June 2012 marked the 20th anniversary of the historic United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro. In the run-up to the Rio+20 Summit, we conducted in-depth monitoring of international preparations for the summit, and we organized a wide variety of activities in Rio and other cities focusing on the theme “Green Economy”. Our pro-active involvement reinforced the Foundation’s reputation as a knowledgeable, internationally engaged actor in the field of environmental and socially equitable sustainability.
We pursue an international focus on energy policy as well: Our website energytransition.de features comprehensive information on Germany’s transformation of its national energy system – a policy known as the Energiewende – because Germany’s efforts are laying the groundwork that can make Europe a trailblazer in the areas of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. Our work showcases the benefits that can be achieved through a European energy network and a common European energy policy.
Another issue that is keeping us busy is the euro crisis, which is far from being fully resolved. Overcoming the euro crisis requires national efforts combined with European solidarity. This means that individual countries will have to implement reforms targeted toward both the long-term consolidation of the financial sector as well as sustainable economic growth. The Heinrich Böll Foundation advocates a European “Green New Deal” that can open up new prospects for the younger generation in particular.
In certain countries around the world, we are currently witnessing a wave of legal and administrative measures that restrict the freedom of action of both domestic NGOs and international organizations. For example, the Ethiopian government has required organizations to re-register under the country’s NGO laws, a situation which made it impossible for us to fulfill our mission of working jointly with local partners to foster democracy, gender justice, and sustainable development. As a result, the Foundation decided to withdraw its presence from Ethiopia. In Egypt, political developments and an unclear legal framework leave us without a solid basis for working there. Our cooperation with Egyptian partners is therefore being coordinated from our new office in Tunis.
Much of the Foundation’s success in recent years is owed to the efforts of Dr. Birgit Laubach, who departed from her position as CEO on 1 April 2013. Her tremendous skills helped the Foundation achieve numerous key objectives, including the construction of our new central offices, which continue to serve as a model for other organizations thanks to their first-rate design, high level of energy efficiency, and responsible use of public construction funds.
As always, we would like to express our gratitude for the work of our highly motivated staff and colleagues, who form the backbone of the Foundation’s activities. We also receive essential and extensive voluntary support from our supervisory board, membership meeting, women’s council, expert advisory boards, expert commissions, and the Green Academy. We deeply appreciate your trust and cooperation, which serve to strengthen us, both now and in the future.
Berlin, April 2013
Ralf Fücks and Barbara Unmüßig
Presidents, Heinrich Böll Foundation