On June 29th, Earth Charter Canada and the Vancouver-based Walas family celebrated Earth Charter Anniversary, at Dudoc Vancouver.
Around 100 people attended to celebrate, share their stories, and learn more about the Earth Charter.
The evening brought together local businesses, artists, and changemakers who share the values and principles of the Earth Charter based on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace. Celebrations included live music, art, crafts and a mini-fair.
Attendees made wishes for the Earth, and found many common themes.
“We are victims of ‘the struggle between ecosystems and egosystems’.
It is the egos of people, governments, businesses that prevent solutions and generate a terrible lack of political will.”
Maurice F. Strong speech at the Earth Charter+5
November 2005, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Earth Charter International mourns the passing of Maurice F. Strong, co-chair of the Earth Charter Commission. All of us involved in the sustainability movement share special feelings of gratitude and admiration for the unique role he played and brilliant leadership he provided over many years in the global process of social transformation.
As the Secretary General of the 1992 Earth Summit, founder of UNEP, The Earth Council, The Earth Charter Initiative and many other great movements, he was able to significantly influence historical changes, proven by the numerous conventions and international policies that emerged on the environment and sustainability over the past 30 years. At the turn of the century, Koffi Annan invited him to take on the task of revitalizing the University for Peace, to which he dedicated all his efforts as the Rector and the chair of the Council for several years.
As a member of the Brundtland Commission and Secretary General of the Earth Summit in 1992, Mr. Strong took on the commitment to carry the idea of an Earth Charter forward (which was a recommendation made in the Brundtand Commission Report and according to him an unfinished piece of business of the Rio Earth Summit). Therefore, in 1994, together with Mikhail Gorbachev he launched the Earth Charter Initiative and became the co-Chair of the International Commission.
We would like to stress his unique ability to communicate with people from all walks of life and his tireless commitment and vision towards elevating the voices of non-state actors in the international policy arena. The fact that Agenda 21 has a whole section on The Role of Major Groups, which has subsequently opened up many possibilities, is in great part due to his capacity to envision a new multi-stakeholder process of decision making.
In light of the opening of COP21, it seems appropriate to take a moment to reflect on some of the messages he used to convey:
“We know what we should do; science and technology can help us to do it. We know the solutions and we know what to do in the future. But we are not doing it. We are not able to make the transition to a sustainable way of life. Moral, ethical and spiritual responsibility hangs on today’s generation and emerging generations. We must reach into the hearts and souls of all people, and work with them for what we all want: a healthy whole community, happy children, and a secure life on Earth.”
Maurice F. Strong, Earth Charter+5 Event,
November 2005, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Following in his footsteps, we would like to move ahead with determination and a deep sense of intergenerational commitment to carry forward the great work that he started and that we still have ahead of us, which is to continue to influence the process of changing the development model through the awakening of a new global consciousness.
We want to express our condolences and sentiments to his family, friends, and past colleagues and above all remember and celebrate his life with gratitude.
Earth Charter International Secretariat and Council
“I want to thank Mr. Strong for everything he has done. A leader is someone who has a vision to make things better and dedicates all possible efforts to make it happen gathering the cooperation of many. A leader is able to communicate that vision well, inspire and engage many, and influence processes of change. Mr. Strong did that in an outstanding way. I feel deep admiration, respect, and gratitude to him for his consistency over the years, for his vision, and life dedication to address the world´s environmental challenges and make sustainability a reality.”
Mirian Vilela, Executive Director, Earth Charter International
“We have read with sadness and empathy of the passing of Maurice. We are all indebted to his leadership on environmental issues these many years.
May his work live on! We send our prayers and deepest sympathy to his family.”
Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim
Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology
Guest post by Valerie Elliott, ECI Affiliate from iD2 Communications
Canada has just held its 42nd federal election. As an Earth Charter affiliate, I wanted to share some of my personal insights and my hope for Canada’s future.
I am not alone in feeling hopeful since the election of our new prime minister, 43-year-old Justin Trudeau. The son of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, who was prime minister from 1968 to 1974, Justin leads the Liberal party, a centre-left party.
Justin Trudeau’s election is exciting to many Canadians because for the past 10 years Canada has been led by Stephen Harper, a Conservative whose policies have been contentious and caused great division in the country. He did not support climate action policies, was a supporter of the oil and gas industry, involved Canada in war, brought forward policies that removed the rights of citizens and had a closed door culture.
We always hope that new governments will show great leadership and learn to adhere to Earth Charter values and principles even when they are lofty goals. Yet in the first few days since Trudeau’s election we’ve already seen a significant change in values that this prime minister will bring to the table.
