On January 17th the Dutch Earth Charter affiliate NCDO (Centre for Global Citizenship) hosted an Earth Charter Youth Network Meeting in Amsterdam. Led by moderator inspiratrice Gerry, nearly 40 youngsters between the ages of 16 and 28 shared their personal knowledge, ideas, and visions on sustainable development.
The network meeting opened with an Earth Charter dialogue between Gerry and NCDO President and CEO Frans van den Boom. Frans emphasized his personal motivations for working with the Earth Charter. After first acknowledging that his generation has left younger generations with a big mess to clean up, he also said to the young people present that they have the potential to change the world by being world citizens striving for sustainable development. A partial solution from his viewpoint would be to place more emphasis on education for sustainable development, in which the Earth Charter can be an excellent tool. Frans ended the dialogue with some good advice to the youth present: “Stay true to yourself and keep dreaming big; keep faith and carry on the good work”.
Another source of inspiration at the event was the presence of three Dutch social entrepreneurs who shared their vision of sustainability and more explicitly how they connect the EC with their daily activities. Tom van de Beek from ‘The Tipping Point’, Ayla van Kessel from ‘Thumbs up Africa’, and Margreet van der Pijl from ‘1%CLUB’ gave some guidance and tools to the youth present about how to use the Earth Charter as a guideline. A common theme noted throughout the presentations was that young people can both highlight certain aspects of the Earth Charter within their jobs and use it to keep ‘the bigger picture in mind’.
Following these different role models and sources of inspiration, the young people present turned everything they heard into some physical action with help of Niels Koldewijn from the Dutch foundation ‘Elos Nederland’. Niels developed an interactive game, which included some hands-on activities around the Earth Charter principles to reveal, as one of the participants nicely exclaimed, “if we go alone, we move fast; if we go together, we move slower but go further”. The concluding remarks of the meeting were delivered by the Earth Charter International Council co-chair, Alide Roerink.
The network event provided the possibility to make new connections and collaborations. The dialogue between the youngsters is being continued on a Dutch Facebook group for Earth Charter Youth.
All photos taken by Annemarijne Bax.