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International Earth Trusteeship Gathering in The Netherlands

INTERNATIONAL EARTH TRUSTEESHIP GATHERING
Governance, law, advocacy and practice
22 and 23 June 2018 in The Hague, The Netherlands

IMG_2340From all parts of the world, more than 80 people gathered in The Hague, The Netherlands for the International Earth Trusteeship Gathering. The gathering served as a welcome space for different initiatives, which share an interest in governance, law and legal structures, Earth practices and advocacy with the aim to heal the relationship between humanity and ecosystem Earth and fulfill our responsibilities as Trustees of the Earth.

“The protection of Earth’s vitality, diversity and beauty is a sacred trust.” – Preamble, Earth Charter

The gathering took place on 22 and 23 June, as a follow-up to the Earth Trusteeship Roundtable organized by Hans van Willenswaard (School of Wellbeing, Thailand) on 13 July 2017, in Utrecht, the Netherlands in the context of the international conference “Practicing the Commons”. This Roundtable brought together academics, lawyers, politicians, activists, farmers, researchers and others sharing a variety of initiatives and ideas. Keynote speaker Prof. Klaus Bosselmann presented an initiative of the Planetary Integrity Project, supported by the Common Home of Humanity project, to establish an Earth Trusteeship Council that would focus on maintaining or restoring ecological integrity on a United Nations / planetary scale. He also mentioned other ideas, such as a Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Responsibilities, which could be presented on 10 December 2018, the 70 years Celebration Day of UDHR. Klaus Bosselmann and Hans van Willenswaard initiated the Gathering to discuss these themes and prepare for 10 December 2018. The Earth Charter International acted as one of the organising partners, thanks to the active participation of Alide Roerink, member of the ECI Council and coordinator of Earth Charter The Netherlands. Rick Clugston, former member of the ECI Council and member of the Earth Charter Associates board took part in the Gathering.

IMG_2342The call for an International Gathering further stems from an e-mail discussion of January 2018 with several key persons of different nature rights organizations on the need and opportunity to present a draft Additional Protocol on Nature Rights to the UDHR at the next UN General Assembly. In this e-mail discussion, a proposal was made to organize a gathering that would bring together many closely related initiatives and ideas that exist around the world and have been raising the global awareness of the urgent need to restore our relationship with nature.

Another reason for an International Gathering was to create an opportunity for Dutch human rights, environmental and sustainable development organizations to have an exchange with these international initiatives.

On Friday 22 June, six thematic sessions took place to share ideas and explore ways of working together. Different initiatives were presented, such as the Universal Declaration for the Rights of Mother Earth and the Rights of Nature Europe.

The meaning of the term Earth Trusteeship was discussed and a draft joint proclamation was presented by Klaus Bosselmann. This draft document will be edited and a next version will be distributed among participants to prepare for an event on 10 December 2018 in The Peace Palace in The Hague, in the context of the 70th anniversary of UDHR.

20180623_092504-1The Gathering was accompanied by a fire ceremony and the SGI-ECI Seeds of Hope Exhibition. Also, the new film “The Rights of Nature: A Global Movement” was screened and an interesting conversation emerged with one of the filmmakers. Click here for more information on the film.

Many participants of the gathering referred to the Earth Charter document as the ethical foundation to build on, also for efforts to acknowledge the rights of nature. In addition, the Earth Charter Initiative was considered as the movement, which could serve as an important partner in the follow-up of the gathering.

Dialogue on rights of nature movement, also brought to light that indigenous peoples do not need to redefine their relationship with nature. Mother Earth exists in her own right. Who are we humans to ‘give’ her rights? The rights based vision in some dialogues was considered relevant in a western context. With respect to the term Earth Trusteeship, a few participants stated that they rather use the term ‘Earth stewardship’.

Click here to see the complete report on the gathering.