From May 24 to June 1, 2018, the Rome & Assisi Spirituality & Sustainability Conference will be held in Italy. The Co-Conveners are the Center for Ethics at Saint Thomas University in Florida and FORUM 21 in New York.
This Conference will bring together visionary people from a range of ecological-spiritual perspectives, centers, and movements. Participants will dialogue about transformative global change based on spirituality and sustainability and will identify key recommendations for creating a spiritual and sustainable global future.
The Conference’s goals are: to explore breakdown of civilization in the Anthropocene and breakthrough from the Cenozoic Era to the Ecozoic Era, explore practical tools, both spiritual and organizational, for personal, social, and ecological transformation, identify and support young leaders seeking transformative global change based on spirituality and sustainability, and seek common ground for ecological sustainability across the wisdom traditions of world religions and indigenous spirituality
The conference will also focus on the Earth Charter as a key contribution to global ethics, the United Nations work on sustainable development and particularly its “Agenda 2030,”; as well as from the wisdom traditions of world religions and indigenous spiritualities.
On 23 November 2017, the Earth Charter Center for Education for Sustainable Development hosted Bjørn Heyerdahl’s presentation on Integral Climate Parks. Bjørn Heyerdahl is an active explorer, environmentalist, biospheric designer and consultant on humanitarian, environmental and development issues. He is currently the CEO of Integral Climate Change Solutions (ICCS) and founder of Midgard and uses the Earth Charter as an ethical guideline for his activities.
With Integral Climate Change Solutions, Bjørn has implemented these holistic living models called Climate Parks in various environments around the world such as South Africa, Italy, UAE, Myanmar, and more. ICCS has developed the Climate Park concept as one solution to address growing environmental and social challenges through integral design and restoration projects. These Climate Parks are examples of holistic designs created to meet the needs of local communities, support nearby cities, provide business opportunities and protect and enhance the natural environment. Within these climate parks, constructive systems are used to mimic our natural systems such as the forest floor, the riverine system, the mangroves, etc. in order to create systems that will clean our air and our water and provide a zero waste and healthy environment. These designs can be implemented anywhere in the world, completely aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the ethics and principles embodied in the Earth Charter.
Bjørn uses the Earth Charter as a checklist and an ethical guideline manifesting and putting into action the intentions and the principles of the Earth Charter. He uses the Earth Charter to make sure the designs are fully integral, to include all the questions people ask, to make sure all sentient life is taken into consideration, for fair participation, and economic stability.
Bjørn believes that what we lack in our world are whole systems designs educating people on how we can live together physically exemplifying our commitment towards a sustainable future, “How do we care for our needs without eating away at our foundations?” Bjørn states that, without these living models as examples of how we can live in harmony with the environment and with others, we won’t learn the importance of these intelligent integral design systems. He spoke on the theory behind integral design based on various perspectives for an integral view and the importance of considering the sustainability of the project.
Image of Colla Michieri Project from Bjorn Heyerdahl
The following are some examples of these climate parks around the world in different biomes:
Along the coast of Myanmar, 60% of the coast has been recovered with 2.5 million mangroves planted building up fish populations, sequestrating carbon, creating community engagement within the community which converts the area into an informal food security progamme.
Along the Ligurian coast of Italy, Thor Heyerdahl, Bjorn’s grandfather, initiated a sustainable development model, brought further toward a sustainable model by a collaboration between Bjørn and his father, one of his first climate parks within a family owned property in Colla Michieri as an example of a European model.
Images of Benguerra Island from Bjorn Heyerdahl
Benguerra Island, Mozambique has been transformed into a sustainable eco-tourism development where the community members are the stakeholders and major contributors.
In the middle of the Desert in the UAE where the temperatures on the earth surface reach 60 degrees Celsius, a climate park is being built to create a forest floor using only waste as an example of working against deforestation.
The presentation concluded with the affiliation agreement signed between Integral Climate Change Solutions and Earth Charter International to strengthen our relationship and to continue to collaborate together.
“We live on Earth, if you want to ground yourself you need soil under your nails, in-between your toes, swim in the river, walk in the forest, absorb it, and do something…contribute now, contribute your imperfection because we have nothing else but imperfection and when we share our imperfections, the collective expression of what we will achieve as global citizens, will shock us all.”
To watch his full speech see video below:
Written by: Christine Lacayo, Youth Projects Coordinator Earth Charter International
From 27 June to 4 July, a group of about 60 participants gathered in Rome and Assisi for the Spirituality and Sustainability Conference, convened by The Center for Ethics of Saint Thomas University in Florida and The Center for Earth Ethics at the Union Theological Seminary in New York.
Earth Charter International was among the many co-sponsors of this unique event. The programme involved diverse informal moments for participants to share and connect, as well as panel presentations and discussions on:
– Encyclical Laudato Si´
– Thomas Berry Vision, Saints Francis and Claire
– Ecological Spirituality and its Indigenous Roots
– The Great Transition: Earth Charter and Ecological Civilization
– Transformative Paths: Education and Policy Advocacy
At the Earth Charter panel, Marryssa Pallis, an Honors student majoring in Political Science at Florida Gulf Coast University, opened the discussion with a wonderful presentation on the various and continuous efforts of FGCU in bringing the Earth Charter over the years to various courses, programmes and research projects, engaging and inspiring the student community with its articulated ethical vision of sustainability.
