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Naturefriends demand sustainability as the guiding principle for a social democracy

In order to guarantee sustainable development on all levels, Europe will have to create institutional structures
Graz, September 30, 2011 – “Sustainability unlimited“ is the motto of the XXI. Congress of Naturefriends International (NFI). About 130 delegates from Europe and Africa discuss the societal change and international solidarity. The Congress was inaugurated today by the Austrian President Heinz Fischer.

“Developments in recent years have clearly revealed that the lopsided liberalisation of markets has triggered an unbridled exploitation of natural resources. Instead of eliminating poverty, this approach is designed to further widen the gap between poor and rich. The financial crisis has also exposed the fact that unregulated markets are undermining their own foundations and keep throwing also the industrialised countries into almost uncontrollable crises. We urgently need a global re-think”, explained Manfred Pils, President of Naturefriends International, in his opening address to the Congress.

Naturefriends International request European politicians to include the aims of sustainable development into all areas of the European Union as well as to clearly regulate the financial markets to secure social democracy and a fair global development.

Sustainability instead of growth
“Since the beginning of the modern age, the idea of progress through growth has been based on the principles of linearity and completion. Today, we experience a deep crisis of this idea and the model of European modernity on the whole. The pure focus on economic growth, technical rationalism and instrumental reason reached its limits. The Naturefriends, an organisation of sustainability, highlight viable alternatives”, said Michael Müller, Federal Chairman of Naturefriends Germany and expert in the Study Commission on Growth, Wellbeing and Quality of Life of the German Bundestag.

Christian Felber, co-founder of attac Austria, presented the welfare-economy as an alternative model to the current, exclusively profit-orientated pursuit of growth.  “The time has come to introduce a new economic model. The more socially responsible, ecologically friendly, democratic and solidary companies act, the more they benefit“, he said.

“What we need is a development that will no longer overtax the regenerative properties of nature and the potential of the real economy. This is not about growth. Our democracy needs dynamics of change so as to shape economy and society. First of all, the financial markets need to be regulated in order to strengthen a social democracy“, demanded Manfred Pils.

Sustainability unlimited
Naturefriends is an international and democratically organised movement with about 500,000 members in more than 50 countries. It champions a boundless and ecological as well as socially equitable society. Numerous member organisations from Africa, committed to the preservation of biodiversity and to climate protection in their countries, participate in the Congress.

“Naturefriends International actively support their African member organisations to implement sustainable climate and economic policies, because investments into agriculture and nature protection in Africa are investments in both climate protection and an equitable social development”, Manfred Pils concluded.

The latest information on the Naturefriends’ Congress 2011 can be found on

For photos and further queries please contact:
Anita Pinter
Presse- und Öffentlichkeitsarbeit
Naturfreunde Internationale
Diefenbachgasse 36/9; 1150 Wien
Tel.: +43 (0) 1 892 38 77-24 | +43 (0) 664 3812 143
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