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NGOs before G20 summit: Lots of demands – and fear of violence

As of: 10/29/2021 8:47 a.m.

Rome is preparing for the G20 summit with thousands of security forces: 10,000 demonstrators are expected on Saturday alone. Non-governmental organizations emphasize their rejection of violence in advance.

By Lisa Weiß, ARD-Studio Rome

Many streets have already been cordoned off with colored tape, police cars drive in columns to the La Nuvola congress center in the south of Rome: They practice the arrival of the summit participants, a kind of dress rehearsal. Jörn Kalinski from the emergency aid and development organization Oxfam has just arrived from Berlin. He wants to have another look around here before it really starts. But he will not sit at the table with the representatives of the G20 countries. His organization tried in advance to convince the G20 states of their ideas with studies, position papers and personal meetings – in other words, to exert an indirect influence on the negotiations.

Sometimes it works more, sometimes less, says Kalinski. But it is important, because the G20 countries have a great responsibility. After all, they are the countries that consume the most CO2 and thus accelerate climate change: “We need a strong positive signal from them to the climate conference in Glasgow. The previous CO2 reduction targets are nowhere near enough,” said Kalinski.

The “La Nuvola” conference building of the G20 summit is closely guarded – scenes like those in Hamburg 2017 should not be repeated.

Image: AFP

Lots of small organizations active

Helping poorer countries deal with the consequences of climate change, distributing corona vaccines more fairly – the list of concerns is long. And not only Oxfam, as a large, internationally active NGO, wants to do something against the climate crisis. Many smaller organizations are also present in the vicinity of the summit.

The Italian environmental NGO Terra, for example. Your spokesman, Francesco Paniè, welcomes you to a small, crowded office in downtown Rome. His expectations of the summit are low, he believes in weak declarations of intent rather than real efforts to halt climate change. “The G20 summit is an exclusive, exclusive event. It does not take into account the countries that are most severely affected by climate change and hunger. This is unacceptable for us and that is why we are protesting against the summit itself,” says Paniè.

“It is not possible that decisions are made here that affect the whole world. We are holding a demo, together with social movements, trade unions and NGOs. And we hope that our message will reach those in power in the world.”

Avoid pictures like those from Genoa and Hamburg

Several demonstrations are to take place in Rome over the next few days, and the city is expecting around 10,000 participants on Saturday alone. One fear is that autonomists, anti-vaccination and government opponents, extremists from all camps and climate activists will band together to make a racket. Anyone entering Italy is therefore currently being checked, and the security forces are monitoring relevant groups on social networks.

And the police force in Rome is enormous: police officers should be standing at all important points in the city. The area around the conference center will be cordoned off, and helicopters will monitor Rome from the air. Italy definitely wants to avoid images like 2001 in Genoa, when a demonstrator was shot by a police officer or in 2017 in Hamburg with chaos, riots and looting.

Most of the non-governmental organizations did not want an escalation either, assures Kalinski. “Violence has no place here, violence doesn’t help anyone. We saw it in Hamburg, too: We tried to present our content-related positions and then came the pictures with the burning car tires – and we were out of the media with the content . It is of course always difficult to control something like this in advance. ” The clear position of the NGOs is: no violence.

Demos against the G20 summit – who are the protesters?

Lisa Weiß, BR, currently Rome, October 28, 2021 7:00 p.m.

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