Kenya Archives - Earth Charter

Faith leaders, the Earth Charter and sustainable leadership

kelly-ngetiThis article was written by Kelly Ngeti, a member of the Earth Charter Young Leaders Programme. Kelly Ngeti, from Mombasa, Kenya, is passionate about working with and for the community, particularly in the areas of the environment, peace and stability. He is a core member, volunteer, and the Regional Coordinator at Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in Africa, a pan African NGO that brings catholic youth to care for and protect the environment. Kelly is also an organizer with the Miritini Peace Initiative which was established amid the 2007-2008 post-election violence in order to promote peace and sustainable leadership. He is a former Mombasa diocesan youth chairperson, and an actor and writer with Big Dreams Productions. Kelly has diplomas in Sales and Marketing, Journalism, and Community Development and is pursuing a degree in Development Studies.

Editor: Josephine Schrott, Earth Charter Young Leader


On August 9th – 12th 2016, I was part of the team that was selected to travel to Same, Tanzania for a forum with faith leaders dubbed FLEAT, meaning Faith Leaders Environment Advocacy Training. The program is run by SAFCEI, the South African Faith Communities Environment Institute, and organized by Hope for Tanzania, an NGO that advocates for climate justice in Tanzania. Hope for Tanzania Director Rev. Elisa Murutu was one of the FLEAT participants.

faith-leaders-kenya

A series of forums has been scheduled throughout this year under the FLEAT program, with the agenda of engaging with faith leaders through advocacy and through their institutions to help promote eco-justice and sustainable development.

FLEAT is of the notion that even with the efforts made by lay people in advocating for climate justice and protection and conservation of our environment for the common good, the pace of impact is slow. Faith leaders can speed up the flow of information since many people believe instantly in what their spiritual leaders say. The objective is to advocate for faith leaders to take up a more leading role in advancing the environmental sustainability agenda forward.

I was able to present to this audience of faith leaders from different religious backgrounds and of different positions in their respective institutions. In the forum, there were a total of 70 participants with representatives from the Presbyterian Church of East Africa; pastors, ministers and the bishop of the Lutheran Church and the Pentecostal Church; priests and bishops of the Same, Tanzania diocese of the Catholic Church; representatives from the Islam religion and lay people.

The Earth Charter and Sustainable leadership were my two topics of engagement. With regards to the Earth Charter, I shared the history and its objectives then perused through the principles. It was amazing and encouraging how well the participants connected with the principles of the Earth Charter, each acknowledging their importance in protecting our environment and our earth. For further reading and endorsements, I left a link of the Earth Charter and urged participants to read it through, endorse it and then ask others in their respective institutions to do the same. I further urged them to make the Earth Charter their tool and point of reference in advocating for sustainable development, eco-justice and lobbying.

My second session focused on sustainable leadership. I specifically chose this topic as a point of reference to showcase how good leadership impacts action. I knew it would be exciting and very interesting to hear from the faith leaders their perspectives on good leadership, and what they have been practicing. Because they are leaders themselves with huge number of followers from their institutions, I had a feeling it was going to be an interactive session.

workshop-with-faith-leaders-kenya

I shared on the traditional versus modern models of leadership which I had learnt about in the “Leadership, Ethics and Sustainability” course I took with the Earth Charter. True to my instincts, the session turned out to be very interesting and provoked leaders to discuss more on the leadership of Tanzania and their own leadership ways. It was so encouraging how the modern model of leadership was picked up as a realistic resolution to leadership crises in all institutions. It ended with the majority of participants asking for the presentation so that they can disseminate it to their respective members.

My organization, the Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in Africa (www.cynesa.org), continues to host and lead advocacy meetings and will carry this initiative forward in Kenya and the larger region.

 

 

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Celebrating EC+15 with a climate change walk in Kenya

On September 25th, 2015, the Green Belt Movement, Earth Charter Affiliate in Kenya, celebrated the 15th anniversary of the Earth Charter with a Climate Change walk in Kitale town, parallel to Professor Wangari Maathai’s fourth memorial anniversary walk in Nairobi.  This event was organized in collaboration with Green Cross Sweden.

The walk aimed at mobilizing communities to raise their voice on climate change and engage local leaders to address this global issue. Individuals and organizations were also called upon to endorse the Earth Charter, which calls for a global partnership for a just, sustainable and peaceful world. More than 300 people endorsed the Earth Charter and 2000 flyers about the Earth Charter were distributed.

