Costa Rica Archives - Earth Charter

Reflections as the New Earth Charter Youth Projects Coordinator

By: Christine Lacayo

My first month of work ends and I’m excited to share some of my reflections!

As the Earth Charter Youth Projects ChristineECCoordinator, my main responsibility is to motivate, guide, and engage young people to create a more just, sustainable and peaceful world. What is the best way to do this? I think the beauty of this position is the flexibility and creativity the job requires. I have the ability to incorporate my passions and interests to expand and create new opportunities and stories. I’m excited to bring my passion for visual media and writing to collect all Earth Charter Youth actions and stories that are taking place around the world. As an ocean advocate, I would also like to continue sensitizing my community members on the importance of taking care of our ocean ecosystems!

Some of the main projects I’m focusing on now include promoting our app Mapting, used to take pictures of actions related the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We have our next photo competition to celebrate International Day for Biological Diversity starting from 12-22 May.Mapting_FB_AD

I’m also facilitating our next online training programme for youth, Leadership, Sustainability, and Ethics (LSE) starting 19 June. This 10-week course is designed to prepare and empower young people with the skills and knowledge to be effective ethical sustainability leaders and implement Earth Charter-inspired projects.

One of my favorite roles of my job is having a group of Earth Charter Young Leaders, those who have completed the LSE course, from all over the world. These leaders are from countries such as St. Lucia, Germany, Kenya, Nigeria, Japan, Netherlands, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Serbia, Rwanda, and Spain, just to name a few! My responsibility is to support them along their year commitment as an Earth Charter Young Leader implementing activities and workshops in their community.

I’m also diving into the Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) Leadership Training Programme created by esd-training-flierEarth Charter International for the UNESCO Global Action Program (GAP) on ESD focusing on priority area number 4: empowering and mobilizing youth. The training is designed for young people from 18-35 who are active leaders in sustainable development in their communities.  At the beginning of July, I will be co-facilitating the training programme in Brasilia, Brazil for selected young leaders from across Latin America!

I’m very excited to start this dynamic new job not to mention the stunning nature views and sounds from my office! I’m happy to be back in the country I grew up visiting as my second home while promoting a more peaceful and sustainable world using the skills and knowledge I’ve gained from my studies and experiences!IMG_0032




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Reflections from our Online Course: Leadership, Sustainability, and Ethics

As we close our 5th week of the second online course in Spanish, Leadership, Sustainability, and Ethics, we have had much enthusiasm, energy and student cooperation. This course began on April 3 and will end on June 12 with the participation of young leaders from all over Latin America facilitated by Earth Charter Young Leaders, Julián Arias Varela and Karen Proa, and Youth Projects Coordinator, Christine

The international course is aimed at young people between the ages of 18 and 30 who want to expand their capacity as leaders in sustainability and leadership. As participants complete the sections through an online platform, they learn important information about Sustainability, Ethics, Facilitation, and the Earth Charter. The course is also given in English with the next beginning on June 19 and the deadline to apply on May 17. The next course in Spanish will begin on September 11 with registration one month before. At the end of the 10 weeks, participants are invited to become an Earth Charter Young Leader for a year in the Earth Charter Youth Network. Young leaders connect, motivate and engage with their contemporaries to join the Earth Charter movement and build a more peaceful, just and sustainable world.

Personal reflections of our current participants:

“This is the opportunity to start with the change that we are always looking for but haven’t found. The learning space is incredible, I am committed and I will make a double effort for those who do not.”

-José Ignacio Fernández Víquez, Costa Rica

“Being part of a global movement of young leaders who dream of a more humane, more free and conscious world, gives me strength to continue fighting, but above all hope that the good do not keep quite nor gain indifference.”

-Pamela Zúñiga López, Costa Rica

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Transformative Learning and the Earth Charter Course

transformative-learning-hathawayFrom February 20 to 24, the Earth Charter Center for ESD successfully offered for the 3rd time the Executive Programme: “Education for Sustainability, Transformative Learning and the Earth Charter” facilitated by Mark Hathaway and Mirian Vilela.

A group of 23 people from different sectors have immersed themselves in this intensive week long programme to expand understanding on the Earth Charter, Education for Sustainable Development and experience related pedagogies of learning based on values for sustainability.

“(In this course I have acquired new knowledge) which has made me think about how we could explicitly apply the Earth Charter in organizational processes.” Participant’s evaluation (Costa Rica)

The course has been very interactive. Using hands, body, mind and spirit, participants have deepen their knowledge of the Earth Charter principles and transformative learning.

