The year 2015 came to a close with the adoption of the Paris Climate Agreement, which lent crucial momentum to climate policy and global sustainability. The Heinrich Böll Foundation will closely monitor the implementation of both the Paris Agreement as well as the Sustainability Goals contained in the UN’s 2030 Agenda. In addition, we will press forward with a wide variety of activities to promote sustainability in key policy areas such as energy, agriculture, mobility and urban development.
The social and environmental transformation of our societies is certain to trigger disagreements over conflicting goals. To resolve these disagreements constructively, it is essential to have democratic processes of deliberation and negotiation, democratically elected parliaments, independent media, and open spaces for civil society engagement. However, these open spaces are being curtailed more and more around the world. As a political foundation with strong ties to civil society actors in our partner countries, we are experiencing first-hand the massive violation of fundamental democratic rights, along with policies that make it nearly impossible to engage in political action. Despite these obstacles, our international offices and our local partners are performing outstanding work under extremely difficult conditions.
Terrorist attacks – whether in Paris, Beirut, Turkey, or Nigeria – are also occurring in cities and countries where our offices carry out their work. Along with the shock and fear such attacks generate, we also face the political challenge of how to deal effectively with terror without sacrificing precisely those things that must be defended: namely freedom and fundamental democratic rights.
In Germany, too, right-wing populists foment people’s fears at the expense of those who have fled their homelands hoping to find protection against war and persecution. We oppose populism and are committed to a common European refugee policy and the expansion of legal opportunities for immigration. Only if we forge alliances and work together with other democratic forces will we succeed in proving that democratic systems can take effective political action. Our foundation aims to contribute to a political culture in which values such as human dignity, democracy, equal opportunity, self-determination, and pluralism are practiced actively and vibrantly.
We would like to express our thanks to our partners in Germany and abroad, to the members of our volunteer boards and commissions, and not least to all our dedicated staff. They are the lifeblood of the Heinrich Böll Foundation’s successful work.
Berlin, March 2016
Ralf Fücks and Barbara Unmüßig
Presidents, Heinrich Böll Foundation