Friends of the Earth Europe

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Friends of the Earth Europe (FoEE)
FoEE logo
Type Non-governmental organization
Focus Environmentalism, Sustainability and Human rights
Area served
Method lobbying, research, direct action
31 national member groups
Key people
Magda Stoczkiewicz (Director)
David Heller
Adrian Bebb
Paul de Clerck
Brook Riley

Friends of the Earth Europe (FoEE) is the European branch of the world's largest grassroots environmental network, Friends of the Earth International (FOEI). It includes 31 national organisations and thousands of local groups.[1]

The Friends of the Earth Europe office in Brussels fulfils a number of functions. It represents the network’s member groups towards the European institutions aiming to influence EU-policymaking; raises public awareness of environmental issues; campaigns for sustainable solutions for the most pressing environmental and social challenges threatening people and planet; runs capacity building projects for its membership, and is a secretariat for its 31 national members. The FoEE office is located in Mundo-B – a sustainable building housing Belgian and European NGOs near the European Parliament in Brussels.

FoEE Member organisations[edit]

Country Name Website
Austria Global 2000 Global 2000
Belgium (Flanders & Brussels) Friends of the Earth Vlaanderen & Brussel (Friends of the Earth Flanders & Brussels)
Belgium (Wallonia) Amis de la Terre Belgique Amis de la Terre
Bulgaria Za Zemiata (For the Earth)
Croatia Zelena Akcija (Green Action)
Cyprus Friends of the Earth Cyprus
Czech Republic Hnutí Duha (Rainbow Movement)
Denmark NOAH
England/Wales/Northern Ireland (EWNI) Friends of the Earth (EWNI)
Estonia Eesti Roheline Liikumine (Estonian Green Movement)
Finland Maan ystävät (Friends of the Earth)
France Les Amis de la Terre (Friends of the Earth - France)
Georgia Sakhartvelos Mtsvaneta Modzraoba (Greens Movement of Georgia) FoE Georgia
Germany Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland (BUND)
Hungary Magyar Természetvédok Szövetsége (National Society of Conservationists)
Ireland Friends of the Earth
Italy Amici della Terra (Friends of the Earth)
Latvia Zemes Draugi (Friends of the Earth)
Lithuania Lietuvos Zaliuju Judéjimas (Lithuanian Green Movement)
Luxembourg Mouvement Ecologique (Ecological Movement)
Macedonia Dvizhenje na Ekologistite na Makedonija (Ecologists Movement of Macedonia)
Malta Moviment ghall-Ambjent (Friends of the Earth (Malta))
The Netherlands Vereniging Milieudefensie (Environmental Defence)
Norway Norges Naturvernforbund (Norwegian Society for the Conservation of Nature)
Poland Polski Klub Ekologiczny (Polish Ecological Club)
Scotland Friends of the Earth Scotland
Slovakia Priatelia Zeme Slovensko (Friends of the Earth Slovakia)
Spain Amigos de la Tierra (Friends of the Earth)
Sweden Jordens Vänner (Friends of the Earth)
Switzerland Pro Natura
Ukraine Zelenyi Svit (Green Light)


The current campaign priorities of Friends of the Earth Europe are:

  • Climate justice and energy
  • Food, agriculture and biodiversity
  • Economic justice
  • Resource Use and consumption
  • Sustainable EU funds

Climate justice and energy[edit]

FoEE’s European Big Ask climate change campaign[2] was launched in February 2008 following a successful campaign of the same name by Friends of the Earth in the UK which is widely credited with getting the UK government to introduce the Climate Change Bill.[3][4][5] The Big Ask brings together FoEE member groups across Europe to campaign for national climate change legislation. The launch of the European Big Ask[6] was supported by Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke and the European Environment Commissioner at the time, Stavros Dimas. The campaign has different names in different countries.