Sofia van Winden, from the Soetendorp Institute for Human Values in The Netherlands shared her thoughts on the importance of ecocentric values and spirituality in international cooperation, which has been a largely anthropocentric field focused on economic growth. She raised the question of whether modern development models can respond adequately to current concerns and asserted that adequate responses require a thorough analysis of the values that underpin global development policies. She also discussed her involvement in organizing a task force on the Earth Charter and Inter-faith spirituality.
Song Li, member of Earth Charter Associates and an ECI Advisor, shared a reflection on the current Chinese model of development; this model was successful in getting many people out of poverty, but it caused many other problems for the environment and people´s health. She suggested that China requires strong efforts to improve social and environment conditions, and for that a change of people’s minds and hearts is essential. She emphasized that the Chinese cultural tradition is very rich in regards to the relationship between people and nature, as well as the importance of building on and reviving traditional values for the common good of humanity.
Tommy Short, member of the Earth Charter International Council, shared his belief that sustainability should be considered a logical transition and that we all need to embrace a new sense of future looking at the impact of our actions in the long term. He stressed his ongoing commitment to the Earth Charter Initiative mission and the importance of engaging the private sector at all levels in this vision.
Mirian Vilela, ECI Secretariat Executive Director, who moderated the panel, offered an overview of the Earth Charter movement and highlighted the fact that many discussions that helped to polish the Earth Charter text took place in Assisi towards the end of the 90s, especially around the principle of compassion.
She stressed the importance of the notion of Earth Community that is articulated in the Earth Charter and that it is found in the thinking of St. Francis and Thomas Berry. She concluded with a reflection on Principle 2 of the Earth Charter that makes a call to care for the community of life, understanding, wisdom and largeness of heart is essential.
The Conference continued with a panel on Education where Professors Peter Blaze Corcoran and Maria Roca from FGCU shared their experience in bringing the Earth Charter vision to their university, teaching practice and research efforts.
The Planning Committee of the Conference involved Rev. Msgr. Terence E. Hogan, Rick Clugston, Elisabetta M. Ferrero, Joe Holland, and Arthur W. Kane.
You can also read the Blog from Maryssa Pallis on this at:
My first month of work ends and I’m excited to share some of my reflections!
As the Earth Charter Youth Projects Coordinator, 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.
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 Earth 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!
In Italy, the Cogeme Onlus Foundation, in collaboration with provincial Association of Italian Christian workers (ACLI) and with the valuable contribution of Acque Ovest Bresciano Due (AOB2), is organizing the second edition of the Earth Charter Festival along with 16 local communities of Franciacorta and Oglio West.
The programme includes a number of initiatives with particular focus on issues of Circular Economy, Recycling, and “Reuse”.
The Festival is taking place between September 21st and November 25th, and is organized under the patronage of the Province of Brescia, the Provincial Education Office, AOB2, Cogeme Spa, the LGH Group, the network Bresciapiù, Franciacorta Earth, and the Librarian Brescia Network in collaboration with Southern systems and west Brescia.
The Italian non-profit Association “La Terra nel Cuore” (Earth in Heart) was founded by a group of educators, journalists, corporate communicators, musicians, and artists devoted to promote holistic education based on love, respect, and freedom. Over the years, it has carried out educational and teaching projects at local level, always inspired by the Earth Charter.
On April 22, Earth Day 2015, La Terra nel Cuore organized an event with the students of the Artistic High School “Bruno Munari” of Cremona, whose title echoes the slogan of the Earth Day 2015: It’s our turn to lead!
The goal of the day was to foster in young people the awareness of the planet as a single community that shares a common destiny, and to involve them in actively driving this process of change.
The event included the movie “The Green Planet” by Coline Serreau, a beautiful French film that shows the importance of living close to nature. It provides a comedic vision of life on planet Earth from an extraterrestrial perspective. In the film, an alien revisits her Earthly origins only to discover unbearable living conditions due to pollution, industrialization, disconnection with nature, and disease, in contrast to her home world, in which individuals live hundreds of years in a collective society, honor nature, develop supernatural abilities, are family oriented, etc. The audience enjoyed the film thoroughly.
After the movie, the Earth Charter was presented and its structure and main principles were discussed.
Finally, the event concluded with the projection of video messages from well-known figures from popular culture, entertainment, and sport who wanted to support Earth Day and the Earth Charter.
On June 30th, a side event called “Importance of ethics for international environmental policy and law” took place during the 12th IUCN Academy of Environmental Law Colloquim, at Universitat Rovira I Virgili.
The workshop was organized by Klaus Bosselmann and Prue Taylor Professors at the New Zealand Centre for Environmental Law, in the University of Auckland; Donald A. Brown, Professor at the Widener University School of Law and Peter Burdon, Senior Lecturer at the Adelaide Law School.
