Welcome to Green Agenda, an online publishing project of the Green Institute, that aims to explore contemporary green politics and philosophy.
Green Agenda had its genesis in conversations about the broken state of political debate in this country. There is more, and must be more, to politics and public debate than repeating the ways in which any particular government is bad.
When as a society we are seeking to meet the challenges of our times, we need to do so by discussing and debating alternative ideas and thinking; weigh up different ways of seeing the world and different visions for what we want our community, nation, and planet to be.
Underpinning these considerations are the values we hold and the beliefs through which we view the world; otherwise known as a philosophy. These values become apparent when considering questions such as: how do we view the relationship between people, the environment and the economy; what is the role of the state in our society; how and to what ends should we construct our economy; what does it mean to recognise people’s inherent humanity and dignity; how do we acknowledge that human beings are part of the natural world and respect the specific values of all aspects of nature.
Instead of debating these questions, the old political parties fundamentally share a similar worldview. This shows itself, for example, in their inhumane refugee policies, their addiction to coal and other fossil fuel exports in the face of global warming, their preparedness to cut welfare to balance the budget, and a willingness to damage our democracy by subjecting people to mass surveillance. This isn’t to say there are not differences between the old parties, nor to suggest that there are not better or worse governments, but too often the differences are in how policy is implemented not in the rationale.
Green thinking is a challenge to this consensus, both here in Australia and around the world. The ideas and philosophy underpinning green politics are concerned with meeting the challenges of the future: promoting the public good, valuing people over an economic system, addressing growing inequality, and protecting the planet’s ecosystems.
Green Agenda is a place for thoughtful substantive political ideas and discussion. We want to explore the philosophy that sets green thinking apart and the ideas that will help our society meet the challenges of the present and the future. We invite you to be a part of this collaborative, challenging and exciting project.
What is green thinking?
Green political movements globally are founded on a set of beliefs best summarised in the Global Greens Charter. Here in Australia the four pillars of ecological sustainability, social and economic justice, participatory democracy and peace and nonviolence guide green thinking and the work of the Greens as a political party.
However, green thinking is not confined to people who are active in green politics or identify as part of a green political movement. Green thinking is found wherever people are writing or talking about ideas that are consistent with these values.
The first set of essays published in Green Agenda touch on all the four pillars. The pillars are, of course, interconnected – there cannot be social justice without economic justice; or economic and social justice without ecological sustainability; while participatory democracy is essential for creating a peaceful world.
Simon Copland takes a look at Naomi Klein’s book “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate” and considers its key themes in relation to Australia’s struggle to confront global warming. The interrelated nature of ecological sustainability with social and economic justice is at the heart of his essay.
We are re-publishing Senator Christine Milne’s essay “Things are crook in Tallarook” where Christine argues forcefully that Australian democracy is in trouble and the reengagement of us as citizens in the democratic project is essential if we are to meet our current and future challenges.
In a world that seems to be in a permanent state of war, we are presenting a fascinating interview with Edith Ballantyne, a former General Secretary of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). Edith is interviewed by Felicity Ruby about WILPF, its 100 years of anti-war advocacy and what it takes for peace.
We will also shortly be publishing an essay from Senator Scott Ludlam, exploring his vision for sustainable cities. Scott is an insightful thinker about the possibility of cities that have within their design and creation the capacity to achieve sustainability and social justice.
Over the course of the Green Agenda project, we will build a valuable resource consisting of writings, interviews and creative content that builds a picture of the interconnecting ideas crucial to green politics.
There are few books or substantial articles focused on green thinking and its place in contemporary politics. Drew Hutton edited an important book, “Green Politics in Australia”, almost 30 years ago. Bob Brown and Peter Singer wrote a book outlining core Green policies in the 1990s. Since then the Greens party and its members of parliament have had the task of articulating the policies that flow from green thinking.
The few academics that are starting to take an interest in green politics in Australia tend to be more focused on party structures, the political base of the party in the community and engagement within the parliamentary sphere. There has been much less written about green ideology or its philosophical grounding or the place of green ideas in contemporary Australian politics, especially how these ideas represent a fundamental challenge to the old parties, their principles and philosophical foundations.
Green Agenda is designed to fill this gap.
Debate and Discussion
If you are interested in progressive green thinking, we are interested in hearing from you. There are different ways you can contribute to Green Agenda. Our primary content is long form essays (up to 5000 words) or interviews exploring a topic or theme consistent with the values and beliefs discussed above. We also welcome creative forms of content, for example graphics, photos, cartoons or multi-media content.
We are seeking to encourage discussion of the ideas raised in the essays through publishing thoughtful responses (over 500 words). If you read an essay or interview and something in it resonates or doesn’t, please look to write a response and continue the discussion.
Ideas for essays, interviews and creative content can be submitted here, along with responses to any content.
We will be taking Green Agenda offline by holding events around the country to consider and discuss the published essays. Through these events and other means we want to encourage wide debate and discussion of the ideas the project will generate.
The first event is in Melbourne on 12 March from 6pm, details are on our events page. We will have a panel discussing the first essays we have published. Charlie Wood (350.org), Dr Peter Christoff (University of Melbourne) and Melanie Lowe (University of Melbourne) will join us, the editors, and members of the Green Agenda Board for a lively debate involving you – the audience.
Green Agenda is a not for profit project of the Green Institute. We are able to publish the website due to the funding we receive from donations. If you are keen to read and engage in a more substantive debate on the challenges we face and the future for our country and planet, please donate to Green Agenda.
As editors we want Green Agenda to be engaging and challenging. Over the course of the next few months as we continue to publish, please let us know if are successful.
Clare Ozich and Lefa Singleton Norton
Green Agenda Editors