Earth Charter Initiative Education Archives - Earth Charter

Course on public policies of education for sustainable development, UNESCO GAP on ESD

The final phase of the Course on Formulation and Design of Public Policies for Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) was held from 12 to 14 September 2017. This was a special course that we planned and implemented at the request of the UNESCO San Jose Office with the support from the Japan Fund for ESD. The course’s objective was to: “Strengthen the capacities of senior level decision-makers and key personnel in the Ministries of Education and Environment of Central America and Dominican Republic for the development of Education for Sustainable Development Public Policies.” This effort is related to the first priority area of the UNESCO Global Action Programme on ESD and to the Sustainable Development Goal 4 Target 7.

Foto 16 Grupo

This course lasted three months (June to September), and had two modalities: face-to-face and virtual. The first part of the course consisted of face-to-face sessions for three intensive days, held at the Earth Charter Center of ESD facilities in the University for Peace, Costa Rica. It continued with a virtual phase that lasted seven weeks, where participants had the opportunity to deepen the topics introduced in the initial face-to-face phase. The course ended with a face-to-face meeting, also held at the EC-ESD Center in Costa Rica, where participants presented their final projects and proposed some actions to follow up this course.

In their assessment of the course, the participants mentioned having had a transformative experience, where some experienced a change in their worldviews and perception of the type of education that each country in the Central American Integration System (SICA) should promote. For their final projects, participants had to generate a proposal for an ESD public policy and an action plan for the design of this policy in their countries. These proposals were an exercise that it is expected to generate actions to instill the vision of ESD in their countries’ education systems.


Participante Curso Politicas Publicas Educacion Desarrollo Sostenible

For the Earth Charter Center on ESD, it was a great satisfaction to have developed this process in a way that helped participants to have a better understanding about sustainability, ESD and ways to generate a public policy on ESD. Some participants expressed that this experience help to generate what some called “a change of paradigm” or “falling in love” with sustainability. The majority of the participants are Ministry of Education officials who have the potential to promote changes in national education policy, curricula, as well as to promote sustainable schools and teacher training programs on ESD. We hope to continue supporting the empowerment process of these participants, so they become agents of change in their institutions and contribute to the 2030 UN Education Agenda.

Curso UNESCO Carta de la Tierra Politicas Educacion Desarrollo Sostenible

Logo UNESCO Japan

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AASHE endorses the Earth Charter!

AASHE Endorsement Earth CharterWe are happy to announce that the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) has endorsed the Earth Charter.

Established in 2005, AASHE is comprised of over 900 members across 48 U.S. states, 1 U.S. Territory, 9 Canadian provinces and 20 countries.

We asked Julian Dautremont-Smith, Director of Programs of AASHE, to share with all of us what is the meaning of the Earth Charter for them and why it was important to endorse it. This is what he shared:

AASHE is pleased to endorse the Earth Charter.

We greatly value the Charter’s comprehensive approach to sustainability, especially the inclusion of social and economic justice, democracy and peace along with ecological integrity.

We have a similarly holistic understanding of sustainability and refer the Earth Charter as a key document in understanding sustainability in our Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS), a self-reporting framework used by hundreds of colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. For example, a course is counted as being sustainability-inclusive if it contributes towards realizing one or more of the principles outlined in the Earth Charter.

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Tribute to Henriette Rasmussen (1950-2017)

Henriette RasmussenIt is with deep regret that we announce the passing away of Henriette Rasmussen, former Member of Parliament and Minister of Education and Culture of Greenland.

As a member of the Earth Charter Commission, Henriette was very active in the Earth Charter Initiative since early 1997. Henriette was a specially warm and friendly human being. Together with Finn Lynge, she has brought light and a unique contribution to the Earth Charter drafting process, underlining the perspective from the Indigenous People throughout. Once the Earth Charter drafting process was over, she tirelessly continued to bring in the Earth Charter to Greenland, working hard in the translation and publication of materials, infusing it in radio and education programmes and projects she was involved. She was a bridge between the Global Earth Charter movement and the Inuit people and culture, especially within the Inuit Circumpolar Conference.

