In September I attended the INF World Congress at Drumshanbo, County Leitrim, Ireland as the BN delegate. (Please see the italics at the end of the article for an explanation of the mechanics of the congress) Overall, the congress was very useful and many important subjects were progressed with enthusiasm. From BN’s perspective there were many more positive than negative outcomes and, most importantly, ways forward were agreed. The congress covered a wide range of issues, so my apologies for jumping around. This report covers the most important issues for BN only. Probably the most important result for BN was that our motion to amend the statutes (constitution), received unanimous approval. This was: To add ‘Protecting against threats to Naturism’ to the purposes of the INF/FNI organisation, as defined by the statutes. This is important because its inclusion means that action and budget planning no longer has to be accompanied by justification as to why we should be taking the action and can concentrate on delivery.
At the previous congress two years ago in Croatia, BN were successful in getting the preparation of an INF action plan agreed. Whilst this has taken some time, the two-year ‘Working Plan’ has been produced and it contains clear actions and budgets. The plan was often referred to during congress and we also had a workshop session where separate groups progressed the subject of inappropriate censorship. Responsibilities have begun to be allocated and BN needs to do its part in stepping forward to help. I will be identifying these volunteer opportunities over the next few weeks, but some are clear already. It must be realised that the INF board are only five volunteers spread very widely. They have a part time secretary for just nine hours a week. Hence they are smaller than most federations (including BN) and they can only develop with the assistance of additional enthusiastic volunteers.
Other positive outcomes:
• BN’s proposal to explore the feasibility of a management forum to progress actions and share information will be trialled using an existing Canadian platform at no cost. It was agreed that English would be the main language.
• Hungary is to lead on compiling an agreed list of expected Naturist behaviour guidelines and they have produced a first draft. BN will input.
• The marketing strategy needs to be more ‘professional’ and clearly focused and formalised in a plan. This is to be led by the Rest of the
World CC rep, but I pledged BN assistance, so if you can help progress this, please contact me.
• A Brazilian proposal to add Spanish as a fourth official language was modified, at my suggestion, to cover key promotional and website material only. Thus it is fairly low effort, but potentially high impact.
• ‘Naturist lifestyle as a right’ to be added to the Working Plan and France will lead.
• The congress was very successful for the Irish Naturist Association. They achieved much credibility, lots of positive press and quite a few new members. Some of my press contributions were printed, but not credited. There was also an interest in developing Naturism in Northern Ireland that BN will be engaging with. The illegality of Naturism in Ireland was shown to be without basis and a serious handicap to their tourism in particular. The various reports included some interesting feedback:
• The INF’s finances are very healthy and well managed and audited (actually ‘checked’, as are BN’s). The many challenging questions asked were well answered. The budgets for each of the next two years are based on the Working Plan and were approved. This includes a modest planned ‘loss’ in 2016.
• All federations are experiencing reduced membership numbers. BN’s
membership reductions are a little less than the others. We all have the
same challenges! • France are prioritising defending Naturism in the media and heavily funding it. They asked to share experiences.
• Canada has started to phase out their printed magazine, but this is not
progressing well for them and they are reviewing it.
• The Dutch reported on their successful challenge to the basis for
categorisation of a traditional Naturist beach. This had cost them a very large amount as they had used the best lawyer for this, but it was a vital
principle, so a significant result for European Naturism. They agreed to
produce a summary in the three INF languages.
• Spain has taken four city councils to their Supreme Court over anti-Naturism byelaws (ongoing)
There was a significant disappointment:
• The Spanish motion to allocate an annual budget to create a legal fund, strongly supported by BN, was defeated. Although there was support from almost half of the delegates, this result was mainly due to the lack of
details for implementation. The INF CC asked Spain to lead the ‘Protecting
Naturism’ Working Plan action and to work to draft the detail for managing
a future legal fund. BN help will be required, so if you can help progress
this, please contact me.
Italy and New Zealand both proposed themselves to host the next World Congress in 2016. New Zealand had had major help from their tourist board and regional councils and had produced much excellent proposal material. INF funding implications were worked through and a satisfactory solution agreed. New Zealand won the secret ballot by161 to 40 votes. With the INF’s funding assistance this will not cost BN any more than attending a European location. Elections: INF EC, Vice-President- Secretariat:
Secret ballot: Mick Ayers (Spain) 63, Jean Peters (Luxembourg) 138.
Mick Ayers was thanked for 14 years of service on the CC/EC and received a standing ovation.
INF CC, Assessor Europe: Bernd Huijser (Netherlands) was standing down.
Secret ballot: Christophe Muller (Germany) 43, Garmt Kolhorn (Netherlands president) 158 Law Council: The existing three were all elected unanimously.
Auditors (checkers): The existing two, plus one reserve, were all elected unanimously.Background to the congress mechanics: 22 (of 30) federations were represented, and in total about 130 attended the congress. The meetings are open to any INF cardcarrying member, but only a single delegate from each federation, plus the INF committee of 5** (sometimes joined by the legal and audit teams when requested) can speak. There is simultaneous translation via microphones and earpieces between the three official languages of German, French and English. Only the 22 delegates can vote, and voting strength is based on the size of membership. BN is the fourth largest federation with 15 votes out of a total of 201 present. Apart from the Europeans, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa (new), Canada and Brazil were represented. The congress consists of two nine-hour days of reports, motions and elections and is fast-paced, lively and very challenging. It is anything but cosy, and input needs to be concise, assertive and supportable. The two main days are preceded by an afternoon where the press are invited, which is less intense and this Congress included a debate about Naturist tourism and other promotional messages. **The INF board comprises three Executive Committee (EC) members and the two other committee members make up the Central Committee (CC) of five. They manage the INF/FNI affairs between them, but some decisions can only be made by the board (EC).