India Archives - Earth Charter

Walking around the Hymalayas with the Earth Charter

Hymalaya Trek 4The Alaknanda Ghaati Shilpi  (AAGAAS) Federation, Earth Charter Affiliate in India, organized a trek around the Hymalayas, as a way to promote responsible ecotourism in the area, with the aim to boost employment opportunities for unemployed youth of the region.  The trek started in 26 June and finished on 3 July 2016.

Hymalaya Trek 6During the trek they talked and shared about the Earth Charter principles.  Another objective of this trek was to generate a report about regional flora and fauna, the people living around the area and the negative effects of forest fire.

 

 

 

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Celebrating the World Environment Day in Himalaya

The Alaknanda Ghaati Shilpi Federation (AAGAAS), ECI Affiliate from the Himalayan region of India, has been celebrating World Environment Day using the Earth Charter as an inspiration for their biodiversity conservation actions. 

They continued their campaign to reduce the use of polyethylene bags in the Holy Hindu Shrines in the Himalaya. AAGAS staff developed new designs of baskets as gift packs, which can be used as souvenirs of the Himalayan State of Uttarakhand (India). These baskets are made of Holy Himalayan Bamboo called Ringaal (Arundinaria spp.). By using this bamboo, they’re supporting the local economy and efforts to conserve this plant.

Another activity to reuse waste was the creation of pots made of plastic bottles. They created 500 pots in Pipalkoti town (where AAGAS is based), with the support of many volunteers who learned not only how to make these pots, but also to use them to plant flower and fruit plants to decorate the biotourism park that this organization manages. 

Lastly, they organized a field trip with students from the Indian School of Business to study how climate change is impacting the high altitude alpine meadow in the Higher Himalaya, and how to use this information for environmental education.

It hasn’t been easy for AAGAAS to carry out these actions for World Environment Day, since natural disasters have hit the region where they operate, and therefore their funding and priorities have been affected. In the summer of 2013, unexpected rains affected the top layer of several Himalayan glaciers, which provoked destructive floods in Kedarnath Valley in Uttarakhand State.

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Congratulations to Montfort Social Institute

We’d like to congratulate the Montfort Social Institute (MSI), Earth Charter Affiliate since 2008, for launching their Center for Human Rights and Sustainable Development in Andhra Pradesh, India, on February 2nd, 2014.

MSI has been engaged in integral human development for social transformation in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India, by undertaking developmental activities aimed at reconstruction of village societies for the advancement of individuals, families and communities; eradication of the high prevalence of child labour; and ensure basic education and health care for all through a rights based approach.  Formation of Neighbourhood Parliament, Young People’s Initiatives (YPI) and Children’s Parliament helped harness the human potential for collective action and to create a democratic ethos in villages. Sustainable agricultural methods, cooperative farming by women and vocational education were introduced.

The Earth Charter has been an education instrument for empowering women, low paid workers, the youth and other vulnerable groups in the villages MSI work.

Congratulations MSI!

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Earth Day celebration in Assam, India

In a magnificent three-day event, Earth Day 2013 was celebrated in Bajali HS School in Barpeta district of Assam, India. To commemorate the day and spread the message of this year’s theme – Face of climate change – diverse activities were carried out among large groups of students. Students from different schools of the district participated. A cycle rally also passed through the locality to create a mass awareness about the importance of Earth Day.

Centre for Environment Education’s (CEE) Northeast cell did a day-long interactive session with students from five schools on the second day of celebration. The CEE team featured the perspective of Earth Charter principles through its innovative “Earth Charter Think Café”. Through this initiative, the CEE team guided students to take action to sustainably conserve mother Earth. During the session, students realized their role in making the earth a livable place, regardless for which life forms. They were involved in group work facilitated by members of CARBON, a local organization.