The Earth Charter International pays tribute to Henriette for her life. She will be missed. We are very grateful for her grace, good energy and efforts, which were not in vain, as it inspired the lives of many.

In this link you can find one of the articles she wrote.

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Summerlabb: Bringing together art, music and sustainable cities in the Netherlands

earth-charter-stand-summerlabbWhat better place to share values and stories than at a festival? During the Summer of 2016, the Earth Charter Cities team partnered with Summerlabb, a traveling festival bringing together art, music, research institutes, polytechnic universities and sustainability companies. The festival explored our use of energy, water, light, architecture and food, and showcased inspiring innovations and solutions for communities driven to become more sustainable. Hundreds of children, adults, business professionals and music lovers from all over Holland gathered together to celebrate and learn. Surrounded by music, culture and art, participants explored sustainable innovations and their stories in Rotterdam, Groningen and several other cities in the Netherlands.

Earth Charter Cities is a collaborative movement that brings together passionate amateurs, experts, and organizations from across the world to inspire improvements in principle areas of the Earth Charter and the Earth Charter Cities Manifesto. This manifesto is a call to action developed by Gerben van Straaten of World of Walas to help communities realize the Earth Charter vision. After an almost two-year drafting process with key stakeholders of the Earth Charter, the Earth Charter Cities Manifesto was launched in The Hague in 2010.

waste-watchers-art-barrelGuided by the Earth Charter, Earth Charter Cities shared with festival goers on the importance of bringing ethics back into our lives and understanding the value and importance of sustainability. They encouraged visitors to tell their stories of connection to nature and our Earth, and were inspired by the story of the West Coast First Nations peoples who impart indigenous teachings for a more sustainable way of life in Canada. Artist James Jetlag translated the story of Earth Charter Cities into a beautiful work of art, one oil drum to represent each chapter of the Earth Charter/Earth Charter Cities Manifesto.

At Summerlabb, Earth Charter Cities raised awareness of the Earth Charter and promoted the understanding of its inclusive ethical vision through starting conversations about ethics with curious visitors and passersby. They invited others to heed the call to action to transition to sustainable ways of living on the planet and to envision future cities taking care of mother Earth and the community of life. They asked, beyond technical innovations, what are economic and social-cultural aspects of this transition? They shared the Earth Charter as a tool, an ethical guideline, for our daily and professional lives.

For more information on Gerben van Straaten and the story of the Earth Charter Cities Manifesto, please go to For more information on Summerlabb, visit


one-earth-communityAuthor: Nadine Huids, Earth Charter Young Leader

Nadine studied Built Environment and Architecture with a focus in cities and cultural heritage. During her studies she learned a lot about technical innovations and sustainability to redevelop industrial buildings. Taught and inspired by Gerben van Straaten, Walas Concepts CEO, she learned how to create truly healthy, inclusive, and sustainable communities. She believes in the need to enhance economic, social, and cultural values within urban settings. Driven by the Earth Charter and the Earth Charter Cities Manifesto, Nadine works in the Netherlands as a Program Manager with the Walas team to develop vital and lively places for people to live.

Editor: Josephine Schrott, Earth Charter Young Leader

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Dudoc Vancouver—A business model for sustainable design based on Earth Charter ethics


In the Canadian city of Vancouver, British Columbia, the Dutch Urban Design Centre (Dudoc) has Earth Charter Principle 7c at the core of its business model. Since opening its doors in October 2014, Dudoc Vancouver has been promoting the development, adoption and equitable transfer of environmentally sound technologies. Specifically, the centre showcases Dutch and other European companies’ environmentally sustainable products and services to the North American market. Dudoc Vancouver also serves as a forum for exchanging ideas among designers, urban planners, developers and architects across disciplines and continents.

