We are aware that the abuse of natural resources, driven by selfish interests and short terms profits, ruins the quality of our environment and our society. We know that climate change, if not properly mitigated, will increase inequalities making the already poor even poorer. This trend is not irrevocable. By framing and properly regulating an ecological and social transformation and by providing the necessary political and financial support, we can create the right conditions to increase the well-being of our people. We need to put the people at the centre of an economic transformation so that profits are not channelled to the few but shared with the many. We need an economy that promotes more resource efficient technologies, creating better quality employment. Instead of economies that need to grow no matter what, we need economies that “make us thrive”.
Together, we stand for:
By 2030, cities around the world will be responsible for 74% of the greenhouse gas emissions. Facing this challenge, we must not only be ambitious but also visionary. In this spirit, we must give priority to the circular economy and eco-design, foster environmental education and choose a radical and effective energy transition. Cities have always been in the forefront of change. Cities in Europe have countless of concrete solutions that will enable humanity to overcome the planetary challenges that we have already started to face. We must reinvent our cities, finding novel ways for our fellow citizens to make way for cultural, economic, social and societal innovation. In this respect, we must truly use technological innovation at the service of sustainable cities, ensuring that our European cities are the most prosperous and dynamic on earth. Their strength comes from values of tolerance and mutual respect that unite our peoples far more than our differences divided us. Tolerance equals strength! A year after President Trump announced the US exit from the Paris Climate Agreement we need to continue our collective fight with unwavering determination. We need to knock down walls and put up bridges. We need for forge truly progressive urban policies for cities where life is good. We need to continue to fight contamination, choosing clean energies and favoring electric modes of transportation, car-pooling and cycling. We need even stronger commitment towards finding the proper solutions to achieve universal shared progress for the good of the people. For this reason, we need to ensure that we can collect best practices on ecological transformation across Europe, using in-depth local and regional knowledge.
The main point is that time is running right now! Our environmental resources are shrinking rapidly and due to unreasonable actions of some politicians (cancelation of the Paris agreement for example) Europe and the European citizens have to show the world that we are still believing in a sustainable future! We have to take a leading role in the debate. The vision of the Social Democratic party is to leave a less polluted world for our next generations. Europe can achieve this goal through great energy efficiency, tackling climate change and a circular economy and not supporting economies without any restrictions. We are the generation who can implement this change. Let´s try it together.
Achieving the transformation towards a truly equitable and sustainable society will require a major flow of investments, both public and private, at both EU, national, regional, and local levels. At the same time, we need to go one-step further and precisely identify the nature of investments urgently needed in order to start the change of paradigm. We must work towards reversing the declining investment trend. We need to work on establishing positive investment lists (e.g.: social infrastructure) as well as negative list of investments (e.g.: fossil fuels, non-climate friendly production). In addition, we need to better define long-term intelligent coordination between different stakeholders and better design and manage these investments using new ways of providing for grants, blending different types of financial sources etc.
These are testing times for progressive Europeans. Moving Europe forward requires a programmatic revitalisation of Social Democracy. Sustainability should play a crucial part. This means we have to ensure the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN Agenda 2030. This move has to come from the bottom up, driven by cities and regions to ensure a high quality of life everywhere in Europe. A consistent long-term strategy (rather than short-term tactics) must be devised and it should, in my opinion, include the following: 1.) Clear measures to battle social, economic and territorial inequalities, specifically providing the most vulnerable people with opportunities to lift themselves out of poverty and social exclusion. 2.) Empower local and regional communities to achieve our strategy. Local and regional governments should be given more leeway in funding and decision-making, supported in a coordinated effort by national and European authorities. We must give the people on the ground the chance to participate in the debate and be the driving force of this social and ecological transformation. 3.) An energetic transition shifting to renewable energy sources, away from fossil and nuclear power. This must include a comprehensive jobs program in the clean energy sector, with significant investment in the building of energy infrastructure, training and social protection measures for those who are affected the most by this transition. 4.) Promote low-emission mobility by extending and improving the functionality and sustainability of affordable public transport solutions in urban and rural areas. Again, this demands investment in infrastructure like bike lanes, low-emission buses, train lines and charging stations for electrical vehicles. 5.) Build a circular economy and help build a new corporate responsibility culture. Large-scale waste reduction is both economically and ecologically viable. We must strive to build a business culture that encourages the re-use of goods and renounces single-use production patterns. Only if production patterns (such as plastic packaging) become more eco-friendly, consumption patterns can follow suit. State of the art eco-efficient recycling and waste management facilities should become the standard of European cities and municipalities, creating jobs and saving natural resources. Social Democracy has recently struggled on the European and national level. In the cities, however, we are alive and kicking. Cities like Paris, London, Berlin, Milan and Vienna are great examples for that. Let’s trust our people on the ground and help them achieve tangible results. Let’s build a truly progressive Europe from the bottom up. Then, I’m sure, European Social Democracy will pass this test of time!
