Education Archives - Earth Charter

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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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.

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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Earth Charter presentation in California by Professor Sam Crowell

Photo workshop Sam

 

On February 20, Sam Crowell presented an introduction to the Earth Charter to almost 150 people from a local community action group in Idyllwild, California. Idyllwild is a small mountain village in southern California that is surrounded by national and state forests, with snow-capped peaks rising to almost 11,000 feet in elevation. It is a community noted for its commitment to the arts and to the environment.

 

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The group, “Indivisible Idyllwild,” was formed to engage the Idyllwild community in an on-going dialogue around issues and policies affecting the poor and disenfranchised, sustainability, and social equality of women, LGBT, and immigrants – all impacted by the rhetoric and mandates of the Trump administration. The group’s mission is to work toward “sustainable economic, environmental, and social justice for all,” focusing first on the community and region, but also joining with others to advance these causes nationally.

Sam pointed out that the Earth Charter offers a compatible vision that emphasizes respect for diversity, care for the environment and all communities of life, a call to social and economic justice, and the commitment to peace and non-violence.  Sam suggested that the Earth Charter principles and values can offer two significant things for the group: 1) inspiration and guidance for engaged action; and 2) a planetary vision that connects what is done locally to a shared vision of peoples around the world.

Foto SamLocal efforts make a difference. When the energy of those actions is combined with a planetary vision of love, care, and compassion, then it is amplified in positive and profound ways. Finding a role for the Earth Charter in these contexts makes the Charter relevant to today’s world. “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.”

For the seventh time, Sam will be co-facilitating with Mirian Vilela a master class on Education, Ethics, and Values for Sustainability: Transformative Teaching and Learning with the Earth Charter at the Earth Charter Center in Costa Rica, on July 3 – 7, 2017.

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UNESCO ESD Leadership Training, designed by Earth Charter International, is piloted around the world

During February of 2017, over one hundred young sustainability leaders gathered in Dublin, Beirut, Nairobi, and New Delhi to train in Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) Leadership using a UNESCO curriculum developed by Earth Charter International (ECI).

 

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This series of ESD Leadership trainings in various regions around the world constitutes the pilot phase of the Flagship Project for Partner Network 4 of UNESCO´s Global Action Programme (GAP) on Education for Sustainable Development.  GAP is the follow up to the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014) which aims to generate and scale-up concrete actions in ESD. Within GAP, there are five Priority Action Areas identified. ECI holds a co-chair position in Partner Network 4, a network of organizations recognized for their work on mobilizing and engaging youth in ESD.

As the first phase of the Flagship Project for GAP Partner Network 4, UNESCO contracted ECI to develop the training script for a young leaders training on ¨ESD Leadership¨ in collaboration with the other key network partners. The second phase, carried out in February 2017, was the implementation of regional pilot workshops, where key partners experimented with the training script and trained the first round of ESD Leaders.

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The Coordinator of Youth Projects at ECI, Sarah Dobson, joined by other GAP key partners from Partner Network 4, attended the pilot workshop in Dublin, Ireland hosted by key partner ECO UNESCO. Meanwhile, the ESD Leadership training was also conducted in Nairobi, New Delhi, and Beirut with young sustainability leaders from each region and joined by other GAP key partners. The trainings used interactive exercises and multimedia methods to engage participants on themes of ESD, systems thinking, leadership, visioning, and facilitation. Participants will use elements from this training to design and conduct ESD related workshops in their own communities by the end of March 2017.

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For the next phase of the Flagship, ECI will collect feedback and evaluations from participants and facilitators of the pilot workshops to improve and finalize the training script. UNESCO will then translate and release a final version for public use after March 2017.

The ESD Leadership Training curriculum serves as a guide for organizations who work with or seek to work with young people to incorporate aspects of ESD Leadership into their present activities and trainings. It is meant to serve as a flexible resource which can be adapted to fit the local context and serve local needs.

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Desired outcomes for the Flagship project include the empowerment of youth leaders to inspire and mobilize others to take action towards building more sustainable, just, and resilient communities and to build a youth-led ESD Leaders Network for exchange and collaboration.

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Doctoral thesis on traditional stories as educational tools based on the Earth Charter

Tesis portadaIn 2016, Dr. Grian A. Cutanda, from the University of Granada, Spain, presented his doctoral thesis on the use of traditional stories as educational tools to convey a complex-systems worldview on the basis of systems thinking and the values and principles of the Earth Charter.

