Last week at the University of Costa Rica in San Jose, 35 enthusiastic and motivated students from the UCR Leadership Programme took part in a Leadership, Sustainability, and Ethics workshop run by Earth Charter International.
The theme of the workshop was sustainable development, and many topics were explored using dialogue, art, and drama to connect participants to sustainability and its relationship to the Earth Charter.
The workshop began with groups sharing practices their grandparents used to follow which participants considered more sustainable than those we use today. Memories included washing clothes in the river as well as raising their own food on family farms. Participants reflected on how they want their future grandchildren to view them, as a sustainable generation or a destructive one.
Artwork representing climate action, zero hunger, gender equality, reduced inequalities, and responsible consumption and production provoked further reflections on the idea of sustainability, leading to a clear consensus among participants that sustainable development is much more than a healthy environment; it requires social and economic justice, peace, and democracy as well. These ideas were connected to the sustainable development goals set for 2030, a timeframe the United Nations has set for motivating action and measuring progress worldwide.
This led into an introduction of the Earth Charter; a global vision, universal ethical framework, and unifying pillars and principles that provide a path towards a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice and a culture of peace. Two of its pillars, social and economic justice and democracy, non-violence and peace, were examined more closely in the form of role-plays (designed based on Theater from the Oppressed) which tackled themes of consumerism, resource depletion and street harassment. The enthusiastic, creative, and hilarious improvisation visibilized cultural norms which permit the current problems to exist, and generated profound discussion on the consequences inequality and injustice and the challenges of creating change. The theatre and discussion created the momentum for the final part of the workshop.
Filled with emotions and feeling unified as a group, the students formed two groups to contribute to two issues explored in the theatre activity. The first campaign to address street harassment is entitled “Empowering the streets” and will use street theatre on campus to engage with bystanders and empower positive intervention and stimulate conversations on the issue. The second campaign is a recycling project at the which will seek to reclassify waste and its disposal as well as incentivize students to participate through creative rewards.
ECI plans to continue working with the Leadership Programme at UCR to train young leaders on sustainability and ethics, and offer the Earth Charter as a tool for campus activities and projects.