Networking of Greens on the local level
In the cities, we are facing most of the challenges for Green politics: the struggle for a clean environment and against pollution, for social justice and integration, for sustainable traffic models, for local democracy… Being active on this level is very important, because the vast majority of European citizens is living in cities and urban areas. In nearly all European countries, the Green strongholds in elections are the capitals and University cities.
In 1996, the Viennese Greens took the initiative to organize a gathering of European Green local councilors in the Town Hall of Vienna. Since then, large meetings with 200-300 participants followed in Vienna (2003), Barcelona (2006), Stuttgart (2009) and Berlin (2011). After a break of some years, a “Green Cities” conference took place in September 2015 in Helsinki. Since then, smaller meetings focus on topical issues, like the challenges of the refugee crisis for the cities – in June 2016 in Munich – and Green Mobility for healthy cities – in October 2016 in Rome.
Beyond this, several smaller initiatives have been taken to bring together Green local councilors: The so-called „Greens in Big Cities“ meetings take place since 2001 and have since then been organized in Berlin (2005), Amsterdam (2006), Vienna (2007), Istanbul (2009), Budapest (2010), Thessaloniki (2012) and again Berlin (2013) – prepared mainly by the Greens in the hosting cities in cooperation with Green Foundations and covering issues like urban culture, traffic, drug policy, urban planning, budgeting, health and environment, anti-corruption stategies, multicultural heritage and inclusion, public participation, etc.
In Vienna, we started to organize „Central European Round Tables for Green Local Councilors“ that were held annually since 2005 and so far attended by Greens and green-minded local officeholders initially from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia, but later on also by participants from Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania and Serbia.
Party building, campaigning on the municipal level, exchange of Best Practices, the influence of EU politics on the local level, resistance against authoritarian tendencies, etc. have been some of the topics so far.
Since my election to the European Parliament in 2014, I’m including this dimension into my work on this level. Some of my ideas and visions can be found in a pamphlet of the GEF (Green European Foundation) called “Class of 2014. New Green Voices in the European Parliament” (pages 45-48).
With kind regards,