Stephen Eades – Now is the time for real change – Jul 14

I have been an environmental campaigner for around 35 years, and we formed Marinet in 2002. In both periods of time I have always acted from a sense of loyalty to the movement and to my understanding of its mission. However, things are now changing.

They are changing because I believe the environmental movement, as expressed by the majority of its NGOs, has lost its sense of mission; and, because Marinet’s parent organisation effectively suppressed our mission rather than promoted it. Hence the decision of Marinet’s membership to reconstitute as an independent, membership-based, not-for-profit limited company.

In the blogs which lie ahead I want to talk about these things. I want to examine what is going on and, where possible, to search out the way forward so that we not only rediscover this sense of mission, but also rediscover a sense of success and change for the better. These are rare events at the present time.

At the same time, I am very conscious that a critique can easily become too critical. That is to say, the criticism can become one-sided and lose its sense of balance, and indulge in unjustified self-exoneration. So let me say from the outset, whatever criticism I may advance, I address as much to myself as I do to others. I have been a part of the movement for 35 years and I have accepted the prevailing reality as much as anyone else.

Only the time has now come to open a dialogue. The time has come to ask questions, and to throw out challenges. The time has come to recognise that success — real change — is eluding us. Therefore we need to begin an interrogative process, and ask the question why?

Perhaps the first question, and the purpose of this first blog, is to ask the question why Marinet and its membership has felt it necessary to become independent of its parent — especially when the parent organisation is so much bigger and well-resourced, so much better connected to those in power, and so much better known to the public at large. Why should we want to surrender all these things?

I cannot speak for each and every member but, from my own perspective, our parent has provided us with virtually none of these larger things. It provided us with virtually nothing from its well-endowed resources, both in terms of expertise and finance. It left us isolated, ignored and operating in a limbo within the organisation. It provided us with no ways into the processes of government, and never attempted to explain or promote our purpose to the public at large.

For 12 years we laboured under the belief that this reality “could not be true”, and that someday it would change. We were, after all, commissioned to represent them in an area of the environment which, by open admission, they had never seriously engaged (amazing really, when two-thirds of the world is sea rather than land on this Ocean planet, and the biodiversitybiodiversity Biological diversity in an environment as indicated by numbers of different species of plants and animals. and ecological essence of the planet — its sense of Gaia — resides fundamentally in the oceans). And so, after years of neglect, we have eventually come to the conclusion that our parent did not really care. Only we do care, and so we have elected to represent ourselves. We are re-born, and we mean to seek change.

As to why our parent was and has become so neglectful, an answer will have to wait for future blogs. Suffice to say now, the environmental movement does have a sense of mission, it does believe in change, it can deliver change, and it must deliver change. Our survival, and human prosperity, depends on this.

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