The first very noticed change by journalists was the answering of questions in the press gallery. It is apparent that in his first days he is wishing to set a tone that is a contrast from his predecessor. In keeping with EC pillars of democracy, Trudeau made clear that he is looking for gender equity when appointing his cabinet and that he expects his cabinet to practice non-partisan politics.
Many promises have been made. Realistically, some of those promises will be broken, but there is no question that Canadians are eager to see a change in our culture. Transparency and accountability are badly needed in Canada and Trudeau has the opportunity to demonstrate what that could look like.
Trudeau has committed to reviewing our existing electoral system to strengthen our democratic process. He has promised to withdraw from the coalition battle against the Islamic State while maintaining humanitarian aid. He has pledged to attend the Paris COP21 climate conference and has assured Canadians that he will not turn his back on the environment. In contrast, under Stephen Harper’s government, where once we had over 2 million protected lakes and rivers, we now have under 200. Canadians expect to see much of what Harper did reversed.
Some pundits are excited about the election result believing that Canadians banded together to “vote for change.” My hope is that we will continue working to improve and better our electoral system to ensure sustainable improvements for our culture, social, economic, and environmental concerns. I love Canada but I won’t sugarcoat the fact that Canada must evolve. Many Aboriginal people, the largest growing population in the country, live in horrific conditions. First Nations’ homes are 90 per cent more likely to be without running water, and what water does exist is likely on a boil water advisory. EC goals, such as the right of each person to realize their own potential, are goals we must embrace and ensure our government takes action on.
The election showed us possibility. Canadians, recognizing that EC principles better our communities, rejected hateful bigotry in favour of compassion and a willingness to help refugees in need. Indigenous people voted, many for the first time, and a total of 10 indigenous MPs were elected. Voter turnout in rural areas was the highest it’s been in years. Women are expected to be more equally represented both in the cabinet and within the government. And while Harper strategists worked hard to create division through values, they instead found confirmation about what the majority of Canadians want and are now demanding: inclusion; acceptance; respect; care; and equality. We are at a turning point and Canada is set to flourish through the EC values that will result.
UPDATE: I wrote this article the day of the election. Since then, Prime Minister Trudeau has been sworn in and his cabinet appointed, with exactly a 50/50 split in gender, representation of Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities and more. Canada is extremely hopeful at present.
Interview with Mitra Doherty (MD) by Douglas F. Williamson (DW).
DW: I’m here today with Mitra Doherty from Canada, a long-time supporter of the Earth Charter Initiative and Earth Charter International.
First of all Mitra, Earth Charter International would like to thank you for your continued support of our efforts to make the world more just, peaceful, and sustainable. On this occasion, I’m interviewing you as you have agreed to set up an annual scholarship to support participants to attend education programmes at the Earth Charter Center for Education for Sustainable Development in Costa Rica. This is a very generous gift and will have positive echoes the impact of which will be unfathomable. We are deeply grateful to you.
MD: You’re very welcome. I’m glad to be able to help.
DW: I’d like to know, how did you first learn about the Earth Charter?
MD: It was at the University for Peace. I was there for a visit. I’d heard about the University and have always been involved in peace activities. We had a peace organization at the university here in Waterloo. I was walking around and saw a poster of the Earth Charter and I took a picture of it. And at that moment, Mirian Vilela, the Director of EC, tapped me on the shoulder and asked me if I wanted to learn more. So I said sure and I went to her office and she gave me the information and I learned that there were many aspects of the EC that appealed to me.
DW: What does the Earth Charter mean to you?
MD: Interconnectedness, sustainability and justice for the Earth are all important to me. I’ve always felt that we’re connected to the Earth and that we need to take care of it. The Charter is a very well thought out expression of this. I always felt that it was organic and alive and that it had evolved to what it is in a natural way.
DW: How does it impact your life, your work? How are you involved with the charter?
MD: I decided that the line of action that I wanted to help with was related to education and also increasing endorsements. So, I use it with many groups and individuals. I think increasing awareness is the most important, and education is vital for doing that.
DW: Why did you decide to set up this scholarship program?
MD: I always feel that if I can do something good and help someone do something that I would like to do but can’t and the only thing holding them back is money, I would like to make sure they can benefit. There are individuals who would like to do your courses and can’t afford it, especially from developing countries, so it’s really just about enabling someone else to be able to benefit from your education and return home to pass on knowledge and inspiration.
DW: What is moving you these days? Where do you think emphasis should be placed?