Students were divided into nine groups and given two broad themes: the role of students in conservation of the Earth; and, how can students show love and compassion to all living beings through their actions. Student groups brainstormed on the themes and came up with convincing solutions to the issues. A representative from each group presented their findings to the audience. In their presentations, students primarily stressed the importance of plants as agents that can sustain earth’s beauty and bounty for the future. That’s why it should be a duty of every citizen of the earth to protect trees.

Moreover, students mentioned the urgent need of some alternatives to polythene to sustain earth’s fertility for future crop production. Students urged less plastic use in every sphere of life. Many groups mentioned the common need to show respect to one’s own culture and ensure the spread of sustainable uses of resources. Many students stressed the importance of stopping competition for using resources. Finally, they asked people to be responsible about their lifestyles and take action towards promoting the well being of the Earth.

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EC Youth Group of the Month: AAGAAS from India

AAGAAS is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that is committed to a “Green, Clean and Prosperous Himalaya”. They are working on the creation of employment based on local resources and the promotion of sustainable livelihoods in higher Himalayas, focusing especially on remote villages close to the mountain ecosystem (see Brochure).

The organization was honored with a Recognition Award by the World Bank in Washington D.C. in 2005 and congratulated by the Animal Welfare board of India in December 2011 for its animal welfare activities.

AAGAAS has conducted numerous projects since its creation including:

– Plantation and conservation projects of various plants of the region. They developed seven community-managed nurseries, with a capacity of raising 1.5 million young trees per year with the support of villagers and local authorities. They also established a training demonstration center for the popularization of organic farming, the conservation of local biodiversity, and different composting techniques.

– Promotion of Eco-tourism:  The Eco-tourism Park established by the organization provides the opportunity to school children, researchers, and policy planners to gain a basic understanding of mountain ecosystem development through trekking, rock climbing, and other mountain tourism-based activities.

– Non-biodegradable waste management – The group organized talks, rallies, and outreach programs to the local community and school children about the management of non-biodegradable waste. They also worked to protest against soil, air, and water pollution, and distributed 50 pairs of trash cans to local hotel owners, schools, banks, the police department, and village councils.

Some of their on-going projects are related to the bamboo livelihood garden programs for rural poor villages, the regeneration of hill bamboo, and eco-tourism and livelihood promotion supported notably by UNDP and the Indian Ministry of Environment and Forests.

Earth Charter International would like to congratulate AAGAAS and its members for all of their efforts in the Himalayan region! We deeply encourage our Earth Charter Youth Groups around the world to keep up the great work and let us know more about your activities and projects (you can send your updates to [email protected]) ! Don’t forget to also update your wikispace pages so that others can learn and continue to be inspired by YOU to take actions towards building a more just, sustainable and peaceful world!

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The Montfort Social Institute and the Earth Charter

Montfort Social Institute (MSI) was started in 2000 with the vision to “create a reliable and acceptable mode of ‘social regeneration’ by initiating a people’s movement for basic necessities and empowering the masses for self-awakening, resulting in the integrated development of the adopted areas and society at large” (Annual Report, 2001-02). The organization was engaged in integral human development for social transformation in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India, by undertaking developmental activities aimed at reconstruction of village societies for the advancement of individuals, families and communities; eradication of the high prevalence of child labour; and ensure basic education and health care for all through a rights based approach.  Formation of Neighbourhood Parliament, Young People’s Initiatives (YPI) and Children’s Parliament helped harness the human potential for collective action and to create a democratic ethos in villages. Sustainable agricultural methods, cooperative farming by women and vocational education were introduced.

The urban counterpart of the rural work was taken up from Hyderabad, where programs were initiated to protect the rights of those who migrated to the city for work, and the urban poor in general. The organization (then called Sanghamitra) worked along with other city-based organizations like Campaign for Housing and Tenurial Rights (CHATRI), A.P. Domestic Workers Movement (APDWM) and Human Rights Forum (HRF). From 2011, the name of the Organization was changed to Montfort Social Institute (Centre for Human Rights, Sustainable Development and Good Governance Education) in order to reflect its global character and focus issues.

