Benjamin Wold Birmanis

The Young Greens is the youth and student wing of the Green Party of England and Wales. This summer, members of the Young Greens will be voting to elect a new executive. Bright Green is offering each of the candidates a chance to set out their vision.

‘Think Global, Act Local’ is a principle that guides us to practical action in the face of a mountainous problem. Yet it is the global mountain that gives the local action meaning, and in the throes of local and national politics this perspective can easily be obscured. Traversing borders and meeting other mountaineers reminds us of the global struggle for climate and social justice, while giving us new ideas and fresh energy to keep up the fight at home.

I am standing to be the next Young Greens international officer because politics has always been international to me. Born in Norway with my father a Latvian immigrant, it seemed arbitrary to confine my political interests to one border or another. When I moved to the UK, I quickly learned that political realities I had taken for granted were missing here, and vice versa. While I have now long been engaged with British politics, it was only after attending 30 Under 30 this year and meeting inspirational Young Greens of all different backgrounds that I began to feel I could actively participate. This liberating experience of politics without borders is something I would like to share and grow in the role of international officer.

I have experience holding elected office as both deputy leader and leader of my regional Unge Venstre (liberal environmental party) back in Norway. While I have moved considerably to the left since then, I still value the experiences I had during this time. Chief amongst these experiences was a political exchange trip to Sweden to help our sister parties with their election campaigns. Here, I learnt that being part of another country’s politics expands your understanding of what is politically possible.

This experience of international collaboration and communication is something I want for every Young Green. However, while these trips are momentous and educational, they are also limited by resources, both financial and environmental, making them selective in how many can attend and how often they occur. To overcome this, I will use my role as International Officer to create a twinning project.

The goal of the twinning project is to set up an enduring channel of communication between each local Young Green branch and a corresponding local branch of a young green party in a different country. This channel of communication can be the basis for discussions, teaching, and possibly even meet-ups. I would facilitate the creation of these channels by contacting executives of green parties in other countries to establish the communication, and providing suggestions to each party in the twinship about what they might do together.

My vision is that these twinships will grow and evolve into something self-sustaining. These channels will not just exist for a weekend, but in perpetuity, and give every Young Green a chance to communicate with fellow Green activists abroad. It will also make it easier to form connections with green parties outside of Europe, as it evades the geographical limitations exchange trips usually suffer from.

International cooperation determines how you portray yourself to the world. Brexit has frayed our ties to Europe, and Boris Johnson looking towards his 2034 re-election campaign is fraying our ties to reality. It is forgivable for other countries to discount Britain as a team player when it comes to tackling inequality and the climate catastrophe. And while the Young Greens cannot alone change this perception, nor the reasons for it, at least we can show that there is a Green resistance in Britain, fighting for the shared values of social justice and sustainability. As international officer, I will endeavor to project this image as far and wide as I can.

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