Welcome to the 4th Global Greens Congress. Welcome to the biggest Global Greens event ever, with 2000 delegates coming from over 90 countries. These are humbling times for us Europeans.
We realize very clearly today that values like tolerance, rule of law and openness are never really there forever -, even here, in the land where parliamentarian democracy was created. We are opening this congress the day after Theresa May triggered the process of exiting the EU: an event that we really never thought to have to face and which obliges all European Greens to be bold and creative.
In Europe, the thousands of deaths in the Mediterranean Sea and the growing indifference surrounding them are a thorn in everybody's conscience, and we have to deal with all the fear for the future and resentment; even among those who have a job and a house.
We hear, with dismay, the proud revendication of illiberal and ethnically homogeneous societies of walls and borders and we face a declared conservative and repressive counter-revolution that, for many, looks more attractive than the perspective of an open and free society.
There is a direct link between the slow erosion of rights and freedoms, the normalization of hate speeches and intolerance, and a fossil and polluted environment. Very often, where the fight against a pipeline, or a damaging infrastructure – a dam, an expensive highway, an oil-drilling facility, or a coal or nuclear plant – is hindered and difficult, there are issues with human rights, freedom of press, workers’ rights, respect of rule of law and of cultural and community rights.
Greens understood this link and made it the core of our political action. More than ever, our fight for the planet is a fight for the men and women who inhabit it: for their freedom; for their well-being.
European Greens feel part of a world that could change for the worse. But we also feel part of those many who carry solutions and hope. Altiero Spinelli, one of the founding fathers of the European project, whilst he was prisoner of the fascists in a small Italian island, wrote some words that are still very relevant:
“The illness that leads to totalitarianism is never one of the incurable ones, against which the body is powerless. It is an illness that kills only that body which truly wants to die, and which therefore no longer defends itself.”
The challenges facing us today are global: democracy and freedom at the national, local and supranational level; a new economic system that invents new jobs and new economic activities against climate change, scarcity of resources and social injustice. It is possible to deal with them positively and effectively. Many of us develop proposals and ideas to solve them. Many of us also face the difficulty of being not so strong and sometimes isolated. Still, we are, today, more than ever a global movement; a movement that goes beyond the Greens and that needs to be visible, noisy, effective, politically convincing, original, plural, and, above all, that needs to be quick to organize and to act.
Let us use the opportunity of this Global Greens congress to find the words, to connect the people, to invent initiatives and events that will make us all stronger and greener. Let us find words of hope and elaborate happy and cheerful ways to be together and to define Greens in action.
These are not times of doom and gloom; these are times to just think and work together.
Because we already started to change the world. Many cities and places have already taken a decisive Green turn. More and more citizens are finding it cooler to go by bike than to ride a Ferrari.
More and more activists are able to connect the dots of their fights and work for a better world in a holistic way.
And, please, after these few days, let's keep in touch, as the battle we face is long and difficult.