Our Mission

We are inheritors of a legacy 
Of commitment to the promotion of a world where,
All enjoy human rights;
All life forms are valued, respected and sustained;
And the values of good governance are adhered.
The Institute pursues this commitment through training, research, and grass-root interventions on behalf of the marginalized.

Our Objectives

  • Training people, especially the young in the knowledge, skills and attitudes enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Earth Charter and the Social Teachings
  • Identification of emerging social issues and critical contribution to alternatives
  • Documentation and publication
  • Facilitation of People’s Movements for the protection of the rights of the urban poor, domestic workers, women, and other marginalized people
  • Creating a Platform for Young people for international understanding and peace through exchange of ideas, experiences and visits
  • Documentation and creation of data base on Montfortian Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) commitments
  • Support and resource creation for Gabrielite Secretariat for Justice and Peace (GSJP)

Earth Charter and MSI
Montfort Social Institute is an affiliate of the Earth Charter since 2008. The Institute has particularly been involved in promoting Pillar III (Social and Economic Justice) and Pillar IV (Democracy, Nonviolence and Peace) of the Earth Charter through different programs.
Programs

Montfort Social Institute works at different levels from grass root mobilization and activism for protection of rights of the poor and vulnerable groups, to advocacy and networking at the national and international level. Some of the programs MSI is currently involved in are:

Grass root activism

  • Sensitization, awareness building and organisation of domestic workers in eleven towns and cities in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha (Nalgonda, Suryapet, Wanaparthy, Mahboobnagar, Pattancheru, Sanga Reddy, Uppal, Ramanthapur, Vizianagaram, Rajam and Bhubaneshwar).  We work under the banner of MSI- Domestic Workers Forum India (MSI-DWFI)
  • Housing Rights Campaign of the urban poor – campaign against forced displacement and evictions in four cities in Andhra Pradesh (Hyderabad, Vishakhapatnam, Warangal, and Kurnool). We work under the banner of MSI – Housing Rigths Network (MSI-HRN). 
  • Awareness building and organisation of people in slum communities in Hyderabad with water and sanitation as focus areas. The Program is called MSI – Joint Action for Water

Research, Advocacy and Policy Formulation

  • Study on the impact of Rajeev Avaas Yojana (Government of India Scheme for slum free cities) on the life and livelihood of the urban poor in 100 slums in four cities (Hyderabad, Vishakhapatnam, Warangal and Kurnool) and campaign to protect their rights. Grass root organisation of the urban poor, promotion and training of leaders to enable them to participate in policies and programs that affect them is an important component of the work of t he MSI.
  • As a member of the Task Force of the Ministry of Labour, Government of India on Domestic Workers, MSI has been helping in the formulation of policies and legislations for the protection of domestic workers
  • MSI has been engaged in campaigns for the adoption of ILO Convention on Domestic Workers, and its ratification by Governments
  • Thanks to the intervention of the MSI, the Earth Charter  has been included in the Education Policy of the Brothers of St. Gabriel, a faith based organisation engaged in school, vocational, special and university education through hundreds of institutions and programs in 34 countries all continents of the world.

Training and Publications

  • During the last one year, MSI organised 82 training programs for heads of institutions, teachers, human rights defenders and community leaders on human rights, sustainable development and good governance. The principles and values of the Earth Charter formed an integral part of all these training programs.
  • Development of resource material on human rights (HRE) and sustainable development education (SDE). MSI recently brought out a 38 minutes long documentary film titled, Human Rights – Passport to Dignity aimed at the education and training of school and college students on issues of  human rights.
  • MSI has produced resource materials on issues such as housing rights, rights of domestic workers, and other areas, for training at grass root level as well as others.
  • Thousands of copies of the Earth Charter have been printed and distributed to educationists, students and community leaders during the last three years.

