Another year and another Friends of the Earth local groups conference, this year FoE turned 40 and to celebrate, 4 of the previous directors of FoE reminisced about their previous experiences as leader, which I thought provided a useful historical context to some to our current campaigning.

In keeping with the 40 years theme the conference was entitled ‘The route to 2050: the next forty years’ as one might expect many of the talks and seminars were spent discussing and planning the future direction of the organisation. While there were far too many enlightening and inspirational moments to list them all, some of particular note included; Nnimmo Bassey, Chair of Friends of the Earth International informing us of the global challenges the environmental movement faces in the coming years. His talk reminded me that local groups, such as BfoE, are part of much wider international movement seeking environmental justice. Kate Pickett’s, author of ‘The Spirit Level’, lecture on the link between income inequality and social problems, which includes amongst other things carbon emissions, was of great interest. Conference also provided a great opportunity to feed into some of the new national campaigns that FoE will be ruining in the coming year. Of particular personal interest was the forthcoming Bees campaign (watch this space for more info!), which sees FoE moving back into campaigning on issues of biodiversity.

On a lighter note this year’s conference saw BFoE receive its first Earthmover award, for photo of the year. The photo in question, which has graced the covers of this very newsletter, saw a handful of BFoE dressed as anti-consumerist Father Christmas’ parading through Birmingham for ‘buy nothing day’. Aside from all the formal talks and seminars the gathering of local groups provides a chance to network with like minded individuals from across the country, it is always interesting to hear the specific challenges facing each region.

As exhilarating and informative as ever, and always one of the highlights of the year. My only hope is that conference 2012 can be equally enjoyable and educative.