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Mobilizing citizens for Climate Solutions
Start date: Feb 1, 2015, End date: Jul 31, 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

In November 2013, seven hundred and fifty climate activists from Belgium, the UK and France took a special train from Brussels to Warsaw. It was organized to bring as many people as possible to the Conference of Parties, the yearly negotiating space for governments under the United Framework Conference on Climate Change, which was taking place in Warsaw. The train brought together a wide range of organizations, movements and citizens - young and old - and provided a platform for exchange, learning and cooperation. Upon return, leading individuals from the different participating organizations decided to build on the success of the project and start to prepare an even bigger mobilization for the COP21 in Paris 2015. The organization Climate Express (BE) was founded and cooperation was sought with Bizi (FR) and the Campaign against Climate Change (UK) to launch a transnational project titled “Mobilizing Citizens for Climate Solutions”. There are close to thirthy young and dynamic individuals leading this project and around hundred volunteers involved. The leaders are coming from a broad range of youth movements and organizations in Belgium, France and the UK and together bring a wide range of skills to the project: leadership and coordination skills, project planning and implementation, campaign design, communication skills, website design, accountancy, fundraising, education skills and working specifically with youth. The objectives of the project are (1) to sensitize and mobilize citizens from Belgium, France and the United Kingdom around the challenges of our generation, specifically climate change; (2) to bring thousands of them physically to the COP21 in Paris; and to (3) showcase the wide range of solutions emerging within civil society, to provide a vision for a just transition. The planned activities fit into three stages. First there will be a decentralized phase in which partners sensitize and mobilize citizens around climate solutions in own countries. This will include a local tour in France and Belgium, on tandem and by train repectively, to visit local communities and engage with citizens. We will further organize an event called “Alternatiba” in at least 30 cities: a village of alternatives to climate change. It aims at gathering different popular and inclusive alternatives to climate change that are already being practiced by the population (regarding such different areas as housing, energy, agriculture and food, etc) in a single, popular and festive event, in order to demonstrate how a more sustainable and fair society can also be a better place to live together. This mobilization phase will be followed by a centralized phase in which collective transport is organized from each country to the COP21 and a joint program is offered during the conference. We want to mobilize at least 12 000 people from the UK and Belgium to join us to Paris. This time we will not only go by train, but also by bus, by bike and on foot to the negotiations! This part of the project will go beyond only the logistics of the transport. Workshops, trainings, citizens’ assemblies, concerts, etc will be organized along the way. We want to bring together social movements, ecological organisations, trade unions, young and old, and excluded groups and focus on what unites us rather than what divides us. During the COP21 we aim for a strong citizens presence, raising their voice, showing that solutions exists and holding governments to account. Finally, after the COP21, there will be another decentralized follow-up phase in the different participating countries, where the results of the COP21 will be discussed at various for and follow-up actions will be planned. A documentary will be made during the project, which will be broadly disseminated upon return from Paris. The aim of our project is to re-activate citizens involvement in this crucial debate which has too often taken place above their heads or is perceived as something that does not affect them directly. We want to bring a positive message. The doom and gloom message around climate change has paralyzed citizens and governments alike. Our focus will be on the opportunity this crisis creates to build a more sustainable and just society. We will showcase the many alternatives (in terms of food & energy production, urban planning and transport, local currencies etc) that already exist. This will hopefully, in the long run, lead to the proliferation of citizen-driven projects at the local, regional, national and transnational level.
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