Dr. Cutanda analyzed and collected 336 myths, legends, fables and folktales from all around the world to illustrate the different principles of the Charter. His thesis advisors, Dr. Alfonso Fernández Herrería and Dr. Francisco Miguel Martínez Rodríguez, from the Faculty of Education of the University of Granada, have been involved for many years in the Earth Charter and in education research related to the role of emotions in education processes. Dr. Jane Brown, from Moray House School of Education of the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, was the methodology director of the research work.

The author believes that the Education Sciences are called to play a decisive role in the necessary change of mentality that lead us to overcome the state of true planetary emergency in which systems scientists forecasts point to a breakdown, as the different “educations for change” have proven ineffective in achieving this social transformation.

Tesis 2The thesis attempts to offer two different contributions: a theoretical proposal, which aims to overcome the shortcomings of educations for change; and a practical proposal, based on the previous one, which seeks to provide a vast repository of educational resources aimed at social change in worldview.

The theoretical proposal, set up on the works of Stephen Sterling, Gregory Bateson and Donella H. Meadows, among others, includes the development of a worldview education as a confluence node for the different educations for change, as well as the introduction of transpersonal education in teacher training.

The practical proposal is based on Ecopedagogy, Ethics of Care, Deep Ecology and the Earth Charter, and offers some initial tools for education in a complex-systems, integrative, holistic and ecological worldview.

Dr. Cutanda´s research was awarded the ¨sobresaliente cum laude¨ distinction and it was included among the candidates to the special prize of doctorate at the University of Granada, which means that if it results winner of the prize, the doctoral thesis will be published by the university. This excellent piece of work is available in Spanish, with an English summary.

Click here to read the English summary of the thesis.

 

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COP22 and the ¨Inner Dimensions of Climate Change¨ retreat in Marrakesh

From 5 to 13 November, 2016, the Earth Charter International Youth Projects´ Coordinator Sarah Dobson visited the beautiful city of Marrakech, Morocco with a two-part mission: to connect with young leaders and civil society organizations from around the world at COP22, and to participate in the ¨Inner Dimensions of Climate Change¨ programme for young ecologists.

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COP22, the annual United Nations Climate Change Conference, convened government officials from around the world to create international policies and strategies to combat climate change along with thousands from civil society who joined to influence and report on the negotiations and build networks and partnerships. Sarah met with young leaders from Morocco and every region of the world who are working, studying, innovating, and living with the urgent and earnest intention to transform our lifestyles and current systems to align with the protection and preservation of our planet. She met with people working in different youth networks with specializations in education, social entrepreneurship, science and research, and activism and explored ways that the Earth Charter can serve them whether as an ethical guide, a shared vision, or through our online trainings in ¨ Leadership, Sustainability, and Ethics. ¨

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After a few days at the Conference, Sarah joined the first ¨The Inner Dimensions of Climate Change¨ retreat, unique programme series organized to foster dialogue and discovery. Earth Charter International served as a co-partner to the event which was organized by the Global Peace Initiative of Women (GPIW) and sponsored by the Dharma Drum Mountain Buddhist Association (DDMBA).

The 4-day programme brought together 20 young ecologists from 14 African nations: Egypt, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Nambia, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. They were joined by ecology experts and spiritual leaders of various traditions and backgrounds.

The first days were spent discussing problems and solutions from the African perspective in the areas of biodiversity, water, and agriculture before the conversation turned inward considering the attitude and paradigm which allow these problems to persist and have prevented a large scale shift toward sustainability.

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Woven throughout the discussions, the mentors shared their stories and wisdom. Ven. Bhante Duddharakita from Uganda spoke of the need to reduce not only carbon emissions, but greed emissions. Sraddhalu Ranade from India spoke of the androcentric and reductionist mindsets which have led us to the point of crisis. Tiokasin Ghosthorse from the Lakota Nation in North America spoke of how our language separates us from Mother Earth, pretending to be superior and separate to Mother Earth and inventing notions such as domination and ownership. We reflected on a paradigm shift to relationship with all life and contemplated how to retain and relearn knowledge cultivated and held by indigenous peoples.

The youth delegates and spiritual mentors brought their wisdom to the COP22, presenting ¨the Inner Dimensions of Climate Change¨ as a side event which drew great attention and curiosity as it offered a deep, honest conversation about climate and our own intimate relationship with one another and Earth. The final day together was spent in a small Berber village nestled in the Atlas Mountains where the group shared delicious Moroccan tea and food and a final dialogue circle of reflection and gratitude.