The climate change, indisputably, consist one of the greatest challenges for the humanity for the years onward. However, besides the undesirable effects of the climate change, firstly to the environment and after to the well-being of the people, it is important to mention also the societal effects of this phenomenon. Nowadays, the near-term effects of climate change could have severe consequences on poor countries and already fragile regions around the world with weak governance structures and thereby to worsen the regional and local tensions in ‘hot-zones’. Specifically, the climate change could lead to multiple problems of instability like water scarcity, food shortages, conflict over resources and migration. Therefore, the ”weak” states that gonna experience these problems, could risk to transfer the increased regional tensions to Europe, that might be seem as a ”safe heaven” for these affected people. So, the EU should respond quickly to this security problem given its leading role in development and protection of the environment with the wide range of tools that has in its disposal. First, the EU should have prepare its necessary functions for the preparedness and prevention of disasters or conflict that may arise worldwide and that could affect its member states. Second, the active role of EU as a negotiator for a better and prosperous future is vital and must be continue. Therefore, the EU must promote its multilateral leadership for the enhance of the international cooperation around this serious issue through all the important forums (UN, G7 etc). The EU, as an international regulator by framing and providing the necessary support, could create the right conditions in order to solve the problems. Third, through its instruments the EU should strengthen its dialogue with third countries that belong to the most affected by the climate change and seek for solutions in order to the pretend the tensions and lead to directly answers to their problems. The EU must, indeed, put the people at the center of its policy and increase the resources that can change their quality of life and economy in general. To conclude, the EU aware for the future and driven by its interest for better conditions of human rights and development should take the lead for the protection of environment that could stop these global security issues.
The creation of a sustainable, environmentally friendly and community-respecting development model is beyond any doubt the most urgent challenge humanity will be facing in the following decades. As hundreds of scientific studies have shown, contradicted only by a meagre group of greedy and selfish men on the payroll of oil and automobiles corporations, the unrenewable, fossil-based production model that was adopted in industry and transportation ever since the first industrial revolution has failed: the indiscriminate usage of such resources, together with the destruction of immaculate regions of our planet for farming, has dramatically damaged the fragile equilibrium that made the Earth suitable for life. At present times, the consequences of such a wicked industrial model can be witnessed in every country of our world: a significant increase of the average global temperature, desertification, rising sea levels, droughts, increasingly hot summers as well as heavy rains causing floods and snowfalls. Despite someone arguing global warming is fake news because he felt the weather was colder from his skyscraper in NYC, more and more local communities are being affected by this completely man-made phenomenon, with droughts in south California, floods in central Italy, wildfires all over Australia and more. All things being the same, the predictions of the effects of climate change are far from reassuring: at the current rate, global average temperature should increase by 2 °C by 2050, with some regions of the planet being affected more than others. In particular, temperatures will rise more in Africa, which will then be threatened by weather phenomena damaging the economy and population. Between 350 and 600 million people will experience severe food and water shortage and it is very likely that, if nothing is done to prevent such changes, a massive wave of climatic migrations and social upheavals will burst all over the Earth. In the worst possible scenario, such catastrophe would turn into a class struggle, with the wealthiest part of the population, by then a ridiculously small percentage of the whole humanity, taking over the remaining sources of water, food and energy, securing themselves in the remaining safe regions of the planet, while the poorest half is starving to death. Global warming is no longer a spooky, far possibility, but rather an incumbency that needs to be addressed by solid, irreprehensible policies by the national, European and global authorities. Many have tried to depict climate change as a worry of the wealthy, while the working class is oppressed by far worse issues: job insecurity, social safety, delocalisation of industries, migrations and so on and so forth. According to many right wing politicians, global warming is not as pressing for the poor, but only for the wealthy, since they will no longer be able to spend their holidays in their Caribbean islands, submerged by the sea. In my opinion, this is undoubtedly one of the greatest lies ever spoken. As scientific research has shown, the effects of climate change will hit harder those who are already in greater need of food, water and energy. Global warming could be the cause of an unprecedented social struggle for resources and this is precisely why the progressive parties of every country should focus their efforts on preventing the worst scenario to happen. The current members of the S&D group are the parties or the political heirs of those parties who were born in the XIX century to defend the working class against the exploitation of the early capitalistic industry: their success was linked to their presence and their support to the last ones, to the victims of an ill system increasing the power of the few on the shoulders