This course is offered in Spanish once a year, in February. We look forward to seeing you next year!

“I was fascinated by this course and for having the opportunity to meet such special people … The experience was both fabulous and necessary.” Participant’s evaluation (Costa Rica)



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Earth Charter article published in Ambientico Magazine, UNA Costa Rica

Revista AmbienticoWe would like to share the October 2016 issue of Ambientico Magazine, published by the School of Environmental Sciences at the National University of Costa Rica. The publication develops an analysis of the work that has been done in 2016 in the public universities of Costa Rica, as part of the initiative of the Universities for Mother Earth year.

This volume includes an article on the Earth Charter and its integration in efforts to hold, within the universities, an ethic of respect and care for Mother Earth.

This issue of the Ambientico magazine is available here (available in Spanish only). To have access to the printed version please write to:

Content of this issue:

  • José Luis Zúñiga Zúñiga. EARTH ASKS FOR JUSTICE




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From the EC Youth Network to Deputy Minister of Water, Oceans, Coasts and Wetlands

Fernando is the Deputy Minister in charge of Water, Seas, Coasts and Wetlands in the Ministry of Environment and Energy of the Republic of Costa Rica. His main goal as Deputy Minister is to lead, together with other institutions, the reform and creation of public policies related to water resources, wetlands, coastal and marine areas, and developing environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive processes where welfare and human security are promoted along with the stability and health of ecosystems.

He currently holds the positions of: Representative of the Minister of Environment and Energy on the Executive Boards of the Institute of Rural Development and the National Commission of Risk Prevention and Emergency Response and as the President of the Presidential Social Council and on the Board of Pacific Marine Park.

fernando-d-mora-rodriguez-at-his-deskIn the months of October and November 2011, I had the opportunity to attend, by invitation, the “Youth Leadership, Environmental Sustainability and Ethics” program, organized by Youth Action for Change and Earth Charter International. It was at that moment that I discovered the Earth Charter.

At the time, I had environmental projects in common with my associate Marcello Hernandez, Youth Coordinator at Earth Charter International. We were both part of a Costa Rican nonprofit organization called

The Earth Charter course  was an excellent opportunity to share with young people across the planet, to learn about their ideals and experiences on such important topics as ethics, leadership, social commitment and environmental sustainability.

Today I apply those learnings in my daily work as a citizen and as Deputy Minister in Costa Rica, where the vocation for a better tomorrow allows us to harmonize state policies to achieve a more inclusive and more environmentally conscious country.


In recent years, I have led processes to improve environmental conservation, sustainable use and regulation of aquatic resources, which include the formulation of the National Wetland Policy in Costa Rica, the Institutional Marine Plan of the Ministry of Environment and Energy the Tica Water Fund.

During the month of February 2016, I served as President at the Second Meeting of Signatories to the Memorandum of Understanding of Migratory Sharks of the Convention on Migratory Species (UNEP) was held in Costa Rica). In 2016, part of the efforts will focus on achieving actions around the Marine Spatial Planning, control and surveillance of maritime areas and the consolidation of important sites for Marine Conservation, a strategy to promote the conservation sea turtles, among others.

I have had the opportunity to participate in various projects, workshops, conferences and courses related to issues of Planning and Land Use Planning, Geomatics (digital Cartography and Geographic Information Systems), Risk Management and Disaster, Climate Change (greater emphasis on Adaptation), coastal management and wetlands (greater emphasis on mangroves), geomorphology (greater emphasis on coastal geomorphology) and local community development.

Leadership as a young person and the principles of environmental ethics are precisely the strengths that have allowed me to assertively carry out my position, achieving a series of actions and new visions for creating an increasingly inclusive, supportive, and committed environmental policy which cares for the the welfare of the people and a healthy and ecologically balanced environment.

Young people are ready to lead, and are leading now. Today, we have the opportunity to bring about change hand in hand with the other generations. We can inspire change, working to develop sustainable societies that respect and allow for a healthy, stable, and balanced environment.

