Grassroots Group Seeks to Change the System, One Step at a Time

A grassroots movement in Belgium seeking system change brought together the country’s largest trade union, e-NGOs, anti-poverty groups, eco-entrepreneurs and others. Nick Meynen reports.

At a well-attended launch event in Brussels on Tuesday (November 14), UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights Olivier de Schutter explained why he supports the movement’s demands:

The really poor don’t benefit from subsidies for electric cars or insulation, while they suffer from bad insulation, higher rent and more exposure to pollution. That economic system needs to change

The motivated activists have had enough of baby steps and fake solutions to the existential crisis that we are going through. ‘More Than Enough’ demands real change to our economy to achieve better lives for all within planetary boundaries.

The group launched their campaign in English, in addition to the original French and Dutch. Ahead of Belgium’s EU presidency in January–June 2024 and European elections in June 2024, their ambitions reach far beyond the borders of Belgium.

From ‘No alternatives’ to ‘Plenty of alternatives’

After delivering the manifesto to Belgium’s main political parties, representatives of the coalition walked around the Marolles quarter in Brussels, stopping along some promising locations that can help work towards a liveable future for all:

  • a tech-repair store
  • an ethical bank
  • an inclusive bookstore
  • a social cycle-up workshop
  • a community center providing social, medical and psychological support to the local community

The tour concluded with speeches by campaign spokespersons and inspiring guest speakers, such as author Tine Hens.

The environmental debate needs to grow up

Campaign spokesperson Chloé Mikolajczak has been particularly active in recent years as spokespeople for youth fighting against the climate crisis. “Today, the climate and environmental debate must grow up,”- says Chloé. “Politicians must pay attention to all nine planetary boundaries while ensuring no one is left behind. The problem is much broader than the climate problem. For too long, social concerns and ecological issues have been opposed, such as in the Gilet Jaunes [yellow vests] crisis when, really, they are two sides of the same coin.”

“From the left to the right, we hear politicians say there is not enough money, time, or support base to address the combined social and ecological crises. We say: there is. If, and only if, we break free from the current economic business-as-usual. In our manifesto, you will find a hopeful, more realistic alternative than the current collision course, ” Chloé adds.


The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) supports this movement, but this truly is a bottom-up initiative. We merely widened the group of signatories and delivered support in the background. The core group works entirely voluntarily and independently towards our shared goal. All credit goes to the growing community of scholars, artists, activists and other citizens who feel so deeply about the need for a system change that they decided to spend up to hundreds of unpaid hours to get to this point, regardless of government or foundation funding.

Among the many organisations now rallying behind the central manifesto are crucial social players like Belgium’s largest Trade Union ACV/CSC and the anti-poverty network, as well as environmental organisations like Greenpeace, EEB and three Belgian members of the EEB: BBL and CANOPEA (the e-NGO federations in Flanders and Wallonia) and the volunteer grassroots movement CATAPA.

In the run-up to Belgium’s EU presidency and the June 2024 elections that will also take place on Belgium’s federal and regional levels, there is an urgent need for a new political perspective that is both socially hopeful and ecologically realistic. Some innovative political ideas are put forward. For each of the eight demands in the manifesto, the group also has a more detailed fact-filled briefing that can be provided upon request. Their demands include wellbeing as a central policy goal, a drastic reduction in our use of raw materials and a fair distribution of wealth.

All these steps, according to the group’s representatives, are necessary to alleviate the looming crisis and ensure a better future for everyone living on the planet. For this to happen, immediate governmental action is needed. See the manifesto.

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