Dudoc Vancouver’s goals, founded on the Earth Charter vision, are to:

  • Protect the environment and vital resources while creating positive outcomes for the communities in which we live.
  • Embrace creativity, innovation and change through diversity and inclusiveness.
  • Build enduring and reliable relationships through collaboration and engagement of citizens in our transition to a healthier world.
  • Induce change of current unsustainable practices by providing rational applications of our innovative techniques.
  • Provide visionary leadership and interactive management in the creation of healthy, resilient and diverse cities.


CEO Gerben van Straaten is part of the global Earth Charter movement. He was working as an urban designer in both the Netherlands and Canada and realized that there is a huge breadth and depth of technological and design innovation in the Netherlands. Meanwhile in Canada, demand for such innovations is growing rapidly. Van Straaten founded Dudoc to bridge the gap between these two places. North American city builders interested in making their projects more environmentally sustainable can now look to Dudoc for the latest European innovations.

An example of the partners exhibiting their products at Dudoc Vancouver is Jaga, a manufacturer of hydronic heaters. Jaga’s guiding values include respect for nature, as well as a passion for creativity, innovation and collaboration. Their energy-efficient systems help reduce the energy demand of buildings. They have also developed eco-design radiators made from 100% recycled materials, an example of applying Earth Charter principle 7a (reduction, reuse and recycling of materials). Dudoc Vancouver helps companies such as Jaga by providing a shared showroom space to exhibit products, international business development advice, market research, local connections and customer service.


In addition to the showroom, Dudoc facilitates the exchange of ideas that make our cities and buildings better places for all people. In the spirit of Earth Charter principle 14 on life-long learning, the centre enables a variety of activities in its space: panel discussions, educational talks, upcycling competitions, sustainable product showcases, art displays, exhibitions of Dutch Design, professional development workshops and more. Part of the space is used for flexible co-working for visiting partners as well as local freelancers and researchers. It also houses the City Hub Initiative – a space for young change-makers to meet, learn, and collaborate in order to make their projects a reality.

Through this combination of international business development, education and co-operation, Dudoc Vancouver strives to encourage sustainability in the built and social environment and aims to be a successful example of the Earth Charter in action.


To learn more about Dudoc Vancouver, visit or find Dudoc on TwitterFacebook, LinkedIn or Instagram.

Author: Josephine Schrott, Earth Charter Young Leader

Originally from Germany, but now calling Vancouver, Canada her home, Josephine Schrott is helping establish a Canadian Earth Charter network, with a focus on youth & community engagement. She studied International Relations and is passionate about building sustainable communities and inspired by the Earth Charter’s holistic approach addressing humanity’s most pressing problems. As part of World of Walas, she works at Dudoc Vancouver, a centre enabling European businesses to transfer their innovations to North America. In her time off, she does local activist and volunteer work and enjoys the beautiful Canadian outdoors.


jschrott[at], 604.681.2971
100-1445 West Georgia St; Vancouver, BC


  • “dudoc-vancouver-showroom” View of Dudoc Vancouver showroom. PC: Edward Lai
  • “dudoc-vancouver-roundtable” We Are Cities Roundtable. PC: Paula Leyton
  • “dudoc-vancouver-dutch-design-exhibition” Dutch Design Supermodels exhibition. PC: Anna Brayko
  • “dudoc-vancouver-upcycled-fashion” Upcycled Fashion Show. PC: Anna Brayko
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Global Goals Accelerator Meetings: Achieving the SDGs in the Netherlands


Global Goals Accelerator is an initiative to speed up consciousness and implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the Netherlands and beyond. The initiative was co-created by Sustainability Dialogue (Veronique Swinkels) and Earth Charter Netherlands (Alide Roerink) and carried out from June 7-July 5, 2016 with the support of various partners.


The collaborators organized a series of events, bringing together 30-40 diverse actors from different fields to focus in on a couple select SDGs per meeting. Each meeting began and ended with a young artist singing and playing a work related to the day’s theme, and was followed by presentations from top academics and practitioners who established the national and global context. Participants then had dinner together as they delved into conversations in small groups to discuss targeted solutions. Through this process, the Global Goals Accelerator engaged people across governmental and organizational sectors, both students and professionals, to take on the challenge of the SDGs in the Netherlands.