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This program was the first in a series of regional ¨Inner Dimensions of Climate Change¨ retreats which will gather young ecologists and spiritual mentors to examine the deeper causes and solutions to climate change which begin with our mindset and relationship to the Earth. All youth delegates and mentors from each regional meeting are then expected to then gather together in 2018 to continue building bridges and relationships and strengthen the movement toward a more life sustaining paradigm and way of living.

 

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Mapting: New photo-sharing app to popularize Sustainable Development Goals

Discovering the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Earth Charter Principles while spreading a positive message about the future of our planet through picture and video sharing —this is the idea behind Mapting, a new mobile app developed by Earth Charter International in collaboration with Soka Gakkai International (SGI).

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Mapting is a free tool that invites users to look for everyday actions that people take which help to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Then it´s as simple as snapping a photo or video and sharing it on a world map.

mapting-home-screenBeyond a photo and video sharing app created to map positive actions worldwide, Mapting is also a learning tool. It was designed in such a way that each step, from the home page to the photo sharing process, offers an opportunity for its users to learn more about the 17 Goals and the principles of the Earth Charter. The app combines these two complementary frameworks, the SDGs and the Earth Charter, to build connections between the targets, or where we need to go (SDGs), and the fundamental shared values that we need to get there (the Earth Charter).

Mapting was officially launched at an event called “Youth boosting the promotion and implementation of the SDGs” held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on 10 November 2016. Mapting received enthusiastic support from participants and NGOs. The app quickly had users from Mexico, Japan, Brazil, Switzerland and the US with more people joining every day.

Mapting was created based on the belief that individuals, specifically young individuals, have power to initiate change. This app is a simple, entertaining way to discover and engage around the Global Goals and the Earth Charter with the potential to popularize and expand the movement for sustainable development.

Download Mapting now for free at www.mapting.org to join people around the world who Snap & Map everyday acts that contribute to the SDGs.


Authors: Dino De Francesco, Digital Communications Specialist and Sarah Dobson, Youth Projects Coordinator at Earth Charter International

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The Inner Dimensions of Climate Change: Young Ecologists Turn Inward

From 18 to 23 January 2017, thirty young ecologists from the Americas and Caribbean working in fields related to environmental education, conservation and climate activism came to Costa Rica for a retreat on the ¨Inner Dimensions of Climate Change.¨ Earth Charter International (ECI) collaborated with The Global Peace Initiative of Women (GPIW) and the Dharma Drum Mountain Buddhist Association (DDMBA) to bring together young people with mentors from different spiritual traditions to uncover the deeper root causes of the climate crisis to inform our individual, organization, and systemic work in creating solutions.

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Participants and mentors spent their first day at the Earth Charter Center for Education for Sustainable Development where the ECI Youth Project´s Coordinator led them in an interactive workshop to experience the Earth Charter. Participants explored the Earth Charter´s four interrelated pillars: (1) Respect and Care for the Community of Life, (2) Ecological Integrity, (3) Social and Economic Justice, (4) Democracy, Nonviolence, and Peace, and then learned the incredible story of its creation which stands as the most participatory process of any document in history.

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The group then traveled to Puerta a la Vida, a unique eco-lodge in Puntarenas Costa Rica, where the group spent several days in ceremony, dialogue, and exploration. Dialogue sessions were facilitated by mentors who gave space to youth leaders to open discussions on topics related to their work. Topics included the impact of Climate Change on the Americas and Caribbean, loss of indigenous knowledge, and grassroots efforts to create change.

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Mentors Venerable Chang Ji, Jana Long, Dena Merriam, Mirabai Starr, and Hanne Marstrand Strong shared wisdom from their various traditions and experiences. Mentors Sraddhalu Ranade from India and Tiokasin Ghosthorse from the Lakota Nation in North America brought in systemic and biocentric perspectives to deconstruct colonial, oppressive, and anthropocentric paradigms and language to shift, expand, and deepen the conversations.  In one example, Tiokasin shared that he considers the famous statement ¨I think, therefore I am¨ is to be lost. He and his tribe instead live by ¨I thank, therefore I am—We thank, therefore we are.¨ He begins each day giving thanks to water, a word which in his native language of Lakota roughly translates to ¨the life energy that flows between us.¨

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The retreat closed with a ceremony of gratitude where each person chose to take with them a small, symbolic object that another had brought, bonding the participants to one another and the experience. This gathering was the second in the series of regional retreats; The first retreat was held in Marrakesh, Morocco in November of 2016 with African youth during the COP22. GPIW, DDMBA, and ECI will continue organizing spaces to build intergenerational and intercultural networks of grounded, conscious sustainability leaders with plans to host the next gatherings in Europe and the Middle East.

