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In conversation with Naturefriends: Leonardo Baroncelli | Vice President of Naturefriends Internatio
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Leonardo Baroncelli from Italy has been elected Vice President of NFI at the NFI Congress on October 21, 2017. He is an active member of Naturefriends Italy dealing with international and environmental topics. In our conversation, Leonardo talks about the reasons for his involvement with Naturefriends and his ideas for the future of the organisation.

 

What was your personal motivation for running for Vice President of the international Naturefriends movement?

During my youth I became an activist of the International Civil Service, A relief organization which sends volunteers worldwide. In this capacity I took part to relief operations during the Florence flooding of 1966 and the West Sicily earthquake of 1968, side by side with thousands of volunteers who came from many countries to help. This experience of great international solidarity has inspired my professional and personal life. After retirement from Italian diplomacy and forty years of service in four continents, I felt the need to devote myself again to non-profit activities, especially for the protection of nature and autochthonous cultures, which are presently exploited in a unsustainable and unfair manner.



Naturefriends Italy are very active on the international level, e.g. supporting the development of a Naturefriends group in Bosnia. How important is internationality for you - especially regarding the Naturefriends movement?

 

It is more than ever of fundamental importance as we face the rise of populism, the threat of terrorism and the crisis of multilateralism. Even the very foundations of the European integration have been called into question in recent years. In this uncertain contest efforts must not be spared to promote the values of the Naturefriends movement, particularly regarding internationalism, democracy, climate justice and the worldwide alliance in favour of the survival of our planet and of mankind.

 

In addition to holding the position of Vice-President, you are also a member of the Steering Group for the Naturefriends Climate Fund. The overall goal of the Climate Fund is to contribute to more climate justice by supporting concrete projects implemented by African Naturefriends. However, many people still perceive Naturefriends solely as a leisure-time and hiking organization. If they asked you why Naturefriends engage for Climate Justice, what would you answer?

 

Climate justice must be a priority in order to mitigate the consequences of climate change in the countries of the South which are not the main producers of CO2. Without climate justice the risks of social inequalities, armed conflicts and mass people displacements are very high. Therefore, it is better to implement the measures of climate justice and of social equalities which can prevent natural and man-made emergencies and make our world a better place to live.
Nevertheless, we also need to promote and support leisure-time and tourism made in a sustainable manner for the social and natural environment. Personally, I like hiking very much.
 


In your opinion, what are the major challenges for the Naturefriends movement for the next years, both in Italy and on the international level?

 

The major challenges for the Naturefriends movement is the aging of our members in Italy and on the international level. This is a challenge also for other non-profit organisations and new avenues should be explored to attract more young members.
First at all, there is a need to raise the political profile of the movement and to speak more loudly in favour of our values. There are time and money constraints but maybe more can be done with less. It is also important to promote a more active cooperation with like-minded associations in Central and Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia and to encourage them to make their voices heard. Finally, we can contribute more actively to the strengthening of civil society through dissemination of best practices, training in advocacy skills and promotion of environmental values in the European political world.

 

  

 
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Dates

June 2018
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