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Rosa van Driel leaves FMS after 4.5 years

Rosa van Driel has decided to leave the FMS for CARE Netherlands after 4.5 years, to work as a climate lobbyist for fair international climate policy. Of course, we couldn't just let this pass us by, which is why we held the following farewell interview with her:

How did you ever join the FMS?
I joined the FMS in 2017. I was studying in Glasgow at the time. I was doing a Masters there and actually wanted to do an internship, and came across FMS through OneWorld. I didn't know FMS, but saw the internship focused on policy coherence and political lobbying, and applied for it. In fact, I was so enthusiastic about it that I then - a tad mistakenly - caught a plane from Glasgow to the Netherlands to do that interview. Maybe that helped, because that's how I got hired! My internship supervisor left FMS halfway through my internship, and then I was able to take over some work, which eventually resulted in a permanent contract.

Describe the FMS in three words
Warm, equitable and constructive-activist. Warm, because that is the feeling I get when I think of the FMS as an organisation: both the FMS itself, and the network around it, such as all civil society organisations, but also all trainers associated with the FMS. Just, because everyone within the FMS is looking for how we can make the world a little fairer for all of us. And constructive-activist, because we all love activism, but in a constructive way, as you can see in our partnerships.

What expectations did you have of working at the FMS, and did they come true?
Above all, I expected it to be very challenging in terms of content, and I wanted to learn through the FMS what it was like to work in a professional organisation, and all the work that goes with it. And I was keen to combine my studies, a Bachelor's in Political Science and a Master's in Human Rights and International Politics, in practice. Then you quickly end up with a lobbying position in the NGO sector, and there weren't actually that many internships offering that kind of position. My expectations certainly came true, which is why I went from being an intern to becoming an employee. I found the 'learning to work' super fun, but I could also really appreciate the whole political aspect.

What aspects of working at FMS have surprised you the most?
It may not necessarily be surprising or astonishing, but I could really appreciate being part of the PvdA party office, but having your own voice and a 'louse in the fur' function there, I found that very interesting. You can both exert influence, e.g. while writing election programmes, and see how things work inside the party office. I wasn't a PvdA member beforehand either, so it may have surprised me somewhere that I started to feel so connected to the PvdA. I also very much believe in international solidarity as an important core value of social democracy. I will always include that in my career path from now on. The slowness of the international network also surprised me, especially the bureaucracy involved and the different interests that have to be taken into account. So those are things I do think: How nice it would be to work in a commercial company, haha. And also all the people I have met through our large network have often surprised and inspired me. All the trainers, all the people we work with for Africa Day, all the NGOs and all the politicians. 

What will you miss most about the FMS?
I am going to miss the whole diverse network of the FMS, soon I will be part of an international confederation, but focusing within it on a more specific theme. The FMS has a very broad network, from an international network, to trainers, to all the Africa Day volunteers, to NGOs and politicians. That broad network was very instructive.

What is the most enjoyable trip you have taken for FMS?
The most fun training was the last training before Corona. That was gender training, which I did together with Thijs 't Hart. It was about how to include gender equality in your organisation. The combination of Thijs, someone with a lot of political experience and knowledge, and me, a young woman, worked very well to show how important it is to include young women in organisations. This combination made the training come across as very credible. And the place, Rabat, was of course also very nice and beautiful.

What did you like most about working at FMS and what did you like less?
So what I enjoyed most was the super diversity of work, from organising Africa Day to doing research and political lobbying. At the same time, I also missed being able to throw myself into one subject; the lack of time to really immerse myself in one subject. At the FMS, I was able to orientate myself very well on different topics, which is precisely why I can now focus on one of the more enjoyable things in my new job.

What is the thing you have done in your time at FMS that you are most proud of?
I think I am most proud of 2 things. 1) I got to organise the Africa Day twice. The first time was successful, but the second time we had to cancel the Africa Day two weeks in advance due to Corona. I am very proud of myself and the team how flexible and resilient we dealt with that. 2) I have obviously done a lot of work over the past year for Building Change (A partnership between FMS, Partos and Woord & Daad) around policy coherence and the SDGs in the Netherlands. From the beginning, I have been working on introducing the SDG test, that Dutch policies should be checked for achieving the SDGs, both in the Netherlands and in other countries. I am very proud of the fact that Building Change has managed to make such a beautiful tool, which could potentially have a lot of impact, politically relevant.

What are the most important lessons you have learnt working within this field?
The most important thing I learned is that change really takes super long. And that politics is incredibly slow, even though politicians move really fast and are always really busy. But getting something through politically effectively takes a really long time. I can imagine people getting very despondent about that, but I think I know how to celebrate the small successes. For example, the introduction of such an SDG test, but also when motions relevant to us are tabled and/or adopted. I got a lot of energy from those small victories. So hold that long breath, and eventually you will notice a difference.

What exactly are you going to do?
I will be working as a lobbyist on climate adaptation at CARE Netherlands, an aid organisation whose projects aim to make vulnerable countries resilient to the effects of climate change. There is quite a lot of momentum for this at the moment and the Netherlands is also quite a frontrunner in this field. At the same time, the Netherlands does not even meet the international agreements on climate support for developing countries. I want to work to change that.

What do you hope to achieve as CARE's climate lobbyist?
That the Netherlands keeps its commitments and its fair share meets to contribute to international climate support, and that this also targets the countries that need it most, and also the people within those countries that need it most. And I think it is important that this is not only done by large international organisations, but rather in collaboration with local partners.

What experiences and knowledge will you take with you from FMS towards your new job?
We, as FMS, have of course also conducted a survey: Climate Justice: African Perspectives & EU Policies, which also focuses on these kinds of themes, so that is the substantive baggage I can take with me. And through my work at Building Change, I already know a lot of organisations working on this theme. Moreover, I naturally have a political network, so my lobbying experience towards MPs will come in handy in my new job. 

We will miss Rosa very much at FMS, but wish her every success in her new job. We will certainly continue to see each other where the work of FMS and CARE overlap.

Interview by Dorine klein Gunnewiek