References to some of Fernando´s publications are:

  • Silva, M., Picado, J., Mora, F. and Gonzalez, C. 2015. Sedimentological implications of the change in the coverage of mangrove forest in Boca Zacate, Wetland Nacioanl Térraba-Sierpe, Costa Rica. Rev. Biol. Trop. (Int J. Biol Trop ISSN 0034-7744-…) Vol 63 (3):. 591-601. Available in
  • Mora, F. 2014. Outlook: Policy adaptation to climate change in coastal areas, alternative for communities in Costa Rica. Available in ISBN 978-9977-961-44-6
  • Mora, F. 2014. The community and local scale intervention in the development of Costa Rica’s South Pacific region. In Rodriguez, M. (Coordinadora). academic experiences in the South Pacific. Grafos Lithography (1 Ed.). Cartago, Costa Rica. ISBN 978-9968-619-39-4
  • Mora, F. 2014. Notes: Towards adaptation policies in coastal areas. Available in .pdf
  • Alvarez, C. Mora, F. 2013. Outlook: Community adaptation to climate change. Available in ISBN 978-

For information on current Earth Charter International youth courses, similar to the one that Fernando took, please visit:

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New Summit Academy and Queens University discover the Earth Charter at the ECI Center for Education for Sustainable Development

On 13 May, 2016, eleven students and three teachers from New Summit Academy (NSA), a small, therapeutic boarding school for 32 adolescent males aged 15 – 18, based in Atenas, Costa Rica, took part in a leadership, sustainability and ethics workshop offered by Earth Charter International.  The young men who come from all over the USA and Canada and enrol for 12 months at NSA, are often overcoming struggles with mood swings, ADHD, anxiety, substance abuse, identity, and self-esteem.


Just a couple weeks later, on 22 May, 2016, 22 undergraduate students from Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina visited Earth Charter International at the University for Peace campus in El Rodeo, Costa Rica as part of 2-week programme with Immersion Abroad (  Immersion Abroad, an educational tourism company, led the students through a variety of experiences in Costa Rica which included homestays, cooking classes, dance shows, and a visit to the Earth Charter International Secretariat (ECI) to learn about sustainability. Sarah Dobson, the Youth Projects Coordinator, Lesley-Jane Davies and Carolina Bermudez, Youth Education Interns at Earth Charter International, designed and facilitated interactive, holistic workshops on Leadership, Sustainability, and Ethics.


The workshops followed similar formats. To begin, students formed a close circle and stretched to join hands with two others in other parts of the circle forming a human knot.  Once tangled together, they needed to find a way to untangle themselves and return to the shape of a circle without releasing one another’s´ hands.  They spent the next 30 minutes trying to undo the human knot they had formed.  Some sections of the circle were disentangled with more ease than others, but the activity was only complete once all were back in one complete circle. Reflections on the activity elicited responses of discomfort, pain, frustration, irritation, joy, and celebration as well as the importance of perseverance in the face of difficulty, listening to one another, leadership, and teamwork.  Students recognised the interconnectivity of their dilemma and how one person’s actions impacted another’s, often with unanticipated and unintended results, drawing parallels between the problems and potential solutions for sustainability.


One facilitator then told the story about the creation of the Earth Charter allowing students to guess at true/false statements at each stage of the story which involved a decade-long, worldwide, cross-cultural, civil society dialogue on common goals and shared values that ultimately culminated in an inclusive vision and guide for sustainable development.  This vision and guide became the Earth Charter.

Both workshops then provided space for students to engage with the text of the Earth Charter in small groups, sharing personal stories, and dialoguing around their own values. It was then time for the Earth Charter to come alive, and students acted out skits of different principles and ethical dilemmas allowing others to dive into the skit and guess the principle and dilemmas being dramatized.  A few principles that participants selected to act out included: Principle 16 “Promote a culture of tolerance, non-violence and peace”, the focus of the Earth Charter Initiative in 2016, and Principle 7 “Adopt patterns of production, consumption and reproduction that safeguard Earth’s regenerative capacities, human rights, and community well-being”.


A closing circle revealed thoughtful reflections on sustainability, ethics, and leadership; conviction around the interrelated nature of our actions, lifestyles, and futures; and curiosity around generating the inspiration, motivation, and values needed in the transition towards social, economic and environmental sustainability. New Summit Academy and Immersion Abroad both plan to continue bringing groups to Earth Charter International to foster in their students sustainability leadership and a sense of respect and care for the community of life.


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Workshops during the exhibit “Homage to Earth”

Taller Colegio Yurusti 29 Junio 1Taking advantage of the interesting and beautiful exhibition “Homage to Earth” at the National Gallery of Costa Rica, the Earth Charter Center for Education for Sustainable Development organized two workshops.

The first workshop was held on June 28th, 2016, organized in conjunction with the Commission on Environmental Education of the National Council of Rectors of Costa Rica (CONARE).