FoEE also campaigns for the EU to introduce emission reduction targets of at least 40% by 2020. The organisation calls for radical improvements in energy efficiency, an accelerated phase-out of fossil fuels, a dramatic shift towards community-owned renewable energies, and reduced overall resource consumption and lifestyle changes.[citation needed]

Food Agriculture and biodiversity[edit]

As part of its campaign for sustainable food and agriculture, the organisation has been a key participant in the European debate on GMOs since 2000, founding the GMO-Free Europe [7] movement in 2006 to prevent new GMOs from being planted in each region of Europe. Today, the organisation is campaigning [8][9] to prevent the European Union from authorising new GMO crop varieties for commercial growing, and to prevent GMO seeds from contaminating non-GMO fields and supply chains in Europe.[10][11]

Friends of the Earth Europe has also since 2007 campaigned to resist targets and subsidies for biofuels in Europe under the Renewable Energy Directive, by bringing public attention to problems of soy, palm oil and other biofuels in causing indirect land use change (ILUC),[12][13][14] land grabbing in Africa [15] and rising food prices.

The organisation advocates for more environmentally friendly farming under the European Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) campaigning [16][17][18] for reforms that can mitigate climate change emissions (especially through reducing reliance on soy imports for livestock [19]), protect biodiversity, and stop the collapse of family farming in Europe’s agriculture sector.

FoEE’s biodiversity campaign,[20] was launched in 2011, and brings together field projects at national and local levels across Europe to protect and conserve biodiversity, with advocacy to halt the worldwide decline of species via, e.g., the EU’s biodiversity strategy.

Economic Justice[edit]

Friends of the Earth Europe’s economic justice programme is looking into the influence of companies over EU decision-making and the economic, social and environmental consequences of their practices. The three streams of work are complementary, respectively looking at different aspects of the same issue. Together they are exposing cases of corporate capture of EU regulation and examples of the impact of the lack of regulation that often results from the influence of corporate interests over EU policy process. Friends of the Earth Europe campaigns for balanced policy-making putting people’s and nature’s interest first, at the expense of all-out companies’ profits. FoEE strategy combines direct advocacy among Brussels-based decision makers together with campaigning through reports, online petitions and media actions.

The economic justice programme addresses three areas of concern.

  • Extractive industries
  • Corporate Accountability and Financial Regulation
  • Lobbying Transparency

Extractive Industries[edit]

The extractive industries campaign is looking into the destructive impacts of the activities of the European oil, gas and mining industry in developing countries. Most of the natural resources are located in Southern countries but their exploitation often handled by powerful companies based in Western countries, which fail to redistribute the wealth and benefits to local communities. Rather resource exploitation often leads to worrying environmental damage and corruption circles in developing countries. FoEE’s work aims at exposing how irresponsible company practices are affecting local communities and their environment.[21] The programme is based on extensive exchange and cooperation between FoEE Office in Brussels and local Friends of the Earth groups in Southern countries. Facts and evidence collected on the ground are used to lobby the European institutions towards tighter EU regulation for European extractive companies.

Recent examples of campaign topics and activities include:

Corporate Accountability[edit]

The corporate accountability campaign looks into the effects of the activities of European companies having subsidiaries outside of Europe. As multinational companies often fail to respect EU laws and workers’ rights when operating abroad, FoEE campaigns for the introduction of proper rules for business. These should guarantee that:

  • European companies abide by the same safety and social standards for their workers and facilities outside of Europe as in Europe;
  • European companies are held accountable for their practices outside of Europe, in particular in cases of abuses.

On this campaign, FoEE operates in the framework of the European Coalition for Corporate Justice, of which it is a founding member.

Lobbying Transparency[edit]

The lobby transparency campaign looks how companies exert their influence over and sometimes directly shape decision-making in the EU. It campaigns in favour of transparency in business influence[26] and more balanced representation of stakeholders in EU policy making. These include:

  • The introduction of a mandatory lobbying register in the EU;[27]
  • Strengthened regulation on conflicts of interest and the revolving door for EU Commissioners and EU staff;[28]
  • Reviewed rules to avoid the regulatory capture of expert groups and other high level groups that prepare the legislative work in the EU and de facto orient EU decisions.[29]

FoEE has been active in exposing cases of revolving door scandals, misleading lobby registrations.[30] or deceptive lobby practices. It has been lobbying EU Commission and Parliament in favour of stricter EU legislation in order to close the current loopholes and prevent such scandals. Examples of advocacy and campaign activities include:

Resource Use and Consumption[edit]

Friends of the Earth Europe calls for the accurate measurement, and then reduction of Europe's use of land, water, materials and carbon use. They recognise and promote the environmental, economic and social benefits of reducing Europe’s resource consumption. Following research by Sustainable Europe Research Institute, this work has focussed on promoting carbon footprint, water footprint, land footprint & material footprint as tools for measuring & reducing resource use.

