Unexpectedly for me, a physician-researcher from Erasmus University gives an introduction on the impact of heat on the elderly. This turns out to be a European-level study. With selected client groups and qualitative interviews. That's just how you set up good research. But parallel research is also taking place in Italy. It is striking that quite a lot of elderly people actually like the heat in a certain sense because bones seem to function easier and better and pain is less with rheumatic diseases. Heat waves are not all negative.
I digitally participate in the autumn conference of INGOs in Strasbourg attached to the Council of Europe, where a multitude of topics pass by. Among them is this
Health and Human Rights Committee. More than 300 NGOs are members of this conference and Marienburg is part of European Network Church On the Move. With Spaniards Luis Angel Aguilar, Hugo Castelli and Frenchman Fernand Jehl, we are experiencing parts of the conference. I had planned to be there physically, but my responsibility for the Voedselbank Haaglanden in the food crisis keeps me in the Netherlands. In the next session, I do an intervention, which is digitally rather complicated and requires waiting for turns. The spontaneity does wane a bit. The Human Rights and Refugees Committee is doing a report on the situation in Europe. It talks a lot about pushback and rights violations. I report on the situation in the Netherlands and the mess in ter Apel and the failing policy. Also, the support of the churches that has been blocked by COA for weeks according to Inlia. It is striking that the committee reacts somewhat surprised and people are very keen to know what the situation is. The Netherlands has managed to keep these violations nicely out of the European circuit apparently.
Attention to current affairs is very much there. The Ukrainian ambassador is invited and he is greeted with standing applause from the physically present members. He calls for a tribunal to be set up for war crimes committed by Russia. This is of course very appropriate, as more and more is coming out. But it strikes me that the frame is nevertheless to support Ukraine exclusively. There is no room for any criticism of Ukraine at this point. Look, for instance, at the playing away with great spectacle of Amnesty International's report on controversial methods of struggle. In other words , I dare not intervene on this because the dominance and pro-Ukraine frame is too big. The Council of Ministers also expelled Russia from the Council of Europe months ago. Not really wise, as diplomatic channels must remain if peace is ever to be achieved again. For instance, there was a European Mayors' Consultation in which Russian mayors participated. The last time I was there physically, I talked about one of them too. The Council has always talked about Europe as a whole including Russia precisely because it is not a political body. During the session, I had to note that nobody talks about peace and how to achieve it anymore. A small support protest for Iranian women outside the meeting room was not allowed to go ahead for security reasons. I don't know how to place this. You miss the corridors tremendously then to find out what the true motives around many issues are.
Back to the Human Rights and Health Committee for a hopeful conclusion. Paolo Barnabo is introducing a kind of green competition between schools in Italy about who is the greenest. Energy teams competing with each other with prizes every year at the end and a really developed smart meter to see how far you have come a
s a school. It worked and works like a charm. I asked for information about that smartmeter.
To conclude, I like to point out the brand new BePart Participation Project. It develops a digital map on which hopeful and promising projects can be found around as many Council of Europe themes as possible. Take a look at https://bepartforum.org/
The next session is in April and I hope to be there physically then, because you can say what you want, but Europe is alive.
Henk Baars 10 October 2022
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)