“Think of our movements as an ecosystem, over the last few years we have been blooming and growing throughout Europe. But what would happen if we all bloomed at the same time and in the same direction?”
That was the first description I ever heard of By2020WeRiseUp. Before this all my activism had been local, fighting at most national fights with a solidarity message every now and then for comrades in other countries. The idea that we could continue our local work, but also connect with others regarding timings and messages to amplify our impact across the continent was intoxicating.
That’s what By2020WeRiseUp set out to do in the spring of 2019. The initiative started within the Climate Justice Action (CJA) network, who have for years diligently set up skillshares and networking events for the disobedient climate justice movement across Europe, with the goal of building strategy and cohesive moments of actions in order to escalate our movements.
By2020 connected and built waves of actions, timing mobilisations with other big events in the autumn of 2019, as the movement came out in force on the streets and in the coal mines! The group followed up in January of 2020, in support of the “Strike WEF” movement in Switzerland, where in freezing temperatures activists challenged the “green credentials” of the ultra rich. Across Europe, banks and institutions were targeted in order to amplify their message, placing the connection between finance and climate destruction firmly in the mainstream narrative.
Together with CJA and UK allies from Reclaim the Power, By2020 hosted the first ever European Grassroots Summit in Brussels in early March, bringing people together to skillshare, discuss COP26, and plan future waves of actions with common strategy. These plans were rudely interrupted as the COVID crisis forced all participating groups to reevaluate and drastically alter the agreed wave of action. In those lonely weeks as lockdowns came into effect, By2020 rallied — hosting bi-weekly European Calls for grassroots groups to share ideas, new tactics, and discuss the changes to our narratives that the current crisis required.
One thing that became clear was the need for the climate justice movement to connect and collaborate with other social justice movements in the face of these interconnected crises. This allowed many groups to work to regain momentum in the autumn, through the Climate Care Uprising moment and other calls to action. Despite the enormous challenges COVID placed upon us we once again saw creative, bold and sometimes disruptive actions take place in this new reality.
As 2020 draws to a close, so does the By2020 platform. They put an end date in their name for a reason, imagining new forms of collaboration emerging as the movement grew and changed with time. At their last (online) conference in November, the participants recommended groups across Europe to explore the potential of collaboration and planning through the new Glasgow Agreement platform, which seeks “to reclaim the initiative from governments and international institutions by creating an alternative tool for action and a space for strategy and coordination for the climate justice movement.”
None of this happens by accident. Organising conferences and strategic calls is hard work, but as anyone who has attended any of these can attest, the people involved are incredibly skilled at their jobs. What fascinates me more is the camaraderie and cohesion of the organising and facilitation teams. These are some of the smartest, most dedicated activists I have ever met, with hearts to match. Being in a room with them was difficult but meaningful work, sparking joy and creativity in all of us who were lucky enough to be present.
So as the clock ticks down to midnight at the end of 2020, I would like to raise a toast. To the organisers, facilitators, and behind the scenes coordinators; to every late night meeting, excel spreadsheet or consensus decision making process; to every person who does the hard work far away from the spotlight, but who deserves just as much recognition…
Thank you for 2020. Can’t wait to see what trouble – Good Trouble – you get us into in 2021!
With love and rage,