FoEE also works alongside its network to promote more sustainable production [35] of goods, and expose dirty practices by large multinational companies. The organisation promotes the reuse and recycling of materials, opposes incineration, and focuses on reducing Europe’s land footprint.

Sustainable EU Funds[edit]

Friends of the Earth Europe monitors EU Structural and Cohesion funds and campaigns for the reform of these investments– and aims to ensure that they are spent in truly sustainable ways.[36] The organisation want to see the funds used in ways that aid Europe's transformation to a resource-efficient society – with a lower energy consumption drawn from renewable sources, and where biodiversity is protected.

The organisation wishes to ensure no harmful social or environmental impacts should result from these investments.


FoEE is an active member of many coalitions working on environmental issues in Europe including:

Youth Network (Young Friends of the Earth Europe)[edit]

In 2007 a youth network called Young Friends of the Earth Europe (YFoEE), was established by national Young Friends of the Earth groups affiliated to FoE member groups. YFoEE is an autonomous and self organised youth-led network, with structures and ways of working set and led by young people, yet retains strong links to Friends of the Earth Europe and the Friends of the Earth International Federation and their mission, vision and values[39]

The YFoEE network unites youth organisations and youth groups working on social and environmental justice in Europe, and runs campaigning and educational activities for young people on a European level. It consists of youth member groups in 15 countries from both EU and Non EU countries, including Natur og Ungdom (Norway),[40] BUNDjugend (Germany)[41] or YFoE Ukraine.[42]

The key campaigning topic of the network since 2007 has been advocating for climate justice, in particular opposing what it considers to be false solutions to climate change,[43] such as nuclear energy,[44][45] and educating young people to create a youth movement for climate justice. In 2010, YFoEE hosted a parallel convergence to the COP16 UN Climate Talks in Cancún, Mexico, in Brussels, Belgium as an alternative forum to the International political negotiations and to build the regional European Youth Climate Movement.[46]

YFoEE has been active as part of the Youth Climate Movement and youth delegation at the UNFCCC international climate negotiations, and is one of the founding members of European Youth Climate Movement.[47]

Ways of working[edit]

The YFoEE network is supported by a secretariat in the office of FoEE in Brussels, and coordinated by a Steering Group of 8 volunteers, elected from the YFoEE network annually at the Annual General Meeting. Campaigns and events are led and developed by individual volunteers and representatives of member groups who make up working groups.


Friends of the Earth Europe receives funding from a variety of government and non-government sources. These include the European Commission under the ‘LIFE+ regulation’, the European Climate Foundation, Oak Foundation, and Isvara Foundation, amongst others. It also gets membership fees from national Friends of the Earth groups.


