend our outreach to activists currently immersed in resistance movements, including but not limited to Fridays for Future, urging them to recognize the pivotal role of political action in effecting change.

Our focus extends beyond specific demographics: we target youth, vulnerable citizens, and communities, recognizing their significance in shaping a more inclusive and resilient future. And, of course, we are calling out to policy makers, who remain a consistent and central target group throughout the campaign. Our overarching goal is to influence these decision-makers, advocating for a robust and ambitious European Green Deal.

Target groups of the campaign

How to: Campaign mechanisms

Ecolise’s advocacy campaign operates within a collaborative framework, inviting participants to join a larger alliance and  to trigger conversations around the “Time for Collective Action Manifesto“. Campaign partners are encouraged to engage in this discourse, , and to coin their own messages around the Manifesto. To do so, ECOLISE offers support in storytelling principles and techniques, but also in coining personalised messages (see below for more). The best possible outcome of the campaign? A ripple effect created by sharing localised and personalised messages grounded in the manifesto’s principles – just before the European elections ( 6 – 9 June), which is when most voters decide (who) to vote (for). 

Why storytelling?

Storytelling possesses a transformative power that goes beyond mere awareness creation; it can create social change. This becomes especially crucial in the realm of social and environmental issues, where narratives act as catalysts for empathy, potentially prompting meaningful action.

In the context of organising and fostering social change, storytelling plays a pivotal role. Stories possess the unique capability to unite people, extending beyond the dissemination of information to create empathy. It is this empathy that serves as a catalyst for significant action. Through the sharing of narratives, organisations can inspire individuals to engage in politics, propelling collective efforts towards positive and impactful change.

 

Partnership concept – what’s in it for Campaign Partners? 

Storytelling training:  a voluntary opportunity tailored for a select group of campaign partners eager to explore deeper dimensions. The training aims to empower partners to form narratives around the Time for Collective Action Manifesto, by translating its core messages into relatable and actionable stories that resonate with individuals in their roles as citizens and agents of change. Timeframe: 12 April (tbd) 

Microsite: an online platform where individuals, including all members of your organisation as campaign partners, will be able to individually sign up as campaign partners. This microsite is designed for easy sharing and will consolidate all the pertinent information around the Advocacy Campaign. Our intention is to create a user-friendly space that streamlines the process of gathering signatures while reinforcing our message not only leading up to the European elections but also in the post-election phase. This sustained effort aims to maintain pressure on policymakers.

Communications toolkit: create the content that you need, and that is more aligned with your organisation, and that is something that we will be supporting you as well as harvesting and collecting all the stories and images and content that you will be sharing as part of as campaign partners.

Manifesto in different languages: the Manifesto is being translated into 12 languages. 

Join us as campaign partners!

Join us as campaign partners, amplifying our collective voice for a sustainable future. Whether you’re passionate about energy cooperatives, sustainable agriculture, or the broader goals of a potent European Green Deal, your unique perspective is invaluable. Let’s forge a powerful alliance where individuals become agents of change, and communities drive transformative actions.

Reminder: Being a partner is simple!

  • Read the Time for Collective Action Manifesto and support its content

  • Communicate the campaign to your networks – in whatever way you wish 

  • Join us in coining your own messages around the advocacy campaign’s core messages based on the Time for Collective Action Manifesto  Apply here for a series of storytelling trainings and workshops (time investment: appr. 12 hours, duration: March – 8 May) by 24 March (Sunday) midnight CET to be part of the upcoming storytelling workshops.  

Convinced? Join as a campaign partner

Interested, but want to discuss more? Sign up for our open office hours

Missed the event? Watch the recording here and see the slides here

Campaign partners

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