of the many. It was only thanks to the passionate struggle of the leftist parties in defence of the working class that many of the social rights we benefit from now were conquered. However, history repeats itself and a strikingly new scenery has created: the big corporations are the only ones benefitting from the current industrial model, trying to gaining as much as possible before it is too late. On the other hand, not only the poorest, but everyone who does not benefit from this insane exploitation is being deprived of the basic human rights: our planet, our common house is being destroyed by a handful of people; our health is being threatened by the exposition to dozens of dangerous chemical substances; many are witnessing the destruction of their homeland and cannot to anything against it. If the progressive parties want to reconquer the support of the people, of their electoral basis who has left them for the unrealistic promises of the right wing extremists, they have to start fighting again for them. The struggle against climate change is the greatest threat to a future of equality, justice and liberty and therefore the greatest chance for the progressive family to come back on the side of the many, not the few. As a participant in the School of Democracy organised by the S&D group, I could realise how the fight for a sustainable economy and the need to regain the people’s support are the most urgent challenges for the European progressive parties. I do believe that is it possible for our family to combine such issues together in a successful fashion. The S&D group parties all over Europe should focus on those communities that are already affected by the consequences of global warming or by the side effects of the current industrial model. They should invest their resources in sensitize people of such communities about the need to change our development model, convincing them that the greatest struggle of our times is not the migration wave, but rather the serious threat created by our industries. We should make them see that the enemy is not the refugee or the economic migrant, but rather the big corporation that falsifies the data on the carbon emissions of its cars or the factory that releases carcinogenic substances in the air, the subjects that the right wing and conservative parties all over the world have successfully defended against strict, environmental-friendly policies. The progressive parties should focus their agenda on environmental issues, on the shared goods such as natural resources, landscapes and collective health. They should propose regulations on the environmental-dangerous activities of corporations and industries as well as promote an alternative, sustainable economic and industrial model by increasing national and European investments in innovation. The interests of local communities threatened by the action of big companies should be protected by the governments, inverting a tremendously sad trend that characterised the modern era. The safety and the health of citizens should be preferred over the creation of few jobs and possible damages to the environment. The destiny of humanity as a whole is likely to be determined in the following decades. It is beyond any doubt the greatest political struggle that progressive parties have ever fought: the struggle against the model that led to an apparent increase of global wellness, but only improved the already optimal conditions of the few at the price of the basic rights of the many. Progressive parties have to act in defence of those they were born to protect, remembering the meaning of socialism: to bring forward those who were born behind.
As Socialists and Democrats, we are supporting a common vision of Europe. It is time to reignite the value which have established peace in Europe. Ideally we could support the United States of Europe but first we need to come back to very essential values. Even if those values are shared by other political forces, it is our responsability as challengers to raise high those value. S and D have the historical responsability to bring the EU inside the ECHR protection scheme. There is no rivalry but actual cooperation. Luxembourg and Strasbourg courts are already cooperating. The rogue behaviour of some EU and non EU European countries must be addressed with rigour and conviction. Red lines have been crossed to easy. Over it is over! It was written by a clever mind in the TEU but since entry into force there is no progress. A political will is needed to make this come true. By acceding to the ECHR, the EU will clearly put forward its value on Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law. This will align not only EU Member States but also neighbouring countries of the Balkans and post Soviet Area.
Shaping our future by embracing environmentally friendly lifestyle manners should turn into our common goal. Self-awareness is the very first step that needs to be undertaken. Environmentally-conscious society is a society which takes care of its resources. We need to promote consecutive educational campaigns by focusing on reduce of waste so that people could become aware of the importance of recycling. By clearly understanding the negative impact of the plastic products that they reach out for on a daily basis, they might want to reconsider daily habits which are in apparent detriment of our planet. There should be further investments on campaigns focused on environmentally friendly causes, mainly executed by young people. A young person’s enthusiasm is quite contagious. Their actions are usually inspired by pure conviction of a better and thriving society which requires responsibility and significant efforts. Fostering usage of homegrown food and consuming less meet is another possibility that enhances both our lifestyles and at the same time it preserves our nature healthy. Banning plastic cutlery at fast-food restaurants by replacing them with sustainable alternatives is a must. A key word of our plan should be alternative. We must build a bridge between our own needs and those of our common home.
