Friends of the Earth

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Friends of Earth
FoE logo.svg
Formation1969 (52 years ago) (1969)
Area served
75 national member groups
Key people
  • Karin Nansen (chair)[1]
  • Jagoda Munić
  • Hemantha Withanage
  • Choony Kim
  • Asad Rehman
  • Godwin Uyi Ojo
  • Kwami Dodzi Kpondzo
  • Silvia Quiroa[2]
Some 5,000 local activist groups

Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) is an international network of environmental organizations in 73 countries.[3]

Friends of the Earth was founded in 1969 in San Francisco by David Brower, Donald Aitken and Gary Soucie after Brower's split with the Sierra Club[4] because of the latter's positive approach to nuclear energy. The founding donation of $500,000 (in 2019 USD) was provided by Robert Orville Anderson, the owner of Atlantic Richfield oil company.[5]

It became an international network of organizations in 1971 with a meeting of representatives from four countries: U.S., Sweden, the UK and France.[6]

FoEI currently has a secretariat (based in Amsterdam, Netherlands) which provides support for the network and its agreed major campaigns.[7] The executive committee of elected representatives from national groups sets policy and oversees the work of the secretariat. In 2016, Uruguayan activist Karin Nansen was elected to serve as chair of Friends of the Earth International.[1]

Campaign issues[edit]

Friends of the Earth (International) is an international membership organisation, with members spread across the world. Its advocacy programs focus on environmental issues, highlighting their social, political and human rights contexts. The international wing of Friends of the Earth is headquartered in Amsterdam, Netherlands, for tax reasons.[8]

As per its website, the current campaign priorities of Friends of the Earth internationally are:[9] economic justice and resisting neoliberalism; forests and biodiversity; food sovereignty; and climate justice and energy. The campaign priorities of FOEI are set at its bi-annual general meeting. Additionally, FOEI also plans campaigns in other fields, such as desertification; Antarctica; maritime, mining and extractive industries; and nuclear power.[9][10] In 2016, FOEI also led a campaign on the consumption and intensive production of meat (Meat Atlas).[11]

FOEI claims that it has been successful as it has eliminated billions in taxpayer subsidies to corporate polluters, reformed the World Bank to address environmental and human rights concerns, pushed the debate on global warming to pressure the U.S. to attempt the best legislation possible, stopped more than 150 destructive dams and water projects worldwide, pressed and won landmark regulations of strip mines and oil tankers and banned international whaling.[12] Its critics claim that the organization tries only to obtain media attention (as by releasing the song "Love Song to the Earth"), but does not stay with locals to actually solve complicated problems, and that it prevents development in developing countries. They have also been critical of its policy to accept high levels of funding from companies and charities related to oil and gas.[13]


In October 2018, it was announced that Aliko Dangote, Africa's richest man, was planning to build a $12 billion oil refinery on 6,180 acres of swampland in Nigeria. This would make it the world's largest refinery. By 2022, the refinery would process 650,000 barrels of crude oil daily. Nigeria is already Africa's largest oil producer, though the refineries present are of low quality, and so most of the oil used within the country is imported. Because the refinery would be built so far from the Niger Delta, where most Nigerian oil is extracted, two undersea pipelines would be used to carry petroleum the 240 miles to the Lagos-based refinery. Pipelines that already exist in Nigeria are under security, and some have been blown up by angry citizens and members of a rebel group called the Delta Avengers, who are angry about the pollution and poverty associated with and stemming from the oil industry. In addition, this refinery would likely give Dangote a monopoly on Nigerian oil.[14]

On December 11, 2018, FOE Africa began protesting outside of an event hosted by the Shell corporation. Activists found that Shell helped draft a portion of the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015. Shell, an oil drilling company, influenced the guidelines on greenhouse gas emission allowances and restrictions.[15][16][17] At the protest, Rita Uwaka of Nigeria's branch of FOE said: "It's like hell on Earth. I represent communities in the Niger Delta who are impacted by these big polluters...Having these big polluters come in here as a saint is not only a slap on us as delegates of COP. It's also a slap on Mother Earth."[18]

Structure of the network[edit]

The member organization in a particular country may name itself Friends of the Earth or an equivalent translated phrase in the national language, e.g., Friends of the Earth (US), Friends of the Earth (EWNI) (England Wales and Northern Ireland), Amigos de la Tierra (Spain and Argentina). However, roughly half of the member groups work under their own names, sometimes reflecting an independent origin and subsequent accession to the network, such as Pro Natura (Switzerland), the Korean Federation for Environmental Movement, Environmental Rights Action (FOE Nigeria) and WALHI (FOE Indonesia).

Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) is supported by a secretariat based in Amsterdam, and an executive committee known as ExCom.[19] The ExCom is elected by all member groups at a general meeting held every two years, and it is the ExCom which employs the secretariat.[20] At the same general meeting, overall policies and priority activities are agreed.

In addition to work which is coordinated at the FoEI level, national member groups are free to carry out their own campaigns and to work bi- or multi-laterally as they see fit, as long as this does not go against agreed policy at the international level.