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Earth Charter Affiliate shares case studies on Leaders in Education for Sustainability

Kim Corrigan photoKimberly Corrigan, Vice President for Global Leadership at Global Visionaries and Earth Charter International Affiliate, wrote an article with three case studies on Leaders in Education for Sustainability, published in the Shelburne Farms Sustainable Schools Project 2016 on Educating for Sustainability.

The article includes a triple case study involving Noah Zeichner, award-winning high school social studies teacher at Chief Sealth International High School in Seattle, Jing Fong, inspiring storyteller and manager of YES! Magazine, a nonprofit and subscriber-supported independent media organization, and co-founders of The SEED Collaborative, Stacy Smedley and Ric Cochrane, two architects focused on transforming schools into exceptional environments for learning.

¨In my view, educating for sustainability, by its very nature, demands that we offer our K-12 students hands-on, inquiry-based, interdisciplinary curricula that build core academic knowledge, as well as skills in critical-, creative-, and systems thinking¨, expressed Corrigan.

The author offers a context for educating for sustainability: global issues, and suggests a tool to explore the world as a Community and to help students and teachers engage in robust discussion and take on action projects using the world as community. This tool is the Earth Charter.

Kim Corrigan article 2Corrigan stated: ¨Global sustainability education encourages educators and students to engage together in developing the skills and knowledge needed to understand 21st century challenges, envision effective and equitable remedies, and implement positive solutions that serve the common good and the planet upon which we all rely¨.

 The author describes The Charter as a powerful and provocative primary document that calls for interdependence and universal and differentiated responsibility for creating a more just, sustainable, and peaceful world, and says it is ideal for educators and students to discuss how it was created and what it proclaims, and to debate its vision and values.

Corrigan suggests that teachers and students can also use the 16 principles of the Charter (which are available in over 50 languages), to learn about other complex topics and perplexing tensions, such as independence and interdependence, individual action and structural change, mitigation and adaption, and the role and value of certain realities often missing from discussions in our particular culture of surety and rugged individualism: realities of limits, doubt, forgiveness, empathy, fragility, insecurity, and impermanence.

 

To read the three case studies mentioned by the author go to:

http://www.shelburnefarms.org/sites/default/files/efscasestudies-complete.pdf

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Successful conclusion of the 10-week youth training in “Leadership, Sustainability and Ethics”

After ten weeks of reading, reflecting, discussing, evaluating, and experimenting, 21 young people from Latin America and Spain completed the Earth Charter International training in “Leadership, Sustainability and Ethics”. This online programme was designed for motivated, talented young people to build their skills and knowledge to effectively lead the transition to more sustainable, just, and peaceful societies.

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Over the ten weeks, participants grappled with the concepts and practical implications of

  • Leadership
  • Ethics
  • Sustainability
  • The Earth Charter
  • Eco-literacy
  • Systemic thinking
  • Facilitation

At the end of the training, participants worked together in small groups to design a workshop related to these central themes, and then went offline to organize and facilitate it in their own communities. For many, this was the most rewarding part of the programme since they could directly implement what they had learned and be agents of change in their communities.

Participant Dennis Perez from Costa Rica said: “[The workshop] was rewarding and let me see that every day we learn more; moreover, an ethical framework would serve as a tool for other institutions which can use the Earth Charter as a philosophy.

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Upon successful completion of the programme, participants received a certificate of recognition from CTI. They were also invited to participate in the Earth Charter Young Leaders (ECYL) Programme, an opportunity to serve as active focal points within the Youth Network for one year. Young Leaders help organize and facilitate online seminars, workshops and courses and create and publish news and stories of the Youth Network. For example, Julián Arias Varela, alumni of the training programme and member of the ECYL, co-facilitated this training with the ECI Youth Projects Coordinator.

In reflecting on her experience in the programme, participant Paola Gonzalez shared “I’m very motivated; I loved the experience and would repeat it a thousand times. ¨

Earth Charter International aims to train at least 300 young leaders over the next three years. This training is part of ECI´s commitment to the UNESCO´s Global Programme of Action on Education for Sustainable Development, particularly in the area of empowerment and mobilization of young people. It was also established in direct recognition of Principles 12c and 14a of the Earth Charter to:

Honor and support the young people of our communities, enabling them to fulfill their essential role in creating sustainable societies” and “Provide all, especially children and youth, with educational opportunities that empower them to actively development contribute sustainable.”

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For information on the next training beginning in January 2017, please visit: http://earthcharter.org/events/leadership-sustainability-ethics.

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