In addition to a greater awareness, urgency, and action directed toward the SDGs, the meetings have sparked new relationships and conversations, as participants continue their conversations on LinkedIn and plan to reconnect in August 2016.


More information is available in Dutch on the Global Goals Accelerator website:  Photo credits to Barry Jonas at GEOMAN photography.

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Forum on synergies about different UN education initiatives

On 20 March 2015, the Earth Charter International Secretariat organized the forum: “Finding Synergies, Building Bridges: Reorienting education towards sustainable development, sustainable consumption, and global citizenship”. The forum offered the chance for participants to analyze and clarify concepts of three interrelated United Nations education initiatives, in order to highlight each initiative’s respective importance, and identify common underlying values, synergies, and possible areas of collaboration. The discourse attempted to identify how the Earth Charter can further contribute to the process of clarifying values and be employed as an integrated ethical framework for these initiatives.  The event was organized as part of the 15th anniversary of the launch of the Earth Charter

The education initiatives discussed were:  Education for Sustainable Development, whose efforts have been coordinated by UNESCO; Education for Sustainable Consumption, coordinated by UNEP; and Global Citizenship Education, which is coordinated by the UN Secretary General’s office in together with UNESCO.

This one-day event took place at the Earth Charter Education Center located on the University for Peace campus in Costa Rica. Approximately 120 participants attended the Forum. It consisted of four sessions with panelists’ presentations and interaction with participants through questions and answers. The keynote speech was offered by Fritjof Capra, and Severn Cullis-Suzuki offered the closing remarks of this event.

Find more details about this event in the Forum’s Report.

Also find here a photo gallery.

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Article on the Earth Charter in Global Peace Education Initiative

The Global Campaign for Peace Education requested Earth Charter International Secretariat’s staff member Alicia Jimenez, to collaborate with an article for the Issue 119 of its newsletter for March 2015.

The title of the article is “Learning from each other: Pedagogical connections between peace education and education for sustainable development“.

The aim of this article is to analyze seven case studies presented in the publication “The heart of the matter. Infusing sustainability values in education. Experiences of ESD with the Earth Charter”, using as a framework four pedagogical principles of peace education:  Holistic understanding; Dialogue; Values formation and Critical empowerment.

Find the article in this link.

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EC Youth Group SynergY promotes social and economic justice for EC plus 15

Guest post by Simran Vedvyas, Earth Charter Youth UAE

Dubai Cares and its initiatives are supporting millions worldwide by their support to Education and the residents are very proud to join in.

“I have participated every year since the first walk took place and this is my 6th time” says Simran Vedvyas, the founder of SynergY and Country Activator for Earth Charter UAE.

Dubai Cares organizes this Walk for Education, which calls upon residents and organizations in the UAE to walk three kilometers in solidarity with the millions of children in developing countries that walk long distances on a daily basis to go to school.

SynergY took part in support of the Dubai Cares initiative but also in support of the Earth Charter +15 celebrations under the slogan “One Earth Community, One Common Destiny”. The members of SynergY enjoyed cheering and singing and even the group’s youngest participants Avishi Chauhan and Nithya Makin who are only six years old, completed the full walk.

SynergY has promoted the Walk through social media and has seen rise in number of participants each year. The group has a dedicated page for supporting the cause – says Aswathi Jayakumar, a student and group member. SynergY is constantly promoting and raising awareness about the Millennium Development Goals and Education for All is crucial and important, especially “Primary Education in developing countries”. SynergY learns from the Earth Charter and affirms gender equality and equity as prerequisites to sustainable development and to ensure universal access to education, health care, and economic opportunity. SynergY asks all members of civil society to reach out and find how they can support and teach at least one child and how this will make a difference.

