Friends of the Earth is an international network of environmental organizations in 70 countries. It is structured as a confederation, each member organization being autonomous. In turn the national groups are composed of grassroots local groups working in their own areas.
The groups which make up Friends of the Earth conduct their own campaigns and coordinate their activities through the umbrella body Friends of the Earth International (FOEI).
Friends of the Earth considers environmental issues in their social, political and human rights contexts. Their campaigns stretch beyond the traditional arena of the conservation movement and seek to address the economic and development aspects of sustainability. Originally based largely in North America and Europe, its membership is now heavily weighted toward groups in the developing world.
The current campaign priorities of Friends of the Earth internationally are:
- climate change
- corporates and Corporate Accountability
- Public Finance which addresses international financial institutions, such as the IMF, the World Bank, and export credit agencies.
- trade and its impacts on environment and sustainability
The campaign priorities are set at the bi-annual general meeting of Friends of the Earth International.
In addition to the priority campaign areas Friends of the Earth International has a number of other campaign areas which are active internationally, they include:
All FoE International campaigns incorporate elements of three core themes which are:
- protecting human & environmental rights
- protecting the planet's disappearing biodiversity
- the repayment of ecological debt owed by rich countries to those they have exploited.
Friends of the Earth groupsEdit
The Friends of the Earth organizations in each country are themselves many-tiered networks reaching from grassroots activists up to the national pressure group which campaigns for environmentally progressive and sustainable policies. The groups and activists at all levels also carry out educational and research activities.
Friends of the Earth groups are required to act independently of party political, religious or other influences; be open, democratic and non-discrimatory in their internal structures; and be willing to cooperate with other organizations who are working for the same goals. These are conditions of remaining a member of FOEI.
The national groups work on the main issues affecting their own country and choose to participate in the international campaigns of FOEI which are relevant to them. In turn, the local (grassroots) campaigners can work on local, national and/or international campaigns.
Structure of the networkEdit
The member organization in a particular country may name itself Friends of the Earth or an equivalent translated phrase in the national language, e.g., Friends of the Earth (US), Friends of the Earth (EWNI) (England Wales and Northern Ireland), Amigos de la Tierra Argentina. However, roughly half of the member groups work under their own names, sometimes reflecting an independent origin and subsequent accession to the network, such as ERA (FOE Nigeria) and WALHI (FOE Indonesia).
Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) is supported by a secretariat based in Amsterdam, and an executive committee known as ExCom.< The ExCom is elected by all member groups at a general meeting held every two years, and it is the ExCom which employs the secretariat. At the same general meeting, overall policies and priority activities are agreed.
In addition to work which is coordinated at the FoEI level, national member groups are free to carry out their own campaigns and to work bi- or multi-laterally as they see fit, as long as this does not go against agreed policy at the international level.
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