MD: Environmental rights are really interesting to me. And I think we need to get the Earth Charter values to kids at a young age.
DW: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today and for your generous scholarship programme in support of the Earth Charter Initiative.
The Annual Mitra Doherty Scholarship will award a participant or participants with financial assistance to attend Earth Charter Center programmes on education.
WireService.ca Media Release (06/20/2015) Ottawa, ON – “It is increasingly odd to realize that the voices of the established order, sources of top-down control and out-dated structures, are suddenly allies. My experience for decades was to deride the International Monetary Fund ( IMF) for perverse “structural adjustment,” the World Bank for bad development, the International Energy Agency for focussing on expanding fossil fuel reserves, and the Vatican for policies so opposed to contraception as to ignore the threat of HIV-AIDs. I now find myself in the oddest of positions as a Canadian. They are all more progressive than my own government.
“The IMF and the World Bank are powerful allies in the fight to move off fossil fuels – calling for all governments to end fossil fuel subsidies and to place a price on carbon. The International Energy Agency is calling for two-thirds of all known reserves of fossil fuels to stay in the ground until at least 2050, to avoid a 2 degree C rise in global average temperatures. And now the Vatican is more aware of the science of climate change than is Stephen Harper. Galileo would be amazed.
“A Papal Encyclical is a rare event. And this one may be the most important ever. I urge all Canadians to read it, whether Catholic or atheist; Protestant, Jew, Muslim or pagan. It has something to say to us all.
“Its political intention is clear. We are six months from the opening of the deadline talks for the acceptance of a new, comprehensive international climate treaty. As the only Member of Parliament (other than Leona Aglukkaq) to have attended the negotiations in recent years, I have to admit that the prospects for an effective treaty are dim.
“Politicians make great speeches about increased ambition and the need for urgent action, but once behind closed doors their diplomats put on the brakes. The exception is Canada where politicians do not make great speeches and their negotiators put on the brakes. No question some nations and groups of nations are far more helpful than others. The EU has the most ambitious climate target, but ever since the economic disaster of 2008, in the talks its strength as a leader has been reduced. The US under Barak Obama is taking executive action to cut GHGs, but the State Department negotiators seem to be getting instructions from George Bush.
“In Warsaw at COP19, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, realizing the rate of progress was too slow, announced he would host a major UN climate summit in September 2014 to create more momentum for the COP 20 talks in Lima. The global citizens movement seized on his lead and mobilized the largest ever Peoples Climate Marches – all around the world, with 400,000 on the streets of New York the day before the U.N. climate summit. World leaders came to pledge action (not Stephen Harper, of course). But still, Lima sputtered.
“German Chancellor Angela Merkel understands the problem. She capitalized on her role as host of the G7 to make climate a focus. For the first time ever, the world’s largest industrialized countries have declared that our only way forward is to stop burning fossil fuels altogether. Sadly, and shamefully for Canadians, to get Stephen Harper to sign a communiqué using the word “decarbonisation” required shifting the deadline in the draft communiqué from “substantially by 2050” to “by 2100.”
“Any close observer of the talks will know that we need a miracle. Enter Pope Francis.
“His 74 page open letter to the world is vast in its ambition. It is largely focused on the need for climate action. He places the climate crisis in both scientific and moral terms. The over one billion Roman Catholics in the world will have to take heed – but so too should those of no faith. For in his science he is repeating what the IPCC, IMF, World Bank, IEA, OECD and others have said.
“In his appeal to a moral response to the crisis, he also has something important to say to those of no faith. Any observers of our current crisis know that consumerism and greed are at the heart of it. We face a deeply moral challenge at many levels. The industrialized and wealthy world is in no position to say “treat all countries the same.” We have created a crisis and those most at risk are the least responsible and most vulnerable. As his Holiness writes “the cries of the earth and the cries of the poor are the same.”
“Another dimension of the moral challenge is inter-generational. How can we in our generation condemn our own children and their children to an increasingly unlivable world?
“But the Pontiff takes the issue more directly to our current culture. The encyclical takes aim at consumer culture where throwing something away is done without a thought. “Reusing something instead of immediately discarding it, when done for the right reasons, can be an act of love which expresses our own dignity.” (211)
“I was deeply moved to find words I had helped draft from the Earth Charter:
“As never before in history, common destiny beckons us to seek a new beginning…Let ours be remembered for the awakening of a new reverence for life, the firm resolve to achieve sustainability, the quickening of the struggle for justice and peace and the joyful celebration of life.” (207)
“The six Global Green Values were distilled from the Earth Charter. I was honoured to be an Earth Charter Commissioner, working with an extraordinary group from around the world. The Green Party at our roots is tied to the Earth Charter.
