Mar 062018

See also:  The man behind Avaaz, Ricken Patel, Canadian  (Interview, CNN, plus article, The Economist)


From: Ricken Patel – Avaaz

Subject: You won’t BELIEVE what happened at Avaaz this week…



Dear Avaaz,

It really is unbelievable what this movement gets done, in an *ordinary* week!! Just try scrolling down to get a snapshot…


Colombian Deputy Minister receives Avaaz petition delivery last week 🙂

We may have won our campaign to stop Colombia’s massive deforestation!

The team and members brought a million-strong petition (and several cute kids) to a key minister this week, and got 42 election candidates signed on to our 5-point forest pledge! After satellite pictures we obtained showed massive deforestation in Colombia, the President flew over the land we were campaigning for, and it looks like we’re going to win! Here’s an update (in Spanish) from Ana Sofia.

Who wouldn’t want to protect this?

We might help win the largest ocean reserve in the Atlantic!

Last week we met with the key official pushing this ocean-saving plan at the Ministry of Environment in Brazil. As we entered the room, they were looking at the final draft of the project and the official told us: “We need Avaaz to win this! When are you launching this campaign?!” The minister actually wanted our help to win over the rest of the Cabinet and the President! Video update from Diego (in Portuguese) here.

Our fake far-right leader on his fake tour of southern Italy got over 100 media hits!

We worked our hearts out to stop a far-right win in Italy!

With a fascist-led coalition close to winning the election on Sunday, we were flat-out for a month — reaching millions of voters in close races over email, on Facebook, and in the media, asking them to cooperate across a splintered opposition, and vote for the candidate most likely to defeat the far-right. Our polling showed our impact, and Avaaz was constantly attacked in the right-wing press (e.g. here and here) and our Senior Campaigner Luca got threatening phone calls.

The election largely turned on the South, so last week we also staged a hilarious fake tour of the South by the far-right leader — who once said Southerners smelled worse than dogs — that generated over 100 media articles! Examples here, here and here, and here’s an update from Luca (in Italian). The media likes to hype the fascists, but the result was a clean sweep of the south and the far-right coalition is FAR short of the majority we feared!

We got Monsanto backpedaling on their monster subpoena

We tried to get Monsanto’s lawyers to listen to reason when their subpoena demanded every record we had that mentioned them, but they told us to get lost! So with the donations of 135,000 members last month, we hired top-notch lawyers to file an official challenge. Last week, Monsanto’s attorneys agreed NOT to seek members’ private data. That’s HUGE! But we’ve still got to defeat the rest of their awful subpoena.

…And we’re at the centre of their monster merger attempt

Monsanto and Bayer are trying to merge into a megacorporation, and Avaaz is the only civil society group that received official “third party” status in the EU regulator’s process. Our team and lawyers we hired (after members donated for it!) have been filing complicated briefs and meeting with regulators — the signs are not good that we can win this, but we’re pushing hard! Watch the update from Nick here.

Our mobile billboards outside Senator Rubio’s office in Florida.

We seized the moment in the US on gun control

After the awful school shooting, the Avaaz team, led by Emma, Nell and Dalia, mobilised in 24 hours to point the finger at top gun-lobby money recipient Senator Marco Rubio. Playing off the famous movie, we ran 3 billboards outside his office and he was forced to respond to them! The billboards got a crazy amount of media attention across the US and the world — e.g. CNN, Washington Post, Huff Post, Libération, Il Post. Now we’re planning another massive demo for next week, with thousands of shoes on the front lawn of the Capitol building, representing kids killed by guns. Here’s a video update from Dalia.

African leaders about to sign our petition to ban ivory!

Bert and Sarah are deep in planning right now for an Avaaz-led session at a big summit next week where African leaders, led by Botswana — home to more elephants than anywhere else — will sign our petition to the EU to ban ivory! This is huge because the EU claimed African leaders didn’t want them to do it! Now they’re out of excuses :). See a video update from Bert here.

Ivory “antiques” we bought last week for testing…

And we’re getting ivory tested in a lab!

We received another shipment of ivory “antiques” last week, paid for by Avaazer donations, that we’re sending on to be tested at Oxford University. If we can prove that they’re not in fact antique but from recently killed elephants, we’ll really knock down all Europe’s excuses and press them to join the rest of the world in banning all ivory! A huge step in the race to save elephants from extinction. Check out our latest acquisitions with Spyro here.

We’ll bring Bernie, our giant inflatable bee, to Brussels for the final vote.

We’re gearing up for Europe’s final battle to save the bees

We’re in the final mile to win a permanent ban on bee-killing poisons in Europe! Antonia is talking to EU politicians and scientists in Germany, Belgium and the UK to organise a briefing for decision-makers, and over the weekend Dutch Avaazers pressured their government to fall in line with this viral campaign. We’re also getting a new study underway. The final vote could be as soon as March 22nd! Video update from Antonia here.

