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Colloquium with Leonardo Boff and Alicia Barcena in Mexico

Written by: Mateo Castillo Ceja

Coloquio Universidades y sustentabilidad Univ Iberoamericana Mx 20 ago 1The Colloquium “University and Sustainability in Mexico“, was held on August 20, 2018 in Mexico City. It was organized by the Ibero-American University, which in 2016 made a commitment to promote sustainability inspired by the Earth Charter. Leonardo Boff was a witness of honor of that commitment two years ago.

The Colloquium brought together influential personalities in Latin America in the areas of sustainability and development.

Participants included: Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Leonardo Boff, theologian, philosopher, writer, professor, Brazilian ecologist and member of the Earth Charter Commission; Julia Carabias, biologist and academic from the Faculty of Sciences of the National Autonomous University of Mexico; Enrique Leff, economist and environmental sociologist and Martha Delgado, environmentalist and former Secretary of the Environment of Mexico City.

Martha Delgado, being the first to intervene, highlighted “the lack of attachment and appreciation of the planet”, emphasized that children now learn to manage an IPad instead of learning to plant a tree, and above all expressed that sustainability professionals need to understand the ethics of life, it is about training the new saviors of the world.

Coloquio Universidades y sustentabilidad Univ Iberoamericana Mx 20 ago 3Enrique Leff said that “the environmental issue are a bitter drink”, “a problem of understanding life”, and therefore stated that the university must assume a position without condition. It highlighted the importance of ethics, where it must go beyond scientific understanding and that interdisciplinarity helps metaphors.

Julia Carábias began her intervention with a questioning: has the academy gone to the rhythm of sustainability?, concluding a resounding NO, due to the lack of understanding of complex systems citing Rolando García. She expressed concern about environmental issues where as a policy is not well drawn in the development program of the Government of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, president-elect of Mexico. Her concern about the loss of the integral vision of sustainability stood out rescuing the ethical dimension.

Alicia Barcena expressed her concern about “the current model of development that has already run out”, so that the creation of a culture of equality becomes urgent. She warned that humanity has overcome four of the nine planetary boundaries. Supported by a statistical analysis, she said that we are in a time of changing mega trends. She also noted the need to double the minimum wage of Mexicans. In conclusion she encouraged the public with the vision of the Popol- Vuh, from this cosmovision, we have to think of a development that includes all.

Coloquio Universidades y sustentabilidad Univ Iberoamericana Mx 20 ago 2Leonardo Boff called for fundamental changes in our way of doing things and how we treat ourselves. We live in disgrace, because we live in a world where wealth is not destined for life. Inspired by the Earth Charter as a reference in his dissertation, he shared his concept of sustainability using his book Sustainability, what is and what is not,:
Sustainability refers to the set of processes and actions aimed at maintaining the vitality and integrity of Mother Earth and the preservation of its ecosystems, with all the physical elements, the life of current and future generations, as well as continuity, expansion and realization of the potentialities of human civilization in its various expressions.
He added “in accordance with the Earth Charter, sustainability appears as a matter of life and death.”
He concluded his dissertation summoning us to “not preach optimism but hope” and that the problems of the Earth do not take away the joy of hope”.  He closed with the text of the Earth Charter: ” Let ours be a time remembered for the awakening of a new reverence for life, the firm resolve to achieve sustainability, the quickening of the struggle for justice and peace, and the joyful celebration of life. ”

Participants congratulated the organizers for the creation of the Transdisciplinary Center for Sustainability, the first in the country with the idea to integrate different disciplines to face our civilizatory crisis and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.