“So now we have a voice, one with whom we will never agree on everything. Not surprisingly, the encyclical inserts an argument against abortion. Still there is far more to be embraced than rejected in a call for a greater recognition that we must embrace each other as a human family with a shared destiny and a common home. The call for inter-religious dialogue and respect across cultures and beliefs is powerful. Let us all take it to heart.”
For additional information or to arrange an interview, contact:
Julian Morelli Director of Communications Green Party of Canada cell: (613) 614 4916 office: (613) 562 4916 (224) [email protected]
Guest post by Linda Hill, Inclusive Leadership Co-operative
“Honour and support the young people of our communities, enabling them to fulfill their essential role in creating sustainable societies.” (Earth Charter, Principle 12)
What is a great way to involve children, youth and their families in learning about the Earth Charter pillars of respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, social and economic justice, democracy, non-violence and peace? Organize an Inclusive Leadership Adventure! In February, 2015 on the West Coast of Canada, volunteers from the Inclusive Leadership Co-operative partnered with the Gabriola Island Elementary School Parent Advisory Committee to honor and support their Seventh Grade students and older youth to build awareness and skills for creating sustainable lives based on respect for all living beings.
Twenty Seventh Graders, twenty older youth and twenty adults spent three days developing Inclusive Leadership skills for bringing the Earth Charter to life in their homes, schools, and communities. Throughout the weekend, the Earth Charter provided a global framework for personal and local leadership development based on respect for diversity. An amazing array of activities raised awareness of the vital role each person plays in forging inclusive solutions in response to ecological and social concerns. The participants learned through co-operative games, art, drama, story-telling, and social justice workshops. They learned through nature walks, playing in the rain, opportunities to help in the kitchen, heart-to-heart discussions about personal lives, hula-hoop contests, costume parades, and a couple of hours of getting the adrenaline rushing while flying high on some incredibly fun rope swings.
Here are a few gleanings from participants and facilitators that highlight some of the ways this Inclusive Leadership Adventure brought the Earth Charter to life for this inter-generational learning community.
“At an Inclusive Leadership Adventure nothing is embarrassing because the gold at the end of rainbow is respect for the magnificence of diversity.”
“Inclusive Leaders take time for those who matter. Since every form of life has value this means taking time for everyone and everything.”
“One pillar of the Earth Charter is democracy, non-violence and peace so don’t argue or punch or be mean, don’t do things that make people die, and don’t bring drugs around us.”
“The Earth Charter says life can mean difficult choices. I really liked how we could use the skill of challenge by choice to choose to do whatever we want. We were with friendly, supportive people who encouraged us all to do the right thing. We got to make choices on where and how we were going to spend our time, including some of us helping in the kitchen and learning how to cook and clean up. The next thing I would like our whole class to work on is the skill of making choices that leave out losing.”
“Children, youth and adults can all realize our full potential to create a society free of discrimination. I know lots of things about justice and about nature. People here really listened to what I had to say. The adults learned a lot from me.”
“So much was learned and shared over the weekend of exploring Inclusive Leadership within the Earth Charter framework, starting with building our skills for communicating with compassion. We came away from the weekend having learned so many new tools, new games for team building, and workshops from using computers to telling digital stories, to Anti-discrimination First Aid, creative writing, and even a dress-up show time. The whole four days was fabulous, I feel that this kind of inclusive team building is so valuable for our kids and especially the ones heading off the island for high school.”
“When students go to high school we will meet and get to know people from a wide spectrum of gender and sexuality orientations. Although the Earth Charter affirms gender equality and equity, it needs to be expanded to affirm the equality and equity of the full spectrum.”
“The Earth Charter says to transmit values, traditions, and institutions that support the long-term flourishing of Earth’s human and ecological communities. This boils down to doing what we love, encouraging others to get involved in what they love to do. Ball sports, hockey, and soccer are my life. I’ve learned determination, persistence, and how to practice until I become really good. Other kids learn the same things through music, dance, nature, or even cooking yummy desserts. Becoming really good at something is both a comfort and strong protection for living good lives.”
“I have come to realize that the reward of being an Inclusive Leader involves being entrusted to carry out important responsibilities. Even though so much is unknown, there is so much support. I really felt like I came into my own through the process of putting together something really beautiful that declared our responsibility to one another, to the greater community of life, and to future generations.’”