In the following, I wold like to draw attention to the fact that the European Union, trough competent institutions, needs to take urgent action against natural resource abuses. In Romania after 1989 were sold and destroyed to “the last molecule” everything that meant workplaces, factories, parks, recreational resorts, were given in concession, for money of no hectares of land, and so on. In Romania the abuses continued with illegal retrocessions of buildings, using all sort of economic and financial “engineers”, the law was eluded and so… …And so, in our country, for more than twenty years, the mafia of wood has been ravaging. The last drop of oxygen that we have left with the nonsense and defiance is also stealing. Politicians and those in custody of our forests, the forests that our grandparents and our parents planted, do not care, give the wood mafia the destroying of the woods! It is an alarming situation and no one takes any measure. National Anti-corruption Division and all the other institutions make circus instead dealing with the major problems facing Romania at the moment. I think it is more than just the intervention of the European Union in the sense of imposing the change of the Forest Code… After being sore and poor, the country is taking the last “drop” of wood… We became slaves in our own country. Corruption and the Game of Democracy led Romania a century and a half ago.
Shaping our future by embracing environmentally friendly lifestyle manners should turn into our common goal. Self-awareness is the very first step that needs to be undertaken. Environmentally-conscious society is a society which takes care of its resources. We need to promote consecutive educational campaigns by focusing on reduce of waste so that people could become aware of the importance of recycling. By clearly understanding the negative impact of the plastic products that they reach out for on a daily basis, they might want to reconsider daily habits which are in apparent detriment of our planet. There should be further investments on campaigns focused on environmentally friendly causes, mainly executed by young people. A young person’s enthusiasm is quite contagious. Their actions are usually inspired by pure conviction of a better and thriving society which requires responsibility and significant efforts. Fostering usage of homegrown food and consuming less meet is another possibility that enhances both our lifestyles and at the same time it preserves our nature healthy. Banning plastic cutlery at fast-food restaurants by replacing them with sustainable alternatives is a must. A key word of our plan should be alternative. The next time I grab a cotton bud, I shall know that I have an alternative that might not only guarantee sustainable development of the world I live in, but it also may turn out to be the healthier option for me as an individual. We must build a bridge between our own needs and those of our common home.
The biggest challenge in the upcoming decades is to successfully make the transition towards a green and cleaner economy. As we all know, climate change will have a meaningful impact in our lives, especially of those who are more disadvantaged. Several studies demonstrate that poverty and inequality are expected results from extreme climate events, a changing ecosystem and, evidently, resource shortage. Therefore, we, as socialists, have the duty to ensure environmental protection and widespread usage of renewable energy while, simultaneously, advocating for new ways of human organization and lifestyle, namely in cities. The latter will have a crucial role in our common future. Urban density, when combined with proper public transportation and planned infrastructures, can ensure a more efficient society. Proper management of the local resources will lead to more efficient business, economy and society, which no longer struggle with it – this includes recycling, water and waste management. Incentives for decarbonisation and education on sustainability practices are also directly responsible for laying the ground to a more inclusive and green society. Fundamentally, we need to guide our investment and innovation efforts towards transforming our society within the global climate and environmental challenges. Ensuring sustainable options is the best way to promote prosperity, equality and fairness. We need to act – the future of the human race depends on it.
With all the formidable challenges that confront us, none is more daunting than that of active participation in a common solution. Moving outside Facebook’s personalised news-feed of self-confirmation and a willingness to consider views and beliefs outside our own may be difficult, but it is vital to transformative positive change. Whether we like it or not, the manner in which we respond together to the global challenges will determine our fate. In this respect, we have to fight tirelessly to reduce the existing barriers to increase participation in our democratic life. It is not enough for voting to be easy; people have to want to take part. For people to want to participate in the political process, they must be convinced that their participation actually does matter —it must have a tangible impact on policy decisions, and improve people’s well-being. If we want an EU capable of transforming our societies, it needs to have real capacity to deliver for the common good and it must function in an open and transparent way. Democracy and sovereignty at European level should enrich democracy and sovereignty at national level. For us, this is a key moment to shape a new positive future, to work for unity, cohesion and transformation, against divisions and new walls, fighting against, nationalism and populism.
We need to undergo an ecological transformation at all levels of society in order to accomplish environmental sustainability. Overstepping our planetary boundaries is not an option, as going beyond certain thresholds or tipping points will lead to sudden and irreversible damage to our planet. The transformation required to really achieve sustainable forms of production and consumption must be shaped in such ways as to provide new powerful sources for real and tangible social progress. It must encompass a whole range of areas, including energy, transport, industry, agriculture, health as well as the creation of new green jobs. We need to push our society in a more sustainable direction within planetary boundaries. In this respect, we need to move beyond the current growth paradigm to a sustainable development paradigm. The persistent exploitation of labor and natural resources just for short-term financial gains of a selected few can no longer be tolerated! We must create a society that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. A society for the many, not for the few. We must continue to defend a European society of inclusion based on the principles of freedom, equality, solidarity, diversity and social justice. It is essential that “no one is left behind” in this process of transformation.