An example of a photo in our Yemen photo exhibition at the US Senate this week. (Photo by Yahya Arhad/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

We may finally have a way to stop the horror in Yemen

Nick’s been in meetings for weeks getting ready to help launch an awesome left-right coalition in the US against the war in Yemen! It launched a bill last week that could lead to the first time in 50 years that Congress stopped the President waging a war! We’re flying witnesses in, and hosting a photo exhibit from Yemen for Senators this week. Our video with children from Yemen has over 6 million views! And in London, we’ll greet the Saudi crown prince this week with a massive die-in. Video update from Nick here.

Fadi had to drive through tear gas to meet Ahed Tamimi’s family…

We’re fiercely advocating on behalf of Ahed Tamimi and Palestinian children in detention

Last week Fadi drove through clouds of tear gas to sit in Ahed’s living room and plan a children’s march with her family, after 9 more children in the village were arrested. Then he persuaded the minister of education to support the march! We’ve also recruited 38 famous lawyers and judges to sign an open letter to Roni Nuna, the Israeli military commander. And our donations continue to support Ahed’s and other Palestinians’ legal defense. See a video update from Fadi here.

We’re investigating Trump around the world

The evidence is mounting that Trump is as dirty as they come, especially relying on laundered or corrupt funds to bail out failing businesses. US investigators are pursuing, but Trump’s corrupt empire is global, so Alex, Alaphia and Meetali are investigating his dealings in 9 countries and advocating with authorities to follow suit. Last week we flew an expert to meet with prosecutors in a key country (they don’t want to be named yet) who are close to launching a probe!

A still image from a video we funded to expose and shut down a slaughterhouse.

We’re gunning to shut down more slaughterhouses!

The undercover investigations we all funded got 2 huge slaughterhouses closed! Even McDonald’s is suing one after footage of cows writhing in pain came out (SWR, Focus). And we got another one closed and investigated in December (Süddeutsche Zeitung, BusinessInsider). We’ve been talking with the investigations teams last week to scope who’s next! Check out Antonia’s update here.

We’re getting traction for a new vision of how to save the world

We attended a major strategy meeting of hundreds of top environmentalists in London this week. Alice was asked to speak in the final plenary, and helped inspire the group on the bold new vision and goal of protecting half the earth for nature. She schemed with allies and strategised key scientific studies to fund and ministers to persuade (we’ve already met ministers and officials in Paris, London, Bogota and Brasilia). And we got results yesterday from a poll we ran showing 2/3rds of the UK public support this vision! Watch an update from Alice here.

We’re failing to run a campaign on Syria 🙁

Last week Rewan and Allison did their best to launch campaigns on the carnage on Syria, with one focusing on an unprecedented vote of the UN General Assembly, and another on threatening Russia’s World Cup, but our community didn’t love them enough to get the green light. If Avaaz members don’t LOVE a campaign, it doesn’t happen, and because the standard is so high, about half the time our campaigns don’t make the cut! E.g. Another campaign that failed last week was an open letter to the CEO of Monsanto. We’ll keep trying!

We pressed governments to tackle fake news effectively

Diego, Laura and Ricken had meetings with officials with both the French and Brazilian governments who are drafting laws to deal with the massive threat to democracy posed by fake news and disinformation campaigns, which 85% of Avaazers are concerned about. We shared results of polling Avaaz members on solutions, and sent them memos on the solutions most popular with Avaazers that both fix the problem and avoid government overreach. You can read our Brazilian memo here.

A poster for our meatless campaign.

And believe it or not, SO MUCH MORE!!! —

  • Lisa emailed the 530,000 Avaazers who signed our “Eat less meat” pledge with next steps. 94% are keeping their promise!
  • European Parliament members circulated our Monsanto email to 189 MEPs! They invited Avaaz to come speak to them about this and other issues like fake news.
  • Nana went to the Brazilian congress to interview women leaders and make a video for our campaign encouraging more women to run for office in elections this year.
  • Christoph and René continued our campaign to help get a strong platform and coalition for the new German government, including targeted advertising and messages from members.
  • Alex and others are intensively lobbying MPs in the UK Parliament on an amendment to require a vote on the next Brexit deal, and also aiming for a second referendum.
  • Etc. 🙂


And seriously, that’s a pretty normal week.

It’s a shame that Avaaz members can only see a tiny sliver of all this. But please know that the team is incredibly grateful for this ridiculously wonderful movement — ALL of this is thanks to ALL of us — Thank You!!!!!!

With huge gratitude,

Ricken, Pascal, Marigona, Camille, Martyna, Fatima, Danny, Lisa, Spyro, Meetali, Alice, Emma, Ana Sofia, Christoph, René, Patri, Pati, Alex and the rest of the Avaaz team

Avaaz is a 46-million-person global campaign network
that works to ensure that the views and values of the world’s people shape global decision-making. (“Avaaz” means “voice” or “song” in many languages.) Avaaz members live in every nation of the world; our team is spread across 18 countries on 6 continents and operates in 17 languages. Learn about some of Avaaz’s biggest campaigns here, or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

You became a member of the Avaaz movement and started receiving these emails when you signed “Message to World Leaders” on 2007-03-12

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