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Naturfreunde im Gespräch: Manfred Pils, Präsident der Naturfreunde Internationale

Manfred Pils from Austria was re-elected as President of the international umbrella organisation by the Congress of Naturefriends International in Lage Vuursche (Netherlands). The staff at NFI congratulates him on his re-election!
Manfred Pils shares his vision for the future of the Naturefriends movement and talks about current challenges, as well as his personal goals.  

The  23rd Climate Conference has just come to an end in Bonn recently. In addition, the Congress of Naturefriends International was placed under the motto "Living climate justice! In solidarity towards a better future!". Climate protection and climate justice are also key issues of the international Naturefriends movement. What do you consider the biggest challenges in this regard and how can comprehensive climate protection be achieved? How would you describe a climate-just world? What can and will Naturefriends International do to achieve this? 


Manfred Pils: Climate protection needs to deal with the core issues. This especially means the radical reduction of CO2 emissions in the western industrialised nations, as well as the emerging nations – in particular energy production, traffic, industry and heating. 
The technologies already exist - we just have to use them, which will in turn benefit the economy. At the same time, we need to assist the people in the South – who are already strongly effected by climate change though they in no way contributed to it – to mitigate the detrimental effects of climate change. This means that reforestation projects, necessary structural measures to stabilise coastal areas, projects to ensure water supply and irrigation, as well as necessary resettlements need to be financed.
To achieve this, active solidarity at the international level is needed – which is exactly what NFI stands and works for. And of course us Naturefriends need to also actively work for climate justice, which we already do through a few projects – for example planting trees in Senegal and the Gambia, which is financed by the Naturefriends Climate Fund.   



Naturefriends currently face many challenges. Core issues for many national associations are for example maintaining the Naturefriends Houses and adapting their offers for members to new social developments. At the same time, many national organisations struggle with the declining income from membership fees and national subsidies. What are your visions for a successful future of the Naturefriends Movement? 
Manfred Pils: NFI cannot and will not tell its member associations what to do. However, our common basis is the sustainable use of our natural resources, experiencing nature together and internationality. We connect recreational experiences with dedicated services for a sustainable society. For me, that is what makes our movement special and what we should emphasize. We can convince people to join our movement through a modernised image, we can renew our movement sustainably.   
What can Naturefriends International do to achieve those visions? Can you tell us more about your personal goals you set yourself as President of Naturefriends International for the next three years?  
Manfred Pils: Naturefriends International is the figurehead for the Naturefriends Movement – very important to spread the movement. Our strength is the diversity of the Naturefriends, the creativity and the dedication of many volunteers. We would wish to support the exchange and enrichment, while showing that internationality is an important value within a global society – not only for the individual member but also for the political work of Naturefriends, as for example our activities for climate justice.
Especially now, in times when international politics is driven increasingly by national interests and the core values of our society are being questioned more and more, NFI needs the full support of its member organisations so we can speak with a strong voice and be heard. This will be at the heart of my work in the next three years. 
  (November 2017)
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