In the 1980s, Friends of the Earth and The Future in Our Hands started collaborating with environmental organizations in South America, Africa and Asia. Together, all these organizations laid the foundation for an international environmental network. Many organizations felt that at time the understanding of ecology and nature was very low. They had already experience of the problems with the Green Wave Tree hybrid seeds and agricultural poisons and felt that a rural development based on organic family farming was the right way to reverse the development. The organizations that worked in cities believed in people’s own ability to map environmental problems and find solutions, and the importance of organizing locally and even internationally to strengthen each other and learn together.
The Swedish organizations had the opportunity to obtain funding from Sida to support projects run by the organizations in the South. Together, the problems with aid and how those with the money received more power were discussed. A result is that a strategy was developed to counteract the unequal power relations that are often found in development cooperation cooperation. The cooperation on the projects would be based on friendship relations and it was decided that each project would have a Swedish friend group. Another fact that was confirmed was that it is the local organization that has the best insight into the problems and knowledge of the methods that work. At the same time, organizations in the South declared that they needed education and that they wanted to share ideas and knowledge developed in other parts of the world.
The international network was named Tierra del Futuro – Future Earth – Tierra do Futuro. It was decided that the network would have three foundational pillars: Local pilot projects for environmental development – Education – Networking, and to work on three basic principles of Ecology – Cooperation – Self-confidence.
At the same time, Friends of the Earth and the Future in Our Hands founded the Future Earth with the purpose of funding the international network. The Future Earth had its first office in Hälsan’s house on Fjällgatan in Stockholm. The foundation also got more and more responsibility for contact with the network and planning of the business. The foundation was given many more responsibilities, in addition, to raising money and became an assoication in 1994. At the same time, several courses were held in ecology, communication, film and more for the international network at Biskops Arnös Folk community college.
The association Future Earth was formed by the Swedish friend groups and they are the members of the association. Individual membership was not introduced and does still not exist, but it is possible to become a support member. In the 90s the information tour Learn from South was initiated. Each year, four to six people came from the network to share their experiences at schools, associations and municipalities around Sweden. This happened at a time when all municipalities with some self-esteem and environmental insight had an Agenda 21 project and it contributed to the tour’s impact.
In the 1990s, Sida introduced an environmental target for aid, and there were not many Swedish organizations that supported environmental projects in the South. Future Earth was one of these and therefore had a large budget from Sida’s Nature Unit. Future Earth supported several major projects and exchanges between the organizations were carried out each year. Among other things, Indian organizations visited southern Brazil to share their success with organic family farming. Meetings, workshops and courses were held that the entire network could participate in and there was also a Swedish volunteer activity. Volunteers first completed a one-year training in ecology and international collaboration at Bishop’s Arnö community college and then were given the opportunity to work for two years at an organization in Latin America.
The association and the network grew and in the mid-90s there were around ten employees in Sweden. The Future Earth moved to a larger office on Tideliusgatan on Södermalm in Stockholm. However, the network in Africa was weak. A delegation of people from South America and Sweden visited South Africa to seek cooperation, but there was no result. A few years later, a friend group ceased working with two organizations in Tanzania and Kenya. When the group of friends ceased, all cooperation with the organizations in Africa also disappeared and two members in the Philippines left the network in the late 1990s. The network now consisted of about 20 organizations in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, the Philippines, India, Nicaragua, Peru and Uruguay. </ Span>
The activities of the Future Earth grew larger than the association managed and Sida terminated the agreement and invited the association to apply for further funding from Forum Syd from 1998. The institutional support disappeared and the Future Earth moved again, now to a small office for 1.5 employees, on Barnängsgatan in Norra Hammarbyhamnen in Stockholm. Just a few years later, the association moved into the Solidarity House, a block away where Framtidsjorden still has its office.
The Future Earth ceased having volunteers at the organization in the mid-1990s and during the 2000s retained only Swedish coordinators located in Brazil, Chile and India. They were part of the Swedish office and worked with project coordination, communication and network planning. In 1999, the internship programme was initiated, since then it has had various shapes, sizes and often in collaboration with either Färnebo Folk community college or Bishop Arnö community college . The basic form of the business has been that 10 to 16 young people between the ages of 20 and 30 have undergone preparatory training in Sweden and then practiced with a network member for five months and it has ended with an information project in Sweden.
2009 Future Earth got program agreement with Forum Syd and the opportunity to apply for three years at a time. Since then, one program has been implemented in Asia and another in South America.
In conjunction with the increased size of the association Future Earth sought membership in the Swedish Fundraising Control and opened a 90 account for the collection.
The network had a 2010 Grand Meeting in Trichy, Tamil Nadu, India, organized by < span style = “font-weight: 400;”> Kudumbam . All members in India and Sri Lanka participated, 16 of the organizations from South America and ten Swedish friend groups. The meeting dealt with internal democracy and the structure of the network. Parts of the network felt that the Swedish association had too much influence over the other regions. Therefore, it was decided that each region should decide independently how it is organized, memberships and activities.
The association and the international network continue to develop. There are new members and others are disappearing. Many fantastic results have been achieved, while the threats are getting worse. Under the tab Our business you can read more about today’s operations in Asia, Latin America and Sweden. There is also more information about network members in Asia and Latin America.