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Naturefriends talk: Jacques Leton / President of Naturefriends Belgium-Wallonia (UFAN)

Jacques Leton was re-elected as President of Naturefriends Belgium-Wallonia in April. He tells us about his goals for the next years and his personal motivation for his commitment.  

Congratulations on your re-election as President of Naturefriends Wallonia! You had many intense discussions in the last months regarding the development of your organisation. What are your goals for the next years?
Our primary goal is to lower the average age of our members by supporting our youth group. Motivating young people to join the Naturefriends movements has to be the goal, if we don’t want to die out due to our age distribution. This is a significant challenge, but it can be done, if we put a lot of effort into it and provide the necessary means. I am convinced that Naturefriends will always have a place in our world and that we have to give it our all in order to save mother earth and our movement.

Volunteering means a lot of work and responsibility – but is also a chance to make a difference and support the sustainable development of our society. What is your personal motivation to volunteer? What is especially important to you for your work as president?

It is obvious that „work and responsibility” are both important and are inseparable for the future of our planet. However, we have to realise that it is not an easy thing to do. Thus, UFAN has been considering how we can generate the needed resources.

Naturefriends Wallonia are one of the smaller member organisations of Naturefriends International and have – just like many other associations – limited resources for international work. In your opinion, which international activities should Naturefriends focus on in the next years?

We should focus much more on saving our planet while including our members more strongly. I believe, NFI should initiate more conservation projects at the European level. And yes, we need to support our African friends – I am completely convinced by this – but the thematic work is important too. Closing the gap between the different organisation should be enabled, however the resources are limited, and we also need our members to compromise in that area.

The Naturefriends movement turns 125 years old in 2020. What is needed to remain successful in the future?
We need to rejuvenate our movement if we want to proudly celebrate 125 years and look towards a secure future. We can only survive if we do more than politics – though that seems to be a trend -  but focus on the future of our movement and the future of our planet.
Let us not forget our elders, who worked hard for what we have now. If we want to continue their work, we have to fight for a younger movement.
I also believe that we are not only Naturefriends but are the tourism association of Naturefriends. We are here to protect the environment but also want to enable our members and other people to discover nature.

(June 2018)



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