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Promoting Peace and Sustainability in Kenya

In Kenya, two Earth Charter Affiliates have been collaborating:  Green Cross Sweden and Green Belt Movement (Kenya).  These two organizations are promoting peace, security, and sustainability in Kenya. This cooperation began in 2005 under the direction of the late Professor Wangari Maathai.

The Earth Charter has been incorporated in two specific projects that these organizations are implementing in the Rift Valley region: Sustainable Communities Peace and Reconciliation Project (which started in 2013), and the Smart Water for Green Schools Projects (started in 2012 and still active in two schools: Kamara and Mau Summit). 

Some specific activities of these projects include the Peace Building Councils and Children’s Peace Clubs, which are run by the local schools. 

The peace project supported the production of 3,000 copies of the Children´s Earth Charter, and 500 copies of the Earth Charter Declaration brochure, as well as 100 posters, which were utilized as training materials and information dissemination tools. The Children´s Earth Charter was disseminated throughout the schools where children were encouraged to learn the principles of the declaration by heart .

The Children’s Peace Festival is an annual celebration with young participants. The first Festival was held in Molo Town in the Kuresoi District on 21 November 2012. Never before had so many youth from the different ethnic communities in the region gathered together in the same place and in the name of peace. The event, which featured the Earth Charter, began with a parade where the children marched into the town led by the marching band from Mooto Primary School.

The Children’s Peace Festival mobilized as many as 1,189 children from 39 schools, as well as teachers, education officers, and security stakeholders in Kuresoi District, and included politicians and dignitaries from the region. All gathered together at the Wangari Maathai Peace Park in Molo Town, which is in an area that was hit hard by the brutalities of post-election violence in 2007-08. The peace event, which utilized the message of the Earth Charter, aimed to encourage children of all ages to become Peace Agents in their local communities. It also provided an opportunity for the adults representing the different authorities to sign the peace banner messages sent to the Kenyan government prior to the last general election, in March 2013.

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Wangari Maathai day

During the 14th Africa Union Summit, the Heads of State in Africa agreed that March 3rd will be Wangari Maathai Day. Previously called Africa Environment Day, the African Union voted to rename this day in memory of Professor Maathai. The day’s events will focus on celebrating Wangari Maathai’s commitment to good governance, environmental responsibility and peace.

This celebration started this year, last Saturday March 3rd with events in countries across Africa. Green Belt Movement will host a tree planting event at Freedom Corner in Uhuru Park, Nairobi on March 10th to mark this event.

Wangari Maathai was an Earth Charter Commissioner, she was deeply involved with the drafting of the Earth Charter since 1997.  In her latest book, she makes several references to the Earth Charter.  This article presents more information about Wangari’s involvement with the Earth Charter.

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Earth Charter Initiative tribute to Wangari Maathai


We are sorry to hear about the passing away of Wangari Maathai. Our prayers are with her and her family.

On behalf of all those involved in the Earth Charter Initiative, I want to express our condolences to Wangari’s family and how very grateful we are for Wangari and for all she has done.

We will miss her dearly and the Earth will too.

She was a unique human being committed to “restoring the integrity of Earth’s ecological systems”. She inspired us all in her dedication to mobilize people to help reestablish the green cover of our planet.

Wangari was an Earth Charter Commissioner. She offered valuable contributions to the discussions generated by the Earth Charter drafting process. Above all, she was a great friend and human being.

The first time I saw Wangari was in January 1997 during the first Earth Charter drafting committee meeting. Her joy and humility attracted my attention. It was funny to see how, in the midst of a complicated or academic discussion she would be able to clarify issues using simple language and directness. One day, she told us in a meeting that she would describe the Earth Charter as like when someone is at a bus stop and needs to identify a bus that will take them to a given place. Well, she said, the Earth Charter is the bus that will take us to the right place.

In 2002 at one of the preparatory committees for the Johannesburg Summit she told me that she did not have a place to stay in New York, but had managed to spend the night in the YMCA. Wangari taught us her smooth, humble, and committed way of being. In September 2005, she took the time from her busy schedule to participate in the last meeting of the Earth Charter Steering Committee. At that time, we were discussing the need to constitute the new Earth Charter International Council and the future vision for the Earth Charter Initiative. She was there giving us ideas and inspiration.