Networking

  • MSI is an Affiliate of the Earth Charter International
  • MSI offers opportunities for young people from India and abroad for internship, training and exposure to social issues. The Institute has received students and young people from Norway, Germany, France, Belgium and other countries, besides India for prolonged periods of exposure and immersion to the Indian reality.
  • Facilitation of institution to institution (schools and colleges) twinning for building intercultural understanding and international relations. 24 students and five teachers from San Gabriel, St. Laurent, France, spent ten days in Hyderabad recently as part of such exchange program.

Human Rights Education Program

On 11 December 2012, the Centre for Human Rights, Good Governance and Sustainable Development Education of MSI launched a Human Rights Education Program as part of its celebration of  the Human Rights Fortnight.

The Programme was launched by Justice P. Rama Krishnam Raju, Former Judge of A.P High Court and former member of A.P Human Rights Commission, at a specially organised program for government schools at the Little Flower College Auditorium in Hyderabad.

Bro. Varghese Theckanath s.g., Director, MSI, welcoming the gathering, stressed on the duty of everyone to not only protect their own rights, but also to take responsibility for the protection of the rights of others. He said, the work of the Montfort Social Institute is assuming a new dimension with the launch of the Human Rights Education Program for high schools, colleges and civil society organisations.

Varghese Theckanath s.g.
Director
Montfort Social Institute (MSI)
Hyderabad, India

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Polythene free city campaign

The Centre for Environment Education (CEE India), based in Ahmedabad, India, organized a campaign against polythene with the theme “SANKALPA- for a polythene free city”, in collaboration with the Regional Science Centre, Kalpadroom Foundation, and others.  The event took place on January 1st, 2013 at the Regional Science Centre Khanapara.

This campaign was organized by CEE’s Paryavaran Mitra programme, and it follows Earth Charter principle 7a:  “Reduce, reuse and recycle the materials used in production and consumption systems, and ensure that residual waste can be assimilated by ecological systems”.

An exhibition called ‘Avtart’ was part of this campaign.  It showcased useful items made from waste materials. School students also sang in chorus about the harmful effects of polythene and enacted plays to drive home the message. A survey of 200 visitors was also done to assess the polythene usage.

Visit Paryavaran Mitra programme’s Web site to learn more about their sustainability actions in schools in India.

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Reports from the CBD COP 11 and events in India

From October 8th to 14th, I was in India to attend a number of workshops and meetings organized by the Center for Environment Education (CEE), an Earth Charter International (ECI) affiliate. It is always inspiring to visit India and to learn from a diversity of efforts that are going on there.

In Ahmedabad

The first two days I was in Ahmedabad visiting the CEE headquarters, meeting with their staff and offering a workshop on the Earth Charter and Education for school teachers. The Times of India wrote an article about this workshops (find it here).  We explored ways that the Earth Charter can be infused as part of current efforts.

In Hyderabad during the CBD COP-11

Then we traveled to Hyderabad to participate in the International Conference on Biodiversity Conservation and Education for Sustainable Development, from October 13th to 14th October, organized by CEE. The purpose of this meeting was to stress that the Conference of Parties (COP) process should really look at the importance of education in the process of implementing the CBD and in linking the UN efforts on ESD with Education for biodiversity. This event was attended by about 280 participants.

The outcome recommendations of this Conference, (find them here), were shared and discussed with members of COP 11 at a side event on October 17th, with the participation of the Indian and French Minister of Environment as well as the head of the CBD Secretariat. Point 17 of this outcome document emphasize the Earth Charter as an important ethical framework to use in education, it states:

Re-affirming the overall goal of the UN DESD, which is to integrate the values inherent in sustainable development into all aspects of learning to   encourage changes in behavior towards a more sustainable and just society for all. In this context, we recognize and strongly encourage the promotion and adoption of the Earth Charter as an important ethical framework for sustainable development within the new CBD educational strategy.”

During this conference I had the opportunity to talk about the Earth Charter while chairing a plenary session on ESD and Values, which was attended by Mr. R. Rajamani, former Secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, Bernard Combes, UNESCO, Esther Kelechi Agbarakwe, youth leader from Kenya, India’s Leading Biologist Padma Bhushan, and Dr. P.M. Bhargava, founder and former Director of Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology and Vice Chairman of National Knowledge Commission. This was a very enriching panel that stressed the need of bringing ethical values into education experiences.