The aim of this workshop was to explore the importance of global ethics for international policy, law and governance, particularly with respect to the Earth Charter and to global climate change.
The workshop was attended by approximately fifty participants, mostly environmental law scholars from around the world. During the event, Klaus Bosselmann gave a presentation on the history and significance of the Earth Charter for the development of international environmental law, highlighting two aspects:
the all–inclusive character of the Earth Charter (representing many sectors of emerging global civil society), hence its potential for a “world constitution” and
its recognition in a number of international agreements (mostly around the notion of ecological integrity) and in the legal literature.
The discussion centered on promotion of the Earth Charter in law courses, research/publications and actual policy formulation.
Then, Peter Burdon spoke on “ethics in action” making the point that any ethical documents will only ever have a significant impact if fully implemented and tested on a day-to-day basis. This led to a discussion about IUCN’s responsibility to “walk the talk” (following its own endorsement of the Earth Charter).
The second part of the workshop was devoted to climate change ethics and a new international project coordinated by Prue Taylor and Don Brown. Find more information about this project here.
Centro Studi per la Pace Onlus (The Center for the Study of Peace, CSPACE) is a non-profit organization founded on 3 May 2010 in Demonte, a small mountain town in the province of Cuneo, Italy. The principles of the Earth Charter are included in the foundational document of CSPACE and in 2013 the organization decided to implement an Earth Charter project in several local schools.
CSPACE identified education as a key method to foster cultural growth among future citizens and decided to carry out an inspiring project in classrooms in the region. The first steps were taken in 2013, when CSPACE approached teachers in several secondary schools with the objective of bringing the Earth Charter Principles to the attention of the students.
The teachers and students of the four schools that participated in the project were given access to materials directly through the CSPACE website, which limited the use of paper in order to comply with environmental sustainability. There were two main goals of the project. The first was to facilitate the schools’ institutional endorsement of the Earth Charter. The second was educational and entailed endorsing, acknowledging, and internalizing the principles of the Charter.
The project involved the students developing an activity, which would later be judged according to how creative they were in expressing their understanding of the Earth Charter. The award ceremony took place on 29 April, with each school linked via the web. The three winners were announced by special guest Stefania Belmondo, Olympic Nordic Skiing Champion, who lives in Demonte, and they also received encouraging words over the internet from an Earth Charter International staff member in Costa Rica.
The top three classes won a substantial cash prize. The students also received a book offered by a well-known publisher from the area, as well as an eco-friendly water bottle. The different products of the activity were collected on a CD and distributed to each class. The creations included drawings, poems, stories, a calendar, an e-book, a newscast, and videos.
This project was very well received by both students and teacher and should be considered a success. CSPACE has already decided on next year’s project, and, the theme has been received with great enthusiasm. Next year’s focus will be article 16 of the Earth Charter, which states, “Promote a culture of tolerance, nonviolence, and peace.”
This year marked the 21st edition of the Earth Charter Youth Contest. As in previous years, Green Cross Italia promoted this environmental education initiative in collaboration with the Italian Ministry of Education. The aim is to teach and inspire youth to become environment superheroes and find solutions to our Earth’s problems. This year’s theme was focused on one of the biggest problems humanity faces today: “Inizia da te: l’acqua (It starts with you: water)”.
The large participation of children from kindergartens and primary schools in the context of the International Year on Water Cooperation shows how this generation is committed to safeguarding “blue gold”. About 18,500 participants out of the total 30,000 were under 12.
“The game of life is over without water.”
“Water is life but it’s not infinite, there’s not a drop to lose in saving life.”
“All great men loved water. Save it and you’ll be great too.”
These are some of the mottos created by the children during their activities, which included drawings, nursery rhymes, games and video clips, as well as theatrical performances and town events. All their work proves that many small drops really can create a river of solidarity to support students from developing countries, who often have to walk several kilometers to acquire a few liters of water.
While a European citizen uses an average of 200-250 liters for drinking, washing and sanitation, an African inhabitant has access to only 20. For women and children it takes several hours of walking to collect water from safe and healthy sources. According to the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization, on a global scale, more than one in six people – equivalent to over 894 million people – don’t have access to clean water. By the year 2025, almost 2 billion people will live in high water risk regions.
“New generations are aware of the risks of natural resource shortages that we will face in the years to come,” says Green Cross Italia President Elio Pacilio. “This is why they commit themselves to building a sustainable future, using their creativity, their knowledge and all their enthusiasm. Thanks to the Earth Charter Youth Contest we have fostered their paths and we have launched a message that has been understood to perfection by children and youngsters. With the prize money for winning schools we will contribute to valuing and safeguarding the environment”.
A conference on Education, the Earth Charter,
and the Sustainable Development Goals
The Earth Charter is a universal expression of ethical principles to foster sustainable development.
The Earth Charter Initiative is the global network that embraces, uses and integrates the Earth Charter principles.