Foreldreløftet and its journey as a parent-led climate organization in Norway
From Tønsberg, Norway, Veslemøy Klavenes-Berge is a mother of two young boys, 7 and 10 years old. For 10 years, Klavenes-Berge worked as a geophysicist in the oil and gas industry. After losing her job in 2015, she took the challenge as an opportunity to forge a new path for herself.
Klavenes-Berge began exploring the world of sustainability. Starting her own company called Bycause, Klavenes-berge began leading workshops while offering consulting in sustainability. She later joined the University of South-Eastern Norway as a project manager in sustainability and at OceanTherm as an advisor, a company that researches ways to prevent hurricanes.
Klavenes-Berge discovered her true passion when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report in 2018 on the effects of global warming. She began reading up on the report, the United Nations sustainability goals, and all things climate change. “I knew there was no turning back. I just have to focus on [climate change],” she said.
Klavenes-Berge wanted to become a climate activist. For her, fighting climate change was not just about reducing global greenhouse gas emissions but also about saving the place that her kids called home.
She asked herself, “How do we answer our children when they ask us what we did about climate change?”
In 2019, Klavenes-Berge leapt into action. She attended the Climate Reality Leadership Corps activist training hosted by the Climate Reality Project in Atlanta, Georgia in March. Joining activists from all over the world, she met people like Frida Berry Eklund, who leads the growing parent organization called Our Kids’ Climate, and Al Gore, the well-known American politician and environmentalist.
When she returned to Norway, Klavenes-Berge wanted to build a climate movement especially aimed at parents. “My first thought was, ‘Oh, I will teach somebody about starting [a climate organization].’ And then the next thought was, ‘Okay, maybe that’s me,’” she said, after realizing it was up to her to take action. Inspired by those she met in Atlanta, she gathered a small group of interested parents and adults and they started Foreldreløftet later that year.
Foreldreløftet, or Parent’s Pledge in English, is a grassroots organization that works to unite and inspire members of the adult generation in Norway to become climate activists. They host and support climate events while calling parents to demand change in both politics and their workplaces to strive towards a cleaner future. Recently, their organization joined the Global Climate Pledge as a national partner from Norway. Klavenes-Berge believes Foreldreløftet and the Global Climate Pledge inherently reinforce each other.
“We have this pledge and the point is to reach the people who would not normally go out to march in the streets. We want to reach them because they are parents and because they want what’s best for their children in the future,” Klavenes-Berge said, “I strongly believe that if you make people do a pledge, that helps.”
Foreldreløftet believes that doing something, even something small, still has a large impact globally. “The most important thing is to show that we are doing something,” stated Klavenes-Berge.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Foreldreløftet continues to organize and plan events remotely. Currently, they are planning to partner with a local school and environmental organization to create a bee sanctuary. Bee sanctuaries are bee habitats built with pollinator-friendly plants to support local bee populations.
Foreldreløftet hopes to gain even more traction among parents as families get outside, spend more time together, and travel less. Klavenes-Berge believes the current pandemic will propel the world into a cleaner and more environmentally-aware future. “I think that it’s so important to see all the positive things which are happening among all the bad things,” she explained.
Foreldreløftet not only focuses on the changes people can make at the individual level, but they also target structural and societal change too. Klavenes-Berge wants parents to think outside the home when being climate activists. As a mother herself, she realizes parents are already busy enough. But, she says they can still affect change in different ways such as talking to their employers about green initiatives or getting politically engaged.
“[There are] too many people thinking that ‘Oh, I wish somebody did something about this,’ or ‘I wish somebody started something.’ Instead of just thinking that, just start something. Just do it and realize how much power each of us really has,” she explained.
While Klavenes-Berge came from an industry riddled with fossil fuels, she said making the shift into sustainability and climate change activism has been one of her proudest moments. “Going from desperately trying to come back to [the oil and gas industry] to finding that the world is full of possibilities. That is what I’m most proud of. I have found a new, very much better, path for me,” she said gratefully.
Klavenes-Berge continues to engage more and more people in Foreldreløftet everyday. She has found that, “What is most important now in everything that I do is to get people excited and optimistic about this huge challenge that we have and get excited about saving the world.”
Photos courtesy of Veslemøy Klavenes-Berge.