In summary, this Inclusive Leadership Adventure was a time of doing what the Earth Charter says so well in the Way Forward, “Let ours be a time remembered for the awakening of a new reverence for life, the firm resolve to achieve sustainability, the quickening of the struggle for justice and peace, and the joyful celebration of life.”
Earth Charter International Communications Coordinator Douglas F. Williamson conducted an interview with new ECI affiliate Valerie Elliott in November 2014.
D) I am here today with Valerie Elliott from iD2 Communications from Victoria, British Colombia Canada, who is a new ECI affiliate. And first of all, this interview is a welcome to you to the Earth Charter community. We’re really honored to have you be a part of our efforts as well as the larger global network. You are very welcome and we are very happy to have you.
V) Thank you, Douglas.
D) You’re welcome. Let’s jump right into it. What is iD2 Communications? What do you do?
V) We are a small high performance sustainable communications firm. We provide services that are sustainable in stakeholder engagement, in branding, in media relations, and graphic and web design and other online design work. Sometimes people glaze over when they hear the term sustainable communications. What the heck is that? Sustainable communications looks at the whole life cycle of products and services and commits to strategies, processes, procedures, and materials that consider and value the environmental, cultural, social, and economic impacts that those entail. But we are small, I guess that is probably the difference between us and some of your other affiliates. We don’t believe that that diminishes our potential for contribution.
D) Nor do I. We actually have a full range of affiliates of different sizes. Some of them are quite large and some are smaller organizations. The quality of the commitment is more important than the size of the organization, for sure.
V) For me it’s important to comment on that because many with big corporations and in some of the larger organizational structures there’s often no room for the small business. Small businesses in British Colombia account for over 90% of all business, so it’s significant that small businesses can make those contributions as well.
D) How did you find out about the Earth Charter?
V) Following along with climate action and climate summits and knowing about the Earth Summit, I knew about Maurice Strong and knew that he had worked with Mikhail Gorbachev and created this citizens’ charter. In 2001, when I began looking for ethical documents to help me build our own ethical policy and sustainability statement I continually referred back to the Earth Charter. And every time I found another source, it would refer me back to the Earth Charter because it’s so concise.
D) I think that leads to the next question. What does the Earth Charter mean to you?
V) I am a values-based person. It’s in my being and it’s always been first and foremost. What’s important to me is how people communicate, how respectful and how meaningful the communication is. So, I have a great interest in the values of others because they aren’t necessarily the same as mine. It’s very important to me that a declaration exists when I’m in discussion with others, when I’m working with others. Something that can be put in writing and can be agreed upon, that we can say this is the basis of our work, or this is the basis of our friendship. The expectations that we might have. The Earth Charter to me isn’t always about business or about social development. It’s sometimes about the real one-on-one basic connection that we have with other humans. I think the Earth Charter can be looked at from that perspective, from a smaller perspective. So, to me if we have that basis and know the values that we are drawing on with each other and share with each other, then it helps us determine how we can best move forward with each other as human beings. That’s what it means to me.
D) To go back to what you said before to how the EC influenced your company’s policy tell us a little about that, about how the Earth Charter was a reference to you. Tell me in your day-to-day work or in your larger business plans and operations, how does the Earth Charter affect that?
V) Sometimes you need to have the guiding principle when you’re challenged. We were first challenged with a situation when we are asked to work on a project that had to do with cancer research. And they were testing on animals. Now, testing on animals is ubiquitous, particularly in North America where it’s performed by almost every university. And there are certain animals that aren’t even considered living beings, such as rats. So when we took on that client, we were going to do a video about their procedure, and how their research has worked. We discovered in the process that they were able to purchase synthetic cells but were choosing instead to test on animals. This started our whole deep dive into the Earth Charter, because we recognized we had certain values but we thought, “Is it fair to impose those values we have on others?” So, we were looking for writing, for principles that had already been vetted and considered appropriate for everyone to adopt. That was the first kick at the can, and by the way, we did not deliver to the client, we explained our reasoning behind it, and we quoted the Earth Charter in doing so. We did not leave the client hanging, we found them another contractor to work with, to maintain our reputation, and be respectful of where they were at the time.
The next incident was with a government. We were asked to do some stakeholder engagement. It requires time to do that kind of engagement, and it was for the oil and gas industry. We were given a total of three weeks to do the work. I indicated to them it was impossible to perform meaningful dialogue with a stakeholder group as large as the one they were discussing, and so we indicated that it wasn’t possible. They threatened us by telling us that if we didn’t perform this work and take the contract that we would be removed from the preferred vendors’ list, and so we requested to be removed from that list. Once again, we quoted the Earth Charter and several other sources to back us up.
