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Experience of the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment in using the Earth Charter

Experiencias del Ministerio de Medio Ambiente de Brasil

en la utilización de la Carta de la Tierra [PDF, 64KB]

January 2007 — Over the last four years, the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment has disseminated the Earth Charter and used it in some of its actions, particularly as a guide to implement the Agenda 21 Program, and as a reference for holding national environmental conferences.

 

The Second National Environmental Conference, held in Brasilia in December 2005, formed part of Brazil‘s ongoing efforts to consolidate a participatory democracy. In this context, the conference and related activities brought together more than 86,000 people from different social sectors to discuss and define domestic environmental policy. The coordinators of the conference encouraged participants to take into account the Earth Charter principles as a guide in this participatory process.

 

The Ministry of the Environment also has undertaken a number of remarkable initiatives in the framework of the Agenda 21 Program. Under Objective 21, ‘Sustainability Pedagogy: Ethics and Solidarity,’ Brazil’s Agenda 21 emphasizes the need to use the Earth Charter as a guide for governments, civil society, and entrepreneurs, recognizing it as “an educational tool for promoting sustainable development(…) whose goal is to inspire humankind in its codes of conduct.”

 

In this context, some of the priority actions of Agenda 21 in the country are to disseminate the Earth Charter and to promote its use and discussion among different sectors. Since 2003, this has been accomplished through a number of events such as short courses, workshops, seminars, and environmental conferences at municipal, state and national levels. Some of these activities are outlined below:

       1.

 

Organization of debates, lectures and presentations on the Earth Charter by public figures such as Leonardo Boff, theologian, writer, and member of the Earth Charter Commission, and Moacir Gadotti. These activities have taken place during national and international events including:

  • The World Social Forum, in January 2005 (Porto Alegre, Brazil, 1,200 participants), and in January 2006 (Caracas, Venezuela, 300 participants).
  • The Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, COP 8, in March 2006 (Curitiba, Brazil, side event).
  • The ‘Brazil Day’, in March 2006 (Curitiba, Brazil, 200 participants).
  • The Global Civil Society Forum during the COP 8, in March 2006 (Curitiba, Brazil, 500 participants)
  • The Fifth Iberian-American Congress on Environmental Education, in April 2006 (Joinville, Brazil, 500 participants).
  • The launching of Fortaleza‘s Agenda 21 (2000 participants)

 

      2.   Presentations on the Earth Charter during courses and seminars held through the Agenda 21 Program.     These activities have been attended by approximately 6,700 people representing Local Agenda 21 chapters, government institutions and civil society organizations. These events include:

 

  • Training for multiplying agents on Local Agendas 21 in the southern and northeast regions; Tocantins; a micro-region located beyond the Tucuruí hydroelectric plant; Minas Gerais and the regional pole of Pirapora; the metropolitan area; Cáceres and the northern coast of Sao Paulo.
  • A seminar on health, the environment and sustainability, held at the Campos oil company base.
  • Capacity-building and training workshops for Local Agenda 21 chapters in regions such as Praia Grande, Santa Catarina; the far west area of Santa Catarina, Salvador, Bahia; Cruz das Almas, Bahia; Alcantara, Sao Vicente and Baixada Santista, and Sao Leopoldo,
  • Regional meetings to establish the Brazilian Local Agenda 21 Network in different areas: the northern, northeast, southern and central-west regions, and in Brasilia.
  • An international seminar on the Pampa Biome, in Santana do Livramento.
  • Workshops with teachers from the Public Education Network, Roraima.
  • Two youth encounters in Goais and Roraima.

 

Brazil has made a significant effort to promote the Earth Charter through the publication of various documents. For instance, the Ministry of the Environment published the full text of the Earth Charter in Portuguese, Spanish and English.

 

Another important publication is the manual titled “Paso a Paso hacia la Agenda 21 Local” [Step by Step towards a Local Agenda 21]. The manual explains how to start a Local Agenda 21 forum, based on the principles of democracy and broad-based participation. The manual also offer suggestions for implementing the plans developed at the forums. Interestingly, the manual describes the universal ethics of sustainability and the reaffirmation of the Brazilian identity as interdependent principles, and recalls the importance of the Earth Charter as an acknowledgment of our universal responsibility toward our planet. The text of the Earth Charter, the Millennium Development Goals, and the Global Agenda 21 are included in the manual as support materials.

 

The Ministry of the Environment also promoted the signing of a technical cooperation agreement with the Center for the Defense of Human Rights of Petropolis (CDHH), to support the dissemination of the Earth Charter. The Ministry’s assistance to the CDHH supported the production of videos (450 in VHS format and 450 DVDs), manuals (20,000), and posters (1,000).

 

Other publications include:

 

  • A discussion paper on Agenda 21 titled “Ética y Sustentabilidad” [Ethics and Sustainability].

  • A book titled “La Carta de la Tierra: Valores y Principios para un Futuro Sustentable” [The Earth Charter: Values and Principles for a Sustainable Future].

  • A magazine titled Agenda 21 – Brasil Sustentable [Sustainable Brazil]
  • The first and second editions of a book titled “Agenda 21 Brasileña: Acciones Prioritarias” [Brazilian Agenda 21: Priority Actions].

  • A video titled “La Carta de la Tierra, Valores y Principios para un Futuro Sustentable” [The Earth Charter: Values and Principles for a Sustainable Future].

  • A video of various events organized by the Agenda 21 Program, such as regional and national conferences sponsored by the Brazilian Local Agenda 21 Network, awareness-raising activities, and national and international seminars.

Ms. Marina Silva, Minister of the Environment, has lent her support to this effort, which is coordinated by Mr. Pedro Ivo Batista.

 

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