Around 35 teachers and curriculum advisors participated, from four public universities in Costa Rica: The National University, University of Costa Rica, National Technical University and Distance State University.

Taller CONARE 28 Jun 3The workshop lasted 4 hours, during the first half of the workshop, the participants had the opportunity to learn more about the Earth Charter; later they learned about an initiative that helps include the concepts of sustainability and environment in the curriculum of different careers in these universities, using indicators aimed at this purpose.

Taller Colegio Yurusti 29 Junio 2The second workshop was conducted on June 29th, on Earth Charter Day, with young people between ages 13 to 16, from the Yurusti College in Costa Rica. We offered an interactive talk about the Earth Charter and then, as we did with the adult group the day before, they explored the exhibit “Homage to Earth” using the Earth Charter.

Taller CONARE 28 Jun 2We ask them to form groups and choose one principle that called their attention, and then had them look for a work of art that expresses this principle. This activity turned out very fun, and it helped have moments of reflection on what the values of the Earth Charter express, and how art can help illustrate these concepts that are sometimes a little abstract.



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“Homage to Earth” exhibition, inspired by the Earth Charter

Exhibicion Carta de la Tierra 1The exhibit “Homage to Earth” at the National Gallery in Costa Rica, was inaugurated on June 16th, 2016. For this display, curators and artists used the Earth Charter as inspiration for their works.

20160616_205913The exhibition features the works of 40 artists, including painters, sculptors, and plastic artists of different techniques.


Arte foto 3Around 300 people participated in the opening. The Executive Director of Earth Charter International, Mirian Vilela, gave a speech during the ceremony, along with the Rector of the National University of Costa Rica, Mr. Alberto Salom, Mrs. Ana Ligia Guillén Ulate, Vice Chancellor of student life of the National Technical University, and the Director of the Foundation Ayúdanos para Ayudar, Mrs. Gloria Bejarano.
Click here to watch a video of the exhibition.


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Endorsement by the Technical National University in Costa Rica

Aval UTNThe Technical National University of Costa Rica, the most recently created public university in this country, endorsed the Earth Charter on June 17th, 2016, under the framework of the II Institutional Meeting of Humanities, named: “Humanistic Discussion for Mother Earth”.
The Rector of the University, Mr. Marcelo Prieto, signed the Aval UTNendorsement document, which mentions the commitment of the University to use the Earth Charter ¨as a guide and ethical framework for decision-making, in the development plans and policies, and as an educational tool for sustainable development¨.
20160611_095603As part of the interest generated by the Earth Charter in this educational institution, the Earth Charter Center was invited to speak at the IV Educational Technology Expo UTN 2016. The Earth Charter presentation was attended by around 250 educators, who are majoring in educational technologies at this university.



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Opportunities to Increase Your Knowledge About the Earth Charter

For the second semester of 2016, the Earth Charter Center for Education for Sustainable Development will be offering several learning opportunities on Ethics, Sustainability and the Earth Charter, both virtually and in the Center.

Certificate on Education for Sustainable Development

This is a Programas-Costa-Rica-Carta-Tierraprofessional development program, whose certificate is issued by the University for Peace and the Earth Charter Center for ESD, within the framework of the UNESCO Chair of ESD with the Earth Charter.

Two versions of the diploma are offered: in Spanish and Portuguese.
The deadline for entries is May 22, 2016. To register, visit the pages of the certificates:

Certificate on Education for Sustainable Development (Spanish only)

Programa Internacional de Aperfeiçoamento Profissional (PIAP), Educação para o Desenvolvimento Sustentável (Portuguese only)

Youth Programme:

This program is a 10-week training in Leadership, Sustainability, and Ethics for young people from different countries with ages between 18 and 30 years. It is offered with the aim to support participants in shaping the skills and knowledge to be a leader in sustainability and implement action projects inspired by the Earth Charter (EC) in their communities.
The Spanish version will begin in August. Applications are open.

Training in Leadership, Sustainability, and Ethics

Executive Programmes:

Just like other years, executives programmes are intensive learning experiences that take place in a week, at the Earth Charter Education Center in Costa Rica.

Programme: Education, Ethics, & Values for Sustainability: Transformative Teaching and Learning with the Earth Charter
18 – 22 July
Sam Crowel & Mirian Vilela



Programme: Sustainability, Leadership and Decision Making: Learning from Failures and Successes
14-18 November
Herman Mulder & Mirian Vilela

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Read the Earth Charter

We stand at a critical moment in Earth's history, a time when humanity must choose its future.
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