To connect with SynergY-
And, like the facebook page –

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The Earth Charter at the UNESCO World Conference on ESD in Japan

The UNESCO World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development, was held in Nagoya, Japan from 10-12 November. Members of the Earth Charter International Secretariat, Council, Commissioners, and Affiliates participated in this important event.

This Conference celebrated the end of the UN Decade on ESD and the launch of the new Global Action Programme on ESD (GAP), offering a good opportunity to galvanize political support and forge new impetus for this process with a call for renewed commitment.

Around 1,000 people from all over the world participated in the Conference including 76 ministerial-level representatives of UNESCO Member States (mostly from African and Asian countries), NGOs, academia, the private sector, and UN agencies, as well as individual experts and youth participants from 150 countries.

At the Conference, UNESCO presented the Final Report of the Decade. This was preceded by two reports, the first one published in 2009 called ‘Review of Contexts and Structures for ESD’, which focused on contexts and structures for ESD. The second report published in 2012 called ‘Shaping the Education of Tomorrow’, which highlighted the processes and learning for ESD.

The final report launched during this Conference and called “Shaping the future we want: UN Decade oF ESD (2005 – 2014)” shows that progress has been made in raising awareness about ESD, in developing a number of national policies or programmes on ESD, in teacher training, and other efforts, but much more still needs to happen.

During the opening plenary, Mrs. Irina Bokhova highlighted the progress made on bringing forth the importance of education in sustainable development policies, and in changes in national policies to incorporate sustainable development in national curricula.

UNESCO sees this first ten-year effort as a solid foundation ground for future efforts on ESD, which will also involve strengthening the ESD part of the new Sustainable Development Goals of the UN Post-2015 agenda, which should also strengthen the links between education and sustainable development policies.

The following are specific outcomes of the Conference:

  • A political declaration that was drafted and adopted during the closing ceremony. The Aichi-Nagoya Declaration builds on the achievements of the Decade, the Bonn Declaration (2009) and the deliberations of the Conference and the Stakeholder Meetings which were held in Okayama. The Declaration also ensures that the outcomes of the Conference will be taken into account at the World Education Forum 2015 to be held in Incheon, Republic of Korea.
  • The Government of Japan announced the creation of an ESD global award.
  • A new Global Action Programme on ESD was launched (GAP). The overarching goal of the GAP is “to generate and scale up action in all levels and areas of education and learning to accelerate progress towards sustainable development”. There are five priority action areas of the GAP:  a) Advancing policy; b) transforming learning and training environments; c) Building capacities of educators and trainers; d) empowering and mobilizing youth; e) accelerating sustainable solutions at local level.
  • GAP Launch Commitments:  During the first semester of 2014, UNESCO called all sectors (governmental and non-governmental) to make specific commitments to implement the GAP. These commitments are plans for concrete activities that support one or more of the five Priority Action Areas. As of 12 November there were 360 commitments made (find the information in this map). During the closing ceremony, a commitment for each GAP priority area was presented. UNESCO selected ECI GAP Commitment on Youth to be presented at this plenary. ECI submitted two Commitments: one on teacher training and another one on youth empowerment and training, based on the work ECI has been doing and continues to do.

A number of workshops and side events as well as exhibitions, information booths were organized to offer more spaces for dialogue and sharing of experiences among all participants. In addition, several activities were organized to allow more participation of Japanese people.   Earth Charter International organized several activities to share its experiences during the DESD.

Earth Charter activities at WCESD:

On Monday, 10 November ECI held a side event at noon called “Looking back to forge the future: Lessons learned from values-based ESD experiences” In this event, with approximately 60 participants, the ECI Secretariat and Council members presented some of the work done over the past few years to contribute to the Decade and to promote sustainability values in different educational settings.

At this side event, ECI’s latest publication “The heart of the matter, infusing sustainability values in education. Experiences of ESD with the Earth Charter” was launched. This publication presents19 stories of how different groups are using the Earth Charter in their educational settings (in universities, schools, or non-formal education).