So, we were starting to feel pretty good about our position. But what we weren’t feeling good about was that we weren’t providing the clients the information in advance, for them to know what our principles were and what they would be coming up against and what we were asking them to agree to, so we recognized that we have to agree with our clients on these principles. Now before we work with any clients we provide them with our ethical principles, which are guided by the Earth Charter and our own staff’s writing and interpretation of wording. It’s very close I have to say without verbatim stealing, and we do of course refer to the Earth Charter in our principles. They know exactly and they agree to work under these principles. From our perspective, it helps us challenge our own industry, to look beyond pretty pictures and award-winning advertising. So, we can perform work that we believe serves society in a beneficial way. And the elders have taught me that what has heart and meaning is what we need to cherish and respect, and I can’t imagine a better way to do that than implementing the Earth Charter values in our work.
D) It’s heartening to hear someone talk about the integrity that they bring to their work and how much it means to them, so that for me is a beautiful sentiment that you expressed. That is a really beautiful Earth Charter story. Tell me then, how do you feel the Earth Charter affects your life outside of work?
V) It’s continually with me, I am constantly talking to people about how to resolve personal issues within themselves, their work, or their families. I talk a lot about the respectful process, honoring where people are right now, not judging them, and trying to really relish the journey. This is why we are on this planet, to have this life journey. And I can’t imagine why I would go to work every day or have relationships with people, friends, family that weren’t part of a joyful journey. So, to me the Earth Charter is always there and continues to be that solid rock that I know I can count on being there.
I think we are trapped in some dynamics of our social interactions that are challenging us and I think the challenge really is to find that joy inside and let it out so that we can help each other, we can do better things for each other. I’m often called on by friends and family to stop helping so many people. I was taught to help, but the Earth Charter solidified it for me, made it ok for me to be me. I believe that everyone is beautiful inside, but we have bound people with expectations of ownership and power and control and things that take them on a path that is not likely going to bring them on a path of much joy to either themselves or to the people around them. So, that’s why I think the Earth Charter belongs in both our private lives and our work lives.
D) Now that you are an Earth Charter affiliate, how are you going to move Earth Charter activities forward, and including you can talk about the Earth Charter +15 campaign that we were discussing the other day.
V) As part of iD2’s policies based on the Earth Charter about sharing and educating, we took that very seriously. We began speaking across Canada and I perform a self-branding exercise for youth. Youth to me is the future, literally they are the future. So, youth is probably the most important audience that I have, which is often dismissed as ignorant or naïve. I don’t believe that’s true and I think that students are fighting very hard to find their place in the world. So, I began a pro-bono workshop that I provide to students and schools, and it’s to help these students find their uniqueness.
It began with the branding process I use for corporations and non-profits. Participants distil themselves down so they eventually have a grand essence of who they are in a nutshell. I’ve been doing those exercises with students aged 14-17, occasionally we have slightly younger students, and of course I have performed this exercise for adults and designers. This branding exercise gives me the opportunity to see how I can work with the Earth Charter. Once we get the participants’ brand identity down and a strategy on how they’re going to protect their brand identity and make sure that they continue to do the things that they love to do, I’ll bring in the Earth Charter and introduce its principles. Then I want to ask them to start adopting the principles that really feel integral to who they are as a person. So, they can start identifying their own value statement. I think that’s very important, because we can assure students, youth, that they have the right to articulate these values, which might be respectful dialogue, for instance. Now, obviously those values might not be reciprocated. But what I’ve found out is that a lot of youth feel that they don’t know how best to behave, and through the Earth Charter and through the language of the Earth Charter, it would be a way for students to feel right to say that they want respectful dialogue, that they want to treat living entities with respect. I think it empowers them, and that’s one simple thing that I want to do.
I’m quite excited about this. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m anxious to do so. Of course, we don’t take our affiliations lightly, so this is an important affiliation for us, the affiliation with the Earth Charter. We want to continue working with Earth Charter International to see if we can connect, because the Earth Charter is about all of us, it’s not about us in North America, or us in Europe, or us in Asia. It’s about all of us working together. One of my goals for 2015 is to reach out and tie those threads together so we can finally start working together on projects that promote the Earth Charter.
