Dear friends, it's nice to be here again in a Global Green conference. I think my first conference was in Canberra. Thanks, Margaret and others, for organising all this work and this conference. I was in Sao Paulo, unfortunately not in Dakar, this is my third Green conference.
Yesterday I was walking some streets here in Liverpool like Penny Lane and looking at the house of George Harrison and Art College of John Lennon. I was starting to think how good ideas can spread like the Beatles ideas. Maybe the Green ideas are also starting to spread from Liverpool all over the world.
Like Mar Garcia, I also want to express my solidarity and thoughts to all those who are not present in this hall today. Some people may be harassed or detained or some have lost their lives because they have been Green or environmental activists. I had the opportunity to follow the Berta Caceres court case last spring in Tegucigalpa, sitting there with the family members and friends. The villagers who are still fighting for the environment, who are not taken aback by all this pressure by the government and authorities against environmental activists. We really need to think and have full support for these people. Our thoughts are with those who could not arrive here today because of the stupid visa regulations. We know that Green ideas cannot be prevented by wars or by borders. These are now spreading all over the world.
In Finland, we had our first city council members elected in 1980 in several Finnish cities and our first members of Parliament in 1983. At that time it was a surprise that the Greens as a movement could get parliamentary seats.
We had our first ever gentleman in a wheelchair elected as a politician to serve in the Finnish Parliament. We have been continuing our success in Parliament. We have 15 seats out of 200. We have Green ministers in four different governments, we not only have a Green minister of the environment, a Green minister of justice, of labour and international development and state ownership and Green chancellor of justice. This has been our part.
We also took part in the last presidential elections in Finland. We got 37% of the vote. It was maybe the best result.
I happened to be the candidate at that time. At some as you know, I am in a same-sex partnership/marriage with an Ecuadorian. My partner is Antonio from Ecuador. You know how campaigning is – you go to the small locations, places where people have never seen anyone from Ecuador or anyone in a same-sex couple and so forth, and we went to the pubs where some of the local skinheads were sitting, unemployed youth and with tattoos and things like that. The pub keeper said, "Come here and make a program for these people." I took the microphone and explained the presidential elections were coming. They were looking at us suspiciously and not moving. I said Antonio, "Could you say something to these people?" He speaks fluent Finnish nowadays. He starts to explain how it is to be a foreigner in Finland, study, work and suddenly something changed. People were saying, "Antonio, you are a good guy. You are working."
Somehow you are thinking you would meet the most xenophobic or racist people in the country. Suddenly you were good friends. This is what campaigning is all about.
As Greens, we have to meet those people who are not yet Greens and explain our values and thoughts, why we are doing the things we are doing.
In our Finnish Greens program, we have had the right agenda – not just environmental, but social justice has been there, the feminist movement, the handicapped people, sexual minorities, ethnic minorities, even Finnish indigenous people, the Sami people from Lapland and so forth. We have been a believer in technological development, saying that energy-saving needs more science, more technology, we are in favour of clean technologies, looking for new technical solutions to save the world. We are also linking with entrepreneurs, small and medium business communities, and I think there is nothing we could criticised for regarding entrepreneurship. This separates us from the leftist parties. As many Green parties, we are also in favour of the peace movement. We have many pacifists, activists and so on. We have a realistic policy on defence and security, being a small country next to a big neighbour.
We have in our ranks peacekeepers, people from the military, from the police forces, and people very active in civil and crisis management. I think security and defence is something in which the Greens have to get involved.
Green economics is a core issue in our policies, but at the same time, creating jobs and a basic income for people in the new type of economy has been one of our goals.
I think today we are living in a challenging time. We are looking at crises all over the world. We are looking at sad human suffering in places like Syria, Iraq, Liberia, South Sudan, Yemen. We are witnessing harassment in Ukraine, the Crimea, we are following the hate speech that is spreading around, we are facing alternative truths, the U.K.'s leaving of the European Union, following President Trump's policies against the world Muslim community, and his policy to undermine environmental agreements such as the climate agreement. We are coming into more uncertain times in this world.
But at the same time, there is some positive news. In 2015, when the agenda 2030 was adopted in the UN about sustainable development, the coming 15 years, it has climate in it, protection of biodiversity, good governance in it, 2030 is also our Green agenda.
But for us as Global Greens it is now time to speak out. There is an alternative to hate speech, to discrimination and marginalisation, to fossil fuels, to climate change, to military spending, to wars, to conflicts and increased military budgets. This alternative is Green.