Judicial Colloquium on Biodiversity

Another important activity that I was able to attend was the Judicial Colloquium on Biodiversity, organized by the IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law (WCEL), the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), the Secretariat of the CBD, and other partners.   In this activity, Kartikeya Sarabhai, CEE Director, and I had the opportunity to share the Earth Charter with participants, some Judges from Asian countries and academics from WCEL.  This event took place on October 13th.

Experiences with Montfort Social Institute Center on HR and SD Education

On October 11th, I dedicated the day to learn about the projects of our ECI Affiliate in Hyderabad, the Montfort Social Institute (MSI) and their Center for Education on Human Rights and Sustainable Development, which is led by Varghese Theckanath.

It was inspiring to see what they are doing especially because they are working on ESD from a human rights entry point. I think this is quite a unique project given that the majority of ESD efforts start from an environmental angle. The Montfort Social Institute has a number of schools in India and also works with this Center that is focused on empowering and supporting underprivileged people in India. For instance, they have a project that offers leadership and empowerment workshops for domestic workers in Hyderabad. To complement this, they are also helping the process of drafting stronger national laws to strengthen the rights of domestic workers.

This Center for Human Rights and Sustainable Development Education is also undertaking projects to help communities on their right of housing and also on the basic right for potable water. I saw part of their actions on this topic at the Moosa Nagar Slum Community.

MSI organized two events where I shared the Earth Charter, one of them with students of St. Francis College, and the other with Little Flower College. More than 100 students participated in each event with a number of professors and the university head.

Mirian Vilela
Earth Charter International Secretariat

From 8 to 14 October, I was in India to attend a number of workshops and meetings organized by the Center for Environment Education (CEE), which is affiliated to the Earth Charter International (ECI), and also visited the Montfort Social Institute, ECI Affiliate, and learned what they are doing in Hyderabad.

In Ahmedabad and COP 11

The first two days I was in Ahmedabad visiting the CEE headquarters, meeting with their staff and offering a workshop on the Earth Charter and Education for school teachers.  An important local newspaper wrote an article about one of this workshops (find it here).

Then we travelled to Hyderabad to participate in the International Conference on Biodiversity Conservation and Education for Sustainable Development, from 13 to 14 October, organized by CEE. The purpose of this effort was to stress that this COP process should really look at the importance of education in the process of implementing CBD and in linking the UN efforts on ESD with Education for biodiversity. This event was attended by about 280 participants.

The outcome document of this Conference, was shared and discussed with members of COP 11 at a side event on 17th October, 2012, with the participation of the Indian and French Minister of Environment as well as the head of CBD Secretariat. Some of the recommendations emphasize the Earth Charter as an important ethical framework to use in education. Point 17 of this outcome document states:

Re-affirming the overall goal of the UN DESD, which is to integrate the values inherent in sustainable development into all aspects of learning to encourage changes in behavior towards a more sustainable and just society for all. In this context, we recognize and strongly encourage the promotion and adoption of the Earth Charter as an important ethical framework for sustainable development within the new CBD educational strategy.”

During this conference I had the opportunity to share about the Earth Charter while chairing a plenary session on ESD and Values which had the participation of Mr. R. Rajamani, former Secretary of Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, Bernard Combes, UNESCO, Esther Kelechi Agbarakwe youth leader from Kenya and India’s Leading Biologist Padma Bhushan Dr. P.M. Bhargava, founder and former Director of Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology and Vice Chairman of National Knowledge Commission. This was a very enriching panel that stressed the need of bringing ethical values into education experiences.

Judicial Colloquim on Biodiversity

Another important activity where I was able to participate was the Judicial Colloquim on Biodiversity, organized by the Secretariat of the CBD, the IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law (WCEL), UNEP and other partners.   In this activity, Kartikeya Sarabhai, CEE Director and ECI Council and I had the opportunity to bring the Earth Charter to the table with Judges of mostly Asian countries and academics from WCEL.  This event took place on 13 October.