  1. ^ "About Friends of the Earth International". Friends of the Earth International. Archived from the original on 2009-05-04. 
  2. ^ "The Big Ask Climate change, ACT NOW!". Youtube. November 26, 2008. 
  3. ^ Greens' delight at climate bill, BBC News, 15 November 2006
  4. ^ FoE Makes ‘Big Ask' Of The Government, PR Week, 4 July 2007
  5. ^ The world's first climate change law, PCS
  6. ^ "The Big Ask European Launch Event with Tom Yorke". Youtube. February 27, 2008. 
  7. ^ "European Conference on GMO-free Regions, biodiversity & rural development". Retrieved 2012-11-08. 
  8. ^ "European Court protects honey from GM contamination". Friends of the Earth Europe. September 6, 2011. 
  9. ^ "GMO Action by Amigos de la Tierra España". Flickr. September 29, 2009. 
  10. ^ "European ban on modified maize upheld". Financial Times. March 3, 2009. 
  11. ^ "Anti-GM Movement Spreads Across Europe". IPS News. April 22, 2004. 
  12. ^ "Europe's biofuels plans driving social environmental destruction". Friends of the Earth Europe. November 8, 2010. 
  13. ^ "EU Biofuels Goals May Increase Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Lobby Groups Say". Bloomberg. November 8, 2010. 
  14. ^ "Biofuels will up Euro greenhouse emissions". New Scientist. November 11, 2010. 
  15. ^ "Biofuels for Europe driving landgrabbing Africa". Friends of the Earth Europe. August 30, 2010. 
  16. ^ "CAP reform too little to protect environment and greener farming". Friends of the Earth Europe. October 12, 2011. 
  17. ^ "EU under fire for 'watering down' CAP reform plans". The Parliament. September 19, 2011. 
  18. ^ "EU farm plans 'lost opportunity'". The Guardian. October 12, 2011. 
  19. ^ "FoEE soy alternatives Briefing (Final)" (PDF). Friends of the Earth Europe. December 2010. 
  20. ^ [1] Archived December 7, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  21. ^ "Extractive Industries - Blessing or Curse?". Friends of the Earth Europe. 
  22. ^ "Take Action: Are you funding climate chaos?". Friends of the Earth Europe. 
  23. ^ "Tar sands oil extraction spreading rapidly, report warns". May 17, 2010. 
  24. ^ "ArcelorMittal continues to pollute and uproot people's lives" (PDF). Global Action on ArcelorMittal. May 12, 2009. 
  25. ^ "ArcelorMittal: Going nowhere slowly" (PDF). Friends of the Earth Europel. 
  26. ^ "Where Are All the Lobbyists?". The Wall Street Journal. April 21, 2010. 
  27. ^ "Top European companies 'lobbying in secret', says NGO". EurActiv. April 22, 2010. 
  28. ^ "NGOs voice concern over 'conflict of interest' for ex-EU commissioners". The Parliament. May 19, 2010. 
  29. ^ "Auf der Suche nach Europa". Woz. January 13, 2011. 
  30. ^ "Lobbying in Brussels" (PDF). Friends of the Earth Europe. April 2010. 
  31. ^ "Porsche Letters" (PDF). Friends of the Earth Europe. 
  32. ^ "EU commission condemned over Porsche case". The Parliament. December 1, 2010. 
  33. ^ "Winners of Worst EU Lobbying Awards 2010 Revealed!". Irish Left Review. December 8, 2010. 
  34. ^ "New code, old conduct in the European Parliament?". Friends of the Earth Europe. July 18, 2013. 
  35. ^ "About Make It Better campaign". Friends of the Earth EWNI. January 2013. 
  36. ^ "Environment 'hollowed-out' of Cohesion Policy". Friends of the Earth Europe. July 10, 2013. 
  37. ^ "Green 10 Website". Retrieved 2012-11-08. 
  38. ^ "CEE Bankwatch Network Website". Retrieved 2012-11-08. 
  39. ^ "Young Friends of the Earth Europe Website". Retrieved 2012-11-08. 
  40. ^ "Natur og Ungdom Website" (in Norwegian). 2012-10-31. Retrieved 2012-11-08. 
  41. ^ "BUNDjugend Website". Retrieved 2012-11-08. 
  42. ^ YFoE Ukraine Website
  43. ^ "HOODWINKED IN THE HOTHOUSE: False Solutions to Climate Change". Retrieved 2012-11-08. 
  44. ^ "Don't nuke our climate!". YFoEE. December 9, 2010. 
  45. ^ "YFoEE Cancun in Brussels Nuclear Tour". FoEE YouTube Channel. December 8, 2010. 
  46. ^ "Why 'Cancùn in Brussels'?". YFoEE. November 29, 2010. 
  47. ^ L aura, Sep 30, 2009 3:47 PM (2009-09-30). "European Youth Climate Movement Website". Retrieved 2012-11-08. 

External links[edit]