Also, the other day we talked about mailing art pieces, which is called Artist trading cards, or ATC. It’s an art form that has been around for well over two decades. They are a baseball card-sized card with art on it and they are traded all over the world. What if we were to ask people to start ATCs based on the principles of the EC? We could create a seed gallery, send it to different communities as an exmaple and inspiration. That’s exciting to me because it involves any age group, artist or non-artist. It’s not about being an artist, but showing in visuals and texts whatever format of expression someone chooses, to support their values and principles of equality, fairness, democracy, whatever it might be. That’s another thing that I’d like to work on for the EC+15 celebrations next year.
D) As part of the affiliation to Earth Charter International you have agreed to try to help us with some fund raising. Why did you feel that that was important that you were willing to have that as part of the agreement between our organizations?
V) I think fundraising is one of the four pillars of sustainability. The economic is essential in order to ensure that we can continue telling the story of sustainability, of one world, one earth. So we absolutely must have funds coming into the organization, to allow the message to be spread across the globe and also to assist those who need that face-to-face to get down to Costa Rica where the courses are taking place. It is going to be essential that we have those individuals that can go back into their communities and share that information. There’s often no better way of doing that than with that face-to-face, being able to talk, meet with other people, feel the earth we are walking on. So, I think it’s very important that we do that fundraising in order to build capacity for Earth Charter International. It’s going to be important for the future of our world to have strong non-profits whose main focus is on the well-being of our planet. We are talking about trying to change the way people think and behave. There can be no better investment than that in my view.
D) Thanks so much for taking the time today to talk with me, for sharing your inspirational voice, and for your intention to work with us to build a better a future.
Guest post by Linda Hill, Inclusive Leadership Co-operative
“The emergence of a global civil society is creating new opportunities to build a democratic and humane world. Our environmental, economic, political, social, and spiritual challenges are interconnected, and together we can forge inclusive solutions.” (Earth Charter 2000: Preamble)
Since 2003, several thousand “Inclusive Leaders” from diverse generations, cultures, identities and other backgrounds have been introduced to the Earth Charter while participating in Inclusive Leadership events held on Southern Vancouver Island, BC, Canada. The August 22 to 25 2014 Inclusive Leadership Gathering engaged over seventy people in developing skills for connecting with diversity, communicating with compassion, standing up for inclusion, and building bridges between groups. The gathering was hosted by the Inclusive Leadership Co-operative (ILC) (www.inclusiveleadershipco-op.org), a non-profit community service association that applies the Earth Charter as a framework for building a sustainable world based on respect for the magnificent diversity in all living beings. According to the ILC, Inclusive Leadership skills are essential tools for bringing the pillars and principles of the Earth Charter to life in our families, communities and the wider world.
Throughout the four-day gathering participants chose a variety of skill-building workshops aimed at bringing ”…forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace’ (Earth Charter 2000: Preamble). On the third day, a workshop that specifically focused on the Earth Charter was offered by ecopyschologist and Earth Charter activist John Scull. John began this session with a reading from the Preamble and Way Forward and a brief powerpoint presentation on the history and background of the Earth Charter. Participants then discussed individual principles and brainstormed how we could apply these in our personal lives, in our communities, and in government actions.
Here are a few comments from participants and facilitators about this experiential education approach to building leadership skills for implementing the Earth Charter:
“The Earth Charter encourages us to ‘…honor and support the young people of our communities, enabling them to fulfill their essential role in creating sustainable societies.’ The Inclusive Leadership Gathering was a truly inter-generational event. I was grateful to work with elders as well as very young youth. I learned a lot about how I need to be more childlike in my group work as well as how to be more creative and collaborative.”
“Copies of the Earth Charter should be placed in libraries, coffee shops, and other public places. People need to know about this.”
“A concept that came alive for me was the idea of diversity bringing strength (in nature, through evolution, adaptation etc.). You can apply this concept to human society too – diversity in culture, experiences etc. can make us stronger through the development of ideas/solutions to some of our biggest challenges.”
“The workshops on non-violent, compassionate communication were incredibly helpful for ‘…promoting a culture of tolerance, non-violence and peace.’ Compassionate communication is so useful and practical and should be taught to everyone as early as possible. I know I will be using the information and skills that were taught in my life.”
“The Earth Charter is great for helping NGOs to look beyond their specific missions. Environmental groups can concern themselves with economic justice, social organizations can be more environmentally conscious, and so on.”
The Inclusive Leadership Co-operative will be organizing one or more Inclusive Leadership Gatherings in 2015. For more information about this experiential approach to Earth Charter education contact [email protected] or visit their website: www.inclusiveleadershipco-op.org
The Earth Charter, Ecological Integrity and Social Movements is a recently published book
edited by Laura Westra and Earth Charter International Director Mirian Vilela. This book offers a variety of perspectives through a collection of 19 chapters written by scholars from universities situated in different parts of the world. It provides a series of analyses of issues of concern in terms of ecological integrity, international law for
human rights and social movements and it relates them to the Earth Charter. The book also shows the strong connection between ecological
integrity and social justice, particularly in the defense of indigenous people. It includes contributions from both the North and the global South,
specifically from Central and South America.
