The Bahrain Women Association for Human Development endorsed the Earth Charter back in 2002, and since, they have been making efforts to promote the sustainability vision articulated in the Charter. In 2010, they created the Environmental Citizenship Program (ECP), and decided to incorporate the Earth Charter into its activities. One of the aims of ECP is to collaborate with the Ministry of Finance, specifically with its Go Green Committee, to implement ECP activities with the Ministry.
The idea of this collaboration is to offer training to Ministry of Finance employees to raise awareness about the importance of the environmental aspects of sustainability, to encourage their individual sense of responsibility to the Earth, to help them link their actions and decisions with environmental concerns, to activate the employees’ leadership skills in initiating a positive change in their work environment, and finally to spread the word about the Earth Charter Principles, not only within the Ministry of Finance, but with other government entities.
One of the first steps of this collaboration was to introduce the Earth Charter to the Ministry of Finance Go Green Committee, and explain the practical aspects of the proposed joint actions under ECP. This took place during a meeting on 13 June 2011, where members of ECP made a presentation about the Earth Charter. The attendees of this meeting were: Fatima Frutan, the Director of ECP, Bedoor Rajab, ECP member, Mr. Hasan Abdulla, the Head of Go Green Committee, and other members of the Ministry of Finance.
The presentation was highly appreciated by the members of the committee as the program goes complements the Go Green campaign. Now, the Go Green Committee will seek the approval of the Minister of Finance to sign the agreement between the Bahrain Women Association for Human Development and the Ministry to implement the ECP actions with the Earth Charter.
On 23 and 24 November 2010, a special celebration of the 10th Earth Charter anniversary took place in Jordan, under the patronage of HRH Princess Basma Bint Talal and the Jordanian Hashemite Fund for Human Development (JOHUD). The objectives were to raise awareness about the EC in Jordan and in the region, share experiences and forge collaboration between regional organizations. As a result, a regional Earth Charter network for Middle East and North Africa was created, and strategic actions and way forward were discussed and agreed.
The first day of the event, around 200 people gathered at Movenpick Hotel in the Dead Sea, Jordan, where HRH Princess Basma offered her views on the importance of the Earth Charter for the region, she said: “the Earth Charter is in line with our region’s culture and lifestyle. Our commitment to the EC is evident, but we need to do more actions, we need to do what is simply right”. She offered an overview of the contributions of Jordan society to the drafting process of the Charter, and actions that have taken place during this last 10 years. She highlighted the translation of the EC Teacher’s Guidebook into Arabic and how this resource was distributed to schools throughout the country. At the end of her speech, she expressed hope that this meeting leads to more use and promotion of the sustainability vision that is articulated in the Earth Charter.
In this occasion, IUCN regional office launched a toolkit in Arabic of the water initiative called WANI. Mr. Mark Smith from IUCN Headquarters presented this material and made the official launch. In addition, he reflected on the complementary missions of IUCN and Earth Charter Initiative.
In the first panel discussion, Prof. Peter Blaze Corcoran offered, on behalf of the Earth Charter International, a thorough presentation of what have been the most important highlights and outcomes of the Earth Charter in the last ten years, in areas such as education, private sector, youth and global governance. In addition, Mr. Odeh Al-Jayyousi, IUCN Regional Director highlighted the importance of the EC as an educational tool for sustainable development and the importance of a continued collaboration. Dr. Sawsan Majali, Director of ZENID offered an overview of actions to put in practice the Earth Charter in Jordan. Finally, Mr. Mustafa Naseredin, from TAG group, offered his views on the importance of the Earth Charter as a framework to motivate new ways of doing business. He reflected on the complementarities between EC, Global Compact and GRI.
A second panel was organized to share experiences of the Earth Charter in action, each panelist discussed one of the four pillars of the Earth Charter. Mr. Ibrahim Al-Zubi from Emirates Diving Association discussed about Respect and Care for the Community of Life; Mr. Yehya Khaled from Royal Society of Conservation of Nature shared thoughts on the notion of Ecological Integrity; Mr. Emad Adly from RAED Network reflected on his work on Social and Economic Justice and Mr. Melhem Mansour from Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Syria about Democracy, Non Violence and Peace.
Then, participants divided into five groups to discuss the role of the Earth Charter in education, private sector, youth, policy making, planning and in evaluation and assessment for sustainability.
The second day of the meeting, the working groups identified priority actions for each area discussed, they started to develop a regional plan for putting the actions identified into practice, and discussed on a collaboration effort to start a regional Earth Charter network.
Participants representing organizations of 11 countries (Governmental, International and Non Governmental Organizations) committed to get involved in this network. The countries represented were: Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
There was an agreement to have JOHUD as the coordinating entity for this network, who will be in close communication with the members and ECI Secretariat. The participant’s commitment is expressed in a final declaration signed by all, which was presented to HRH Princess Basma on the last day.
The Earth Charter is a universal expression of ethical principles to foster sustainable development.
The Earth Charter Initiative is the global network that embraces, uses and integrates the Earth Charter principles.