The Meat Atlas is an annual report on the methods and impact of industrial animal agriculture. The publication consists of 27 short essays and, with the help of graphs, visualises facts about the production and consumption of meat. The Meat Atlas is jointly published by Friends of the Earth and Heinrich Böll Foundation.[21]

Notable supporters[edit]

  • Rock musician George Harrison became associated with Friends of the Earth after attending their anti-nuclear demonstrations in London in 1980. He dedicated his 1989 greatest hits album, Best of Dark Horse, to Friends of the Earth, among other environmental organisations.[22]
  • Jay Kay, frontman of the funk/acid jazz group Jamiroquai, is known for donating a part of the profits earned from his album sales to Friends of the Earth and Oxfam, among other things.
  • Dominique Voynet, who ran in the 1995 and 2007 French presidential elections in the "les verts" parti, or Green Party, is a member.
  • Thom Yorke, lead singer of Radiohead, has publicly supported a number of Friends of the Earth campaigns.
  • A chorus of superstar voices on "Love Song to the Earth"—including Paul McCartney, Jon Bon Jovi, Sheryl Crow, Fergie, Sean Paul, and Colbie Caillat—join forces on this inspirational pop anthem. All proceeds from each sale of the single will be donated to Friends of the Earth U.S. and the United Nations Foundation.

Support for The Big Ask[edit]

Among those present at the launch of Friends of the Earth (EWNI)'s climate change campaign The Big Ask were Jude Law,[23] Edith Bowman, Siân Lloyd, Ross Burden, David Cameron, David Miliband, Thom Yorke, Stephen Merchant, Michael Eavis, and Emily Eavis.[24]

Member organizations[edit]

We are fed up
We are fed up!-protests: Friends of the Earth Germany is part of the coalition which organizes the demonstration.[25]



North America[edit]


See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Karin Nansen new chair Friends of the Earth International". Friends of the Earth International. 2017-01-12. Retrieved 2017-02-15.
  2. ^ "Excom". Friends of the Earth International. April 2014. Retrieved 2017-02-15.
  3. ^ "About Friends of the Earth International". Friends of the Earth International. Archived from the original on 2009-05-04. Retrieved 2009-06-25.
  4. ^ Thomson, Jennifer (2017). "Surviving the 1970s: The Case of Friends of the Earth", Environmental History. Vol. 22(2), p. 235
  5. ^ Shellenberger, Michael. "Why Renewables Advocates Protect Fossil Fuel Interests, Not The Climate". Forbes. Retrieved 2019-06-18.
  6. ^ "History". April 2014. Retrieved 25 May 2016.
  7. ^ "Friends of the Earth ticked off over claims in anti-fracking leaflet". The Guardian. 4 January 2017. Retrieved 16 October 2018.
  8. ^ "Our work". Friends of the earth UK. Retrieved 16 October 2018.
  9. ^ a b "Home - Friends of the earth international". Archived from the original on 25 March 2014. Retrieved 25 May 2016.
  10. ^ Meyer, Jan-Henrik (2014). ""Where do we go from Wyhl?" Transnational Anti-Nuclear Protest targeting European and International Organizations in the 1970s". Historical Social Research. 39 (1): 212–235. doi:10.12759/hsr.39.2014.1.212-235. Retrieved 25 May 2016.
  11. ^ "Home - Friends of the earth international". Archived from the original on 7 March 2014. Retrieved 25 May 2016.
  12. ^ "United States of America - Friends of the Earth International". 8 November 2013. Retrieved 18 January 2017.
  13. ^ "Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth hit back over 'out-of-touch' criticism". The Guardian. 13 June 2011. Retrieved 16 October 2018.
  14. ^ Edozien, Frankie (2018-10-09). "In Nigeria, Plans for the World's Largest Refinery". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-12-11.
  15. ^ Aronoff, Kate (2018-12-08). "Shell Oil Executive Boasts That His Company Influenced the Paris Agreement". The Intercept. Retrieved 2018-12-11.
  16. ^ "Shell Oil Executive Boasts That His Company Influenced The Paris Agreement". PopularResistance.Org. 11 December 2018. Retrieved 2018-12-11.
  17. ^ "What Shell knew and how it once stalled international climate negotiations". The Ecologist. Retrieved 2018-12-11.
  18. ^ Democracy Now!, Top U.S. & World Headlines — December 11, 2018, retrieved 2018-12-11
  19. ^ "International secretariat". Retrieved 25 May 2016.
  20. ^ "Home - Friends of the earth international". Archived from the original on 9 April 2010. Retrieved 25 May 2016.
  21. ^ Meat Atlas, Friends of the Earth, download Meat Atlas as pdf
  22. ^ Harry, Bill (2003). The George Harrison Encyclopedia. London: Virgin Books. pp. 28, 85. ISBN 978-0753508220.
  23. ^ Radiohead's Thom Yorke to guest-edit Observer Magazine published March 20, 2008.
  24. ^ "Big names back The Big Ask". Friends of the Earth. Retrieved 25 May 2016.
  25. ^ Friends of the Earth Europe, We are fed up: 30,000 march in Berlin, 19 January 2014


  • Brian Doherty and Timothy Doyle, Environmentalism, Resistance and Solidarity. The Politics of Friends of the Earth International (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2013). [3]
  • Jan-Henrik Meyer, “'Where do we go from Wyhl?' Transnational Anti-Nuclear Protest targeting European and International Organisations in the 1970s,” Historical Social Research 39: 1 (2014): 212–235. [4]

External links[edit]