Experiences with Montfort Social Institute

On 11 October, I took the whole day to see the projects of our ECI Affiliate in Hyderabad, the Montfort Social Institute and their Center for Education on Human Rights and Sustainable Development, which is led by Varghese Theckanath, a Upeace alumni.

I felt inspired to see their work especially because they are working on ESD but from a human rights entry point. I actually think this is quite a unique project given that the majority of ESD efforts start from an environmental angle.  The Montfort Social Institute has a number of schools in India and also works with this Center that is focused on empowering and supporting underprivileged people in India. For instance, they have a project that is to offer leadership and empowerment workshops for domestic workers in Hyderabad. To complement this, they are also helping the process of drafting stronger national laws to strengthen the rights of domestic workers.

This Center for Human Rights and Sustainable Development Education is also undertaking projects to help communities on their right of housing and also on the basic right for potable water. I saw part of their actions on this topic at the Moosa Nagar Slum Community.

The MSI organized two events where I talked about the Earth Charter, one of them was with students of St. Francis College and the other one Little Flower College, more than 100 students participated in each event.


Mirian Vilela
Director
Earth Charter International Secretariat

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International Conference on Biodiversity Conservation and Education for Sustainable Development

The International Conference on Biodiversity Conservation and Education for Sustainable Development: Learning to Conserve Biodiversity in a Rapidly Changing World” is being organized by the Earth Charter Affiliate Centre for Environment Education (CEE) on 13 – 14 October, 2012, in Hyderabad, India.

The Conference is the fourth in the Series of International Conferences organised by India as part of its contribution to the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (UNDESD 2005-2014).  It will be held in partnership with UNESCO, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), Government of India.

The DESD and more recently the announcement of the Decade of Biodiversity (2011 2020) provides an opportunity to include Biodiversity in Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). India is hosting the eleventh meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP 11) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Hyderabad from 1 – 19 October 2012. Governments from around the world and international experts on biodiversity are expected to participate in the deliberations. The ESD conference proposed to be held alongside the COP 11 provides an opportunity to use this expertise in strengthening ESD.

The recommendations of the Conference will be shared and discussed with members of COP 11 in a side event followed by the conference.

Conference Objectives

  • Reflect upon scope, issues and challenges of education for biodiversity conservation in the context of ESD
  • Share experiences and best practices in biodiversity conservation education
  • Provide inputs to point 3.2 of the agenda of COP 11 “Review of progress in providing capacity building support to Parties, promoting communication, education and public awareness and strengthening of the clearing house mechanism and technology transfer and cooperation”
  • Provide inputs and serve as a Prep Com for the UNDESD End of Decade Conference, Japan 2014 with a focus on mainstreaming of biodiversity conservation into ESD

Who can attend?
Educators, teachers, students, policy makers, practitioners, UN agencies, non governmental organizations and community groups, academics and religious thinkers that work in the field of Biodiversity and in Education for Sustainable Development can attend this Conference.

Find more information about the programme and registration here

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Sustainable Development Summit happening in New Delhi

The Energy and Resource Institute (TERI) is organizing the 12th Annual Delhi Sustainable Development Summit (DSDS) from 2-4 February in 2012 in India. The summit will focus on the theme: Protecting the Global Commons: 20 years post Rio.

This Summit is part of the World Sustainable Development Forum (WSDF), established by TERI in 2005.  The organizers recognize the Earth Charter on their website as an important reference regarding ethics for sustainability. 

The forthcoming summit in 2012 will be packed with great sessions, dynamic speakers from across the globe. World leaders, opinion-makers and high-level global participants will come together to discuss issues around global commons and actions taken towards protecting them since Earth Summit in 1992, the present condition and the new directions that could be set and the future agenda for action.

Find in this link all pertinent information about this Summit:
http://dsds.teriin.org/2012

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