Canada Archives - Earth Charter

Leadership, Sustainability, and Ethics Online Youth Course has Started and Next one in Spanish Begins 11 Sept!

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Our fifth Leadership, Sustainability, and Ethics online youth course in English started on 19 June. With 25 youth representing over 13 nations we are thrilled to be interacting and engaging youth from so many countries such as Kenya, Nigeria, Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Japan, India, Spain, US, UK, Netherlands, and Canada. The 10-week course will end on 28 August and will cover topics such as Leadership, Sustainability, Ecoliteracy, Systems Thinking, Ethics, Facilitation, the Earth Charter.

The course is being co-facilitated by Youth Projects Coordinator Christine Lacayo and Earth Charter Young Leaders, Victor Okechukwu from Nigeria and Rohdof Lactem from Cameroon.

We have some extremely inspiring and sharp youth in this course; representatives from UN Major Group for Children and Youth, 4 people from the National Union of Students in the UK, someone who is actively involved with the Agenda 21 in the Basque region of Spain, the head of a team of 8 passionate youth in Cameroon who form part of the Hope for the World Youth Association which seeks to bring hope to hopeless communities through entrepreneurship, youth capacity building programs, and someone from the Lopez Community Land Trust (LCLT) in Washington state, a non-profit organization on a small island making sustainable communities a reality by holding land in trust for residents of the island and building affordable homes for low income individuals.

Here are some inspiring quotes from the participants with the following forum question: When you dream about a better future, what are three things you envision?

“I envision a future where all basic needs are met. No one will worry about what they will eat, what they will wear, where they will live, or if they can afford to care for their medical needs. The future I envision has no place for greedy persons. There will be perfect leadership, exacting just judgments. In this world that I envision, no one will be convicted of crimes that they didn’t commit. If someone is disciplined or charged with something, they will have to acknowledge that the judgment pronounced on them was just and well deserved. I envision a world full of peace and true happiness. I believe that with the proper leadership and guidance this future will exist for mankind. I must take the first step to be the change that I want to see.” –Quaniqua Williams, USA

 

 

“I dream of a world where people are caring towards other people and other animals whom we share our planet with- there are so many injustices towards other human beings that is it difficult to think of a time where we will respect all humans and animals on this planet with equal rights to feel safe, secure and free in our world. Also where all humans understand the true meaning of peace and conflicts and war are no longer an issue. Ultimately where people and planet can thrive and where nature can support all human and animal life on the planet and the people can respect and support nature.” – Hannah Wiseman, UK

 

“A future in which human rights are respected. A future in which the basic needs of each individual are covered in a sustainable way. Where the production chain, starting with the procurement of the raw material, its handling, consumption and disposal is done in a responsible way and respecting the social and environmental rights of all involved.” – Itxaso Bengoechea Larrinaga, Spain

“The three most important things for a better future for me would be reduced economic inequalities within and between communities and countries, drastic decline in diseases such as malaria, cholera and HIV in developing countries and quality/affordable basic education for all children up until the tertiary level. I believe that if the world will truly become sustainable firstly we need to educate and equip as many people as possible in a short period of time. I believe that quality education will birth solutions that will unlock other Sustainable goals.”

– Olabanji Jackson-oke, Nigeria

Our next online youth training programme will be in Spanish and will begin on 11 September until 20 November. Deadline to apply is 28 August! Email Christine Lacayo, Youth Projects Coordinator if you are interested in registering for our next course: Youthcooridantor@earthcharter.orgLSE Spanish Sept

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10-week Youth Online Training Course: Leadership, Sustainability, and Ethics to Start 19 June, Deadline to Apply 17 May!

Don’t miss the deadline to sign up for our next 10-week youth online training programme in Leadership, Sustainability, and Ethics. The course will begin on 19 June and participants will need to apply by programaWednesday 17 May! This course is designed to train young people around the world, from the ages of 18-30, on how to become active leaders in their community towards a more just, sustainable, and ethical world.

The course will offer you an opportunity to expand your knowledge and skills on certain themes such as leadership, ethics, sustainability, Earth Charter principles, Eco literacy, Systems Thinking, and how to successfully design and implement a workshop in your community.

Our goal at the end of the course is to successfully strengthen your knowledge and skills on leadership in sustainability, enhance your consciousness to contribute to the greater good, inspire like-minded individuals to collaborate across borders and to carry out your work in your communities, and develop the confidence to use your voice as a leader!

Alumni of this course have the opportunity to become an Earth Charter Young Leader (ECYL). This programme is a year-long leadership opportunity to serve as a focal point in the Earth Charter Youth Network to mobilize and engage other young people around the Earth Charter vision and principles.

Register now by visiting our site:  http://earthcharter.org/events/leadership-sustainability-ethics-june-2017/

 

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ECI in Ottawa for the UNESCO Week on Peace and Sustainable Development

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© Canadian Commission for UNESCO (CCUNESCO)

On 6 to 10 March, 2017, two Earth Charter International Secretariat staff attended the UNESCO Week on Peace and Sustainable Development in Ottawa, Canada. The weeklong event brought together over 400 people, including 50 youth delegates, from two transformational movements in education: Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and Global Citizenship Education (GCED). These two spheres have the shared purpose of preparing people to create more peaceful, just and sustainable societies.

