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A sailing protest heading towards Rostock

The Finnish Fair Trade sailing ship Estelle, running on windpower and locally produced biodiesel, left Helsinki on Sunday after 8 pm accompanied with an anti-G8 demonstration. The journey to Rostock takes more or less one week – depending on the wind. In Rostock, the vessel campaigns for a fairer world and serves as one of the venues for the G8 alternative summit.

Support 2nd June G8 Demonstration

S/v Estelle’s campaign tour of the summer 2007 started in Helsinki, where the ship participates in the World Village festival, the biggest multicultural city festival in Finland. Estelle’s tour promotes Fair Trade and highlights the links between environmental sustainability and social justice in particular. The first stop after Helsinki will be Rostock, where Estelle participates in the alternative summit that takes place parallel to the official G8 meeting in a close-by holiday resort of Heiligendamm.

“The diversity of the planned seminars, workshops and other events is truly inspiring. New forms and practices of social organization, democratic decision-making and alternative economics are growing from the grass-roots level. Rostock will be one of the places where these initiatives meet. The events are not only for protesting, but for creativity and for building up a better world” comments Jyri Jaakkola, responsible for Estelle’s own workshop on Fair Trade and social self-organisation, which will be organised together with the German Café Libertad collective, an importer of Zapatista coffee from Mexico.

The alternative summit is organised by a wide platform of NGOs and social movements. Along with the panels with invited speakers, there will be over 120 workshops, part of which take place at Estelle. Moreover, the movement that seeks alternatives for the G8’s neoliberal policies is presented in various informal meetings and actions ranging from demonstrations to concerts and other cultural events.

Among the many issues dealt with during the summit days, Fair Trade, developing country debt and ecological sustainability are on top of Estelle’s agenda. The interconnectedness of the issues is clarified with the concept of ecological debt.

“All the debts of the developing countries have already been paid, because the Northern models of consumption and production are built on the exploitation of cheap resources from the global South. Our lifestyle causes destruction of local livelihoods in developing countries due to wastes, pollution, degradation of ecosystems and climate change. The debt question is more meaningful when we ask, how much we, the industrialized countries, owe to the global South for the environmental destruction we have caused” says Elina Toivonen, the tour co-ordinator sailing with Estelle.

Besides participating in workshops and public debates, the Estelle crew is engaged in promoting ecological sustainability and social justice through practical work and daily choices. The ship has been renovated into sailing condition over the years largely by volunteer work and recycled materials. She has also delivered a cargo of 300 m2 of humanitarian aid to war-mangled Angola bringing back locally produced handicrafts and cultural items. During the on-going summer tour, Estelle gives a practical example encouraging the use of renewable energy. The ship runs on windpower and biodiesel produced by Finnish small-scale producers.

“Biofuels do offer one way of fighting against the climate change. However, there is a great risk of the business being dominated of by big transnational corporations, which create a lot of other environmental and social problems especially in developing countries,” says Jaakkola and continues: “To become sustainable, the production of biofuels must be controlled by local communities and targeted towards local needs, not driven by search of profits on world markets. Otherwise they just increase our ecological debt to developing countries.”

More information on the G8 alternative summit:

- – s/v Estelle in a nutshell – -

Estelle is a Finnish sailing ship specialized in Fair Trade and development co-operation purposes as well as awareness-raising on related issues. Between mid-eighties and mid-nineties, she was renovated practically from a wreck into sailing condition largely by volunteer work and using recycled materials. In 2002, she visited Angola delivering a cargo of humanitarian aid and bringing back handicrafts from local small-scale producers.

Estelle is 53 meters long and has a cargo capacity of 220 tons / 317 cubic meters. She is the biggest sailing ship operating as a merchant vessel in Europe. This makes her one of the most environmentally sound means of transportation when crossing seas – as well as a great tool in reaching people directly in awareness-raising purposes.

s/v Estelle

e-mail: project2007@estelle.fi
Homepage: http://www.estelle.fi