“It is clear that we need to reduce the impact of tourism, both on the destinations but also the impact of travel to get there.”
Bob Hale is the new Co-Convenor of the Global Greens, a partnership of Green parties and political movements in over 100 countries, arguably the world's largest and fastest growing political family. Bob has over 20 years of experience as a Senior Project Manager managing teams of around 20 people, and has extensive experience negotiating outcomes that are acceptable to all parties. He has a management style that is inclusive and consultative and prides himself in being honest and open in dealings with colleagues. His strengths lie in organisation, coordination, and following through to make sure tasks get done in a timely manner.
Ecoclub: Congratulations on assuming the helm of the Global Greens! In addition to your political experience, your professional expertise as a Senior Project Manager and your specialisation in Health Issues and IT will be great assets during this difficult period. What are your key priorities and the goals that would you like to achieve during your tenure?
Bob Hale: The main issue I would like to address is to get more grass root involvement from our members. With our next congress coming up in 2022 it is important we listen to our members and provide them with the organisational structure they need to succeed in their local political environment.
Ecoclub: Is there a distinctly green set of policies to tackle the pandemic, its worse effects on society and the economy and to avoid a repetition? Do we perhaps need a change in our economic/production/growth model, a system change?
Bob Hale: As we emerge from the worst of the pandemic it is important that economic stimulus provided by governments also helps to address climate change and other environmental issues, as well as social justice issues.
Ecoclub: Sustainable and Responsible Tourism had already become mainstream concepts in the last few years, but during the pandemic, with tourism taking a big hit everyone in the industry is now talking about the need to 'build back better', to avoid excesses and returning to 'Overtourism'. Some in the green movement however tend to dismiss the whole idea of a sustainable tourism industry as impossible. What is your view?
Bob Hale: It is clear that we need to reduce the impact of tourism, both on the destinations but also the impact of travel to get there. The impact of air travel on climate change has not been discussed in depth and is currently excluded from discussions on emissions.
Ecoclub: Australia is the cradle of Green political parties, and, probably no coincidence, is also a global leader in Ecotourism with a trusted ecotourism certification system and quality academic institutions offering sustainable tourism degrees. How green is Australia's domestic and international Tourism in your view and what key changes can be applied during and after the pandemic to make it greener?
Bob Hale: I am not aware of certification of ecotourism in Australia. There are certainly many companies who claim to “tread lightly” etc but there are many more building luxury accommodation in environmentally sensitive areas. As tourism restarts it will be very tempting to open up more areas and override or ignore environmental protections.
Ecoclub: Is the sharing economy a trap, or a solution, an escape from wage slavery self-employment? Is it inherently greener through the lack of big hierarchical structures? And how about the tourism sharing economy?
Bob Hale: I am afraid I do not know enough about the sharing economy to comment.
Ecoclub: The first decade of the 21st century saw the rise of far-right populism and even neo-nazism in Europe and other regions. Some still unjustly consider or portray the Greens as a single-issue movement, however a growing number of voters look up to the Greens as the antithesis, the true resistance to the Far-Right in virtually all issues. Do Greens need to build on this, and take clearer, more advanced positions for example to stand for Open Borders?
Bob Hale: Some still see the Greens as single issue environment parties, but only if you don’t dig very deep. As progressive parties, we need to ensure that all our policy platforms are recognised and promoted. Of course small parties just starting out will not be able to cover all policies, but as they grow and develop they have mentors from other larger more established parties, as well as the Global Greens Charter to guide them.
Ecoclub: The status quo has the tendency of appropriating any practical, radical idea and the associated vocabulary, and applying it in a de-radicalised way. Do you see this happening with green ideas? Are they in danger of becoming a victim of their own success? When every multinational, major news network and political party is talking 24/7 about the Climate Crisis, what should the Greens do to be heard? Complain about the hypocrisy of others or move to new, radical positions?
Bob Hale: It is important that greens policies are based on science, and are seen to be based in science by voters. Especially with climate change there is a lot of talk of targets and future goals by the old parties, but the greens are the ones who can legitimately stand by their policies that we have been promoting for years, if not decades.
Ecoclub: We may live in a globalised world, but the Global Greens are the only surviving, international and united political family with a true global presence and power. True to green principles, there is no Comintern-style 'democratic centralism' but devolution, one observes there is a great range of Member parties judging from their economic policies, on the right (e.g. Mexico), the centre (Germany?) and the Left (e.g. United States). Is this an accurate assessment? Is pluralism a disadvantage or an advantage?
Bob Hale: The greens are a grassroots organisation and certainly made up of varied groups and opinions. Sometimes politicians get swept up in populist sentiments and policies but with the charter we are able to guide them as appropriate. So overall it is a definite advantage that each party can focus on what is relevant for them at the moment, knowing that what binds us together is the Charter and the fact that this is the baseline by which all parties are guided.
Ecoclub: We thank you for your insight and wish you well in your new important duties. Hopefully the green movement and the green tourism movement will improve, expand and deepen their mutual awareness and cooperation during your tenure.