The event opened with acknowledgement to the indigenous territory where the event was held, and with an opening ceremony and remarks from Maliseet Elder Mac Saulis. Speeches, panel discussions, presentations, workshops, intergenerational dialogues, a world café, and music were to follow throughout the five days. Participants from government, NGOs, businesses, and educational institutions presented their various projects, initiatives, and goals, and dialogued around the future direction and challenges for ESD and GCED as well as possibilities for collaboration.

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© Canadian Commission for UNESCO (CCUNESCO)

Woven throughout the various presentations and activities during the week, three themes continued to arise: engaging young people, technological innovations, and capacity building for teachers. On the theme of engaging young people, UNESCO built this into the very structure of the event, selecting and brining 50 youth delegates to Ottawa for the week. These delegates, specially selected from thousands of applicants, came representing different organizations and networks related to ESD and GCED.

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© UNESCO/Julie Saito

One the Action Areas of GAP is on mobilizing and engaging youth in ESD. Partner Network 4, a network of organizations recognized by UNESCO for their contribution in this area, has met annually at these GAP meetings to scale up, build synergies, and implement a flagship project related to mobilizing youth in ESD. Earth Charter International (ECI) holds a co-chair for GAP Partner Network 4, and recently designed the ESD Leadership training script as part of the Flagship project.

During the week, key partners in Partner Network 4 met to offer feedback on the new training script, to debrief on their experiences running pilot workshops, and to plan the following phases of the Flagship—an ESD Young Leaders Network for training alumni and an ESD Young Leaders Conference in 2018. Meanwhile, all key partners across all five Partner Networks reviewed their collective progress toward their GAP commitments and flagship projects.

Using technology and social media to engage young people was another recurring theme. One way that ECI is rising to this challenge is through one of their GAP Commitments, a 10-week online training for young leaders in ¨Leadership, Sustainability and Ethics¨ which includes weekly tasks online and offline. In addition, ECI has developed and launched a free photo-sharing app, MAPTING, in collaboration with Soka Gakkai International, for sharing positive actions contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The photos and videos are linked to the related SDGs and Earth Charter principles and pinned to a shared world map. Other organizations are finding new ways of using social media, digital story telling, virtual reality, and online platforms to expand, enhance, and develop new ways of doing ESD.

student-teacher-coordinator-online-esd-courseIn addition to youth participation and new technologies, many participants were focused on training teachers for ESD and GCED. In this area, ECI was able to share their online certificate programmes and intensive in-person courses for educators on Transformative Learning while learning about the platforms, methods, content, and structures that other organizations are using or considering.

Beyond participating in the planned events during the event, ECI staff were delighted to reunite with old Earth Charter friends, meet students and professors from online courses in person, and meet new potential partners and collaborators. They were also keen to ground ethics and values as the foundation of the dialogue on education for a more just, sustainable, and peaceful world.

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Habitat III, the New Urban Agenda and the Earth Charter

Article by: Mallora Rayner, Earth Charter Canada Network

dsc_0164On behalf of Earth Charter International, Walas sent a delegation to Quito, Ecuador for Habitat III. A record number of thought leaders, citizens and government officials from 167 countries gathered for the third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) in October 2016.

Focusing on the future of cities, the conference offered a full schedule of events, assemblies and dialogues to guide our global actions for the next 20 years in sustainable and transformative urban development.

The culmination was the adoption of the New Urban Agenda. The New Urban Agenda is an action oriented document intended to set global standards of achievement in sustainable urban development in alignment with the values and principles defined in the Earth Charter.

 

 

dsc_0173As part of the events, Earth Charter friend and affiliate Gerben van Straaten joined UNEP for a panel discussion on “Better Cities, Better Lifestyles” held on 18 October.

The session explored the need for holistic approaches, how to engage individuals in more sustainable community development and understanding why we make the choices we do to consume, individually and as a society, and was very well received.

It was exhilarating to see the excitement around the values and principles of the Earth Charter. From around the globe, other delegations and local workers, the Earth Charter received so much respect and love.

dsc_0175-1As a result of our joint presence in Quito, we are exploring further collaboration and engaging with requests from all over the globe to work together, and share our stories about social responsibility, sustainable community development, and the Earth Charter.

 

 

 

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Earth Charter Canada celebrates Earth Charter Day

EC Canada EC Day 1On June 29th, Earth Charter Canada and the Vancouver-based Walas family celebrated Earth Charter Anniversary, at Dudoc Vancouver.EC Canada logo
Around 100 people attended to celebrate, share their stories, and learn more about the Earth Charter.
The evening EC Canada EC Day 2brought 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.

EC Canada EC Day 4Attendees made wishes for the Earth, and found many common themes.

The graphic below represents many of the wishes.

EC Canada EC Day 3

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Tribute to Maurice F. Strong (1929 – 2015)

 “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

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“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

Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau’s statement.

Al Gore’s statement.

UNEP statement.

The Guardian article, Maurice Strong: A Sustainable Life by Felix Dodds

The New York Times article AP, UN: Maurice Strong, Climate and Development Pioneer, Dies

A tribute from Ronald Leger.

Please, feel free to leave a tribute message of your own in the comment section below.

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Canada’s election bring hope for renewed values

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.

Photo of Justin Trudeau by Alex Guibord

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Longtime Earth Charter supporter sets up scholarship fund

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.

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Elizabeth May: Why Pope Francis’s statement is important

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)
julian.morelli@greenparty.ca

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Inclusive Leaders Explore the Earth Charter

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.”

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