The experience of the Earth Charter Japan Asia Pacific Committee was presented by Wakako Hironaka and she launched a new booklet put together in Japan called Earth Charter Manga. In addition, insights into the best ways to infuse sustainability values in diverse education environments were discussed. Kartikeya Sarabhai mentioned the importance of sensitivity to the local context, to allow adaptation and interpretation of a principle in a given context. Oscar Motomura shared one lesson that he has learned in his 30 years of experience with training of public and private executives: the importance of facilitating deep dialogue between people from different sectors. The challenge is that this requires time.

On Monday, 10 November in the afternoon, Mirian Vilela co-organized a workshop called “Ethics-Based Educational Innovation: Implications for Teaching and Learning” with Prof. Arjen Wals of the Wageningen University, The Netherlands. The workshop was well attended (around 150 participants), and the presentations and topic generated good interaction with participants.

This workshop explicitly focused on innovative teaching and learning, particularly the capacity building of educators and trainers, using the Earth Charter for illustrative purposes. Two concrete activities, designed to enhance innovative teaching and learning, were presented. First, Waverly Neuberger presented the case of how the Methodist University of Sao Paulo is reorienting itself towards ESD and using the Earth Charter.  She offered many interesting insights and practical suggestions that those working in universities (or even in other type of organizations) can do to make change happen. One idea was to first sensitize and work with colleagues in reconnecting with themselves and nature, as well as having a sense of space and place to be able to see the importance of change with new eyes.

Second, Bob Jickling and Arjen Wals presented an analytical heuristic to assist educators in the evaluation of their own understandings of innovative teaching and learning. In this case the Earth Charter was used to contextualize the analytical tool. There was a rich and vibrant conversation on the role of ethics in formal education in general and the role of ethics in creating meaningful engagement—and action—around ESD. They mentioned that “interest on ethics is on the rise” because for more than 30 years we have known about the dangers of the way we are consuming and producing, but, we are not acting on it. He mentioned that we should avoid making people feel guilty, but make them feel that they can do something positive for other living beings, other humans, and for Planet Earth.

On Tuesday, 11 November in the afternoon, Wakako Hironaka and the Earth Charter Japan Committee organized an event called “ESD and the Earth Charter” mostly for a Japanese audience. Ms. Hironaka opened the event by putting the Earth Charter in a historical context, they launched the Earth Charter Manga booklet they put together, and Mirian Vilela made a presentation about the Earth Charter and some stories of how it’s being used. Presentations were also made by Prof. Tatsuro Kunugi, Prof. Tsuneo Takeuchi, both members of the Earth Charter, Asia-Pacific and Japan Committee, Edo Heinrich-Sanchez, ECI Affiliate from Okinawa, and Dr. Shin-Cheng, Deputy Minister for Environmental Protection of Taiwan. The event attracted about 200 participants.

The Earth Charter Education Center was selected as one of the 25 projects identified as best practices on ESD. In this sense, ECI was able to share materials and information on educational experiences at a booth in the Conference lobby, with Conference participants and the general public. This poster was created for the occasion of this Conference and was shown in the booth. It highlights key messages of several educational experiences with the Earth Charter in Latin America.  (The reason to include only Latin American experiences is because the EC booth was in this region’s area).

Much of the future work of the Earth Charter Center on Education for Sustainable Development will contribute to the implementation of the GAP objectives which are:
1) “to reorient education and learning so that everyone has the opportunity to acquire the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes that empower them to contribute to sustainable development”.
2) “to strengthen education and learning in all agendas, programmes and activities that promote sustainable development”.

Another contribution that ECI offered to the end of the Decade was a consultation about Latin American’s youth perspective on the Decade of ESD. This consultation was done in collaboration with:  Futuro Latinoamericano Foundation in Ecuador, National University of Costa Rica, University of Guanajuato in Mexico, UNEP Regional Office in Panama and UNESCO Regional Office in Chile.  Around 400 youth participated in this consultation, through online and face to face workshops.

You can find more information about the UNESCO Conference here.

And here a photo album of the Conference and ECI activities.

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