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Day 1 – Tools Conference Write-up

June 2018 by Emma Charlotte Richards

From the 30th May – 2nd June 2018, our Project Coordinator attended the Patagonia Tools for Grassroots Activists Conference in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We were invited to attend at one of Patagonia’s 1% for the Planet NGO grantees.

Day 1
Arrival and Blue Heart Screening

The screening of Blue Heart on the first night in camp was a real eye-opener and brilliantly exhibited why Una National Park was the venue to 2018’s Tools conference. What I previously understood about hydropower was shown to be vastly divergent from the truth, the environmental and social effects of the dams aren’t being considered by the construction companies and banks, which are funding and building these river-altering projects against the wishes of those who live there. Considering that many of the dams proposed (over 3000 in the Balkans alone) will generate less than 10MW, it’s clear that the proposed developments are purely money-making schemes for the developers, and need to be stopped to preserve the communities and wilderness of the region. It is very clear that, when it comes to hydropower dams, for the vast majority for the public, we have been sold a lie and must stop supporting these schemes.

You can find out more about the Blue Heart campaign and sign the petition here – www.patagonia.com/blueheart

I also learnt that GM crops aren’t all they’re made out to be. I had previously been under the illusion that they provide food security for those living in harsh environments and developing nations – once again I was proved wrong. In speaking with Liz from GM Freeze the full impact of GM crops was laid bare to me – GM reduces biodiversity by driving monoculture farming, encourages the use of pesticides, and prevents farmers and communities from having food security as they are tied into seed-buying contracts for crops that aren’t self-sustaining.

You can find out more about GM Freeze here – www.gmfreeze.org/

One of the most rewarding things about the conference was the opportunity to meet and talk to individuals from across Europe, working on different campaigns, using different techniques and strategies – these discussions pushed the boundaries of what I knew (or what I thought I knew), and I really enjoyed having my preconceptions challenged by a group with immense knowledgeable on their chosen cause.

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