Among the chapters are submissions by climate ethics specialist Don Brown, by international
law academic Klaus Bosselmann on the Rule of Law Grounded in Earth, and by Leonardo Boff and
Mirian Vilela on the social movements in Brazil. The other chapters are equally compelling comprising papers from
all over the world and from many esteemed universities.
You can purchase the book here and see the pdf attachment at the bottom of the article to receive a 20% discount with your purchase.
the book’s contents:
Prologue: Summons to a New Axial Age: The Promise, Limits, and
Future of the Earth Charter
Part 1: The Earth Charter and the Search for
1. The Rule of Law Grounded in the Earth: Ecological Integrity as
2. The Earth Charter, the Commons and the Common Heritage of
3. Realising Earth Democracy: Governance from Below
Part 2: International Law, Ethics and Social
4. The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human
Rights: Presenting the Problem as the Solution
5. Norms For Scientific Claims Made in The Face of Scientific
Uncertainty: Lessons From the Climate Change Disinformation Campaign
6. What a Difference a Disaster Makes-or Doesn’t: A Comparative
Case Study of Governmental and Popular Responses to Hurricanes Katrina and
Part 3: International Law, Human Rights and
7. The Law of Transboundary Groundwater
8. Oceans for Sale
Jeff Brown and Abby Sandy
9. Land Grabbing, Food Security and the Environment: Human Rights
Onita Das and Evadné Grant
10. Is a Green New Deal Strategy a Sustainable Response to the
Social and Ecological Challenges of the Present World?
11. Frack Off! – Law, Policy, Social Resistance, Coal Seam Gas
Mining and the Earth Charter
Part 4: Indigenous Voices for Integrity
12. Canadian Avatar: Reshaping Relationships Through Indigenous
13. Sharing the River of Life: The Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign
14. Indigenous Laws and Aspirations for a Sustainable World
Linda Te Aho
15. Moving Toward Global Eco-Integrity: Implementing Indigenous
Conceptions of Nature in a Western Legal System
Catherine Iorns Magallanes
Part 5: Government Decisions, Environmental
Policies and Social Movements
16. Society, Changes and Social Movements: The Case of Brazil
Leonardo Boff and Mirian Vilela
17. Environmental Sustainability Beyond The Law: A Venezuelan
María Elisa Febres
18. Costa Rica: The First Latin American Country Free of Open Pit
Eugenia Wo Ching
19. The Earth Charter. An Environmental Policy Instrument in
Mexico – a Soft Law or Hard Policy Perspective
On Monday, April 22nd from 1:00pm to 2:30pm (Costa Rica time), the Earth Charter Center for Education for Sustainable Development at the University for Peace will host an Earth Day Celebration with Severn Cullis Suzuki-Cullis on “Understanding our interconnections and recognizing our responsibilities”.
Earlier on the same day from 16:00 to 17:30h GMT (10:00am to 11:30am Costa Rica time) Severn Cullis-Suzuki will be our guest in a webinar on “Empowering a new generation of sustainability leaders through education”.
Then click on the “Launch Class” button, type your name and country (e.g. MaryCanada) and then enter the virtual room. Requirements: Have Adobe Flashplayer installed, audio input and output, and a good internet connection.
This event is part of the UNESCO Chair on Education for Sustainable Development with the Earth Charter.
Severn Cullis-Suzuki is a Canadian environmental activist, speaker, television host and author. She has spoken around the world about environmental issues, urging listeners to define their values, act with the future in mind, and take individual responsibility. She became very famous as “the 12 year old girl who silenced the world” following the wonderful speech she delivered at the Earth Summit in 1992. She is also an Earth Charter Commissioner and the daughter of Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki. Severn Cullis-Suzuki is the main character in the documentary film Severn, the Voice of Our Children, directed by Jean-Paul Jaud and released theatrically in France on November 10, 2010. In 1993, she was honoured in the United Nations Environment Programme’s Global 500 Roll of Honour. She holds a B.Sc. in Biology from Yale University and an M.Sc. in Ethnoecology from the University of Victoria, where she studied with elders from the Kwakwaka’wakw First Nations.
Transformative Teaching and Learning with the Earth Charter
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.