When she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, it was an interesting moment for the world to see that the environment, justice, sustainability and peace issues are actually part of the same agenda.

We will miss her smile, energy and positive attitude. She had a good soul and we bid her goodbye with deep gratitude and respect.

As she wrote in the chapter on Gratitude and Respect of her book Replenishing the Earth, “gratitude is the simple acknowledgement of the bounty with which you have been blessed and a sense of responsibility for using it wisely”.

We have been blessed by you, Wangari, and we should use wisely what you have taught the world.
With this in mind and in our hearts, we should just simply go and plant a tree.

Mirian Vilela
Executive Director
Earth Charter International

On 29 June 2000, at the launch of the Earth Charter in The Hague, see picture below.
At that occasion, Wangari offered the remarks you can find by clicking here.

On 18 September 2005, at the Earth Charter Steering Committee meeting in New York.

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New book of Wangari Maathai features the Earth Charter

Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Earth Charter Commissioner from Kenya launched this year the book:  Replenishing the Earth: Spiritual Values for Healing Ourselves and the World.

In this book, she reflects on the spiritual dimensions of the environmental crisis we are suffering; she includes a section on the Earth Charter. 

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Welcome new Earth Charter Youth / Student Groups!

Earth Charter, 12.c.
“Honor and support the young people of our communities, enabling them to fulfill their essential role in creating sustainable societies.”

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I am glad to inform that 12 new Earth Charter Youth / Student Groups have been started! These groups have decided to ally with the Earth Charter Initiative to promote sustainable ways of living in their communities.

Please, join me in welcoming the following groups to the Earth Charter youth network:

Cameroon
Better World Cameroon Earth Charter Youth Group

Croatia
ECYG de leut’s environment

Ghana
ECYG For Sustainability and Peace Ghana

ECYG THE PIGOP

Kenya
Students for Global Sustainability – University of Nairobi (SfGS-UoN)

Nigeria
ECYG Youth Vision Alliance Network

Earth Charter Youth Group Get Organized for Change

ECYG Fresh & Young Brains Development

ECYG Abuja

Somalia
ECYG Somalia

Uganda
Africa Intercultural Development Support Trust [AIDEST], an – All Africa Sustainable Development Organization

Ukraine
Earth Charter Ukraine for Education for All

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As an example for other groups, I want to share with you an email that I received from Herman J.B. Kizito, a youth group coordinator of the newest Ugandan Earth Charter Youth Group. This email shows a great example on how a new Earth Charter group can start their actions:

“We have begun a series of strategic and promotional / awareness actions and outreach campaigns involving:

  • Primary and Elementary Schools Outreach programmes discussing the Earth Charter concepts, opportunities and needs to get connected. These schools range with enrollment capacities of 150 children to 2000 and more, ages 6 years to 14 years old; boys and girls. Some of these schools have expressed their interests to promote their goals worldwide under the AECON banners. Uganda has over 2000 primary schools be it Public or Private or Faith-Based, yet, already AECON has access to 300 of these in all regions of the country. Our assessments of their individuals show that most would like to start School Environmental Clubs, School gardens, Exchange visits as well as Waste Recycling Project, but they lack funds, let alone Educational materials.
  • Community Green Enterprises Programme has been started, we are planting trees, collecting and recycling garbage.
  • Networking is on; we are interacting with other Stakeholders.
  • Forwarding Earth Charter internet contacts to others; we are already passing on the Earth Charter information to many for direct contacts, asking that they do the same.”

More free / low-cost ideas can be found here.

If you are interested in joining the Earth Charter youth network, check out through this link what can you do to work for more sustainable future!

Welcome to the Earth Charter youth network,
Jaana Laitinen
Earth Charter International Youth Facilitator
youthcoordinator@earthcharter.org

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Meeting Mathare Roots – an Earth Charter Youth Group in Nairobi, Kenya


An Earth Charter youth activist, e-GLO 1 graduate, Irina Pleva from Latvia lived in Nairobi, Kenya for 6 months. During that time she visited an Earth Charter Youth Group Mathare Roots in Mathare slum and shares her experience here with us.


Thank you Irina for taking the initiative in setting up the meeting and spending a day with a fellow Earth Charter Youth Group! Special thanks for the inspiring video! This is a great example to all of us – when we get a chance to travel, why not to connect with the local Earth Charter Initiative activists?

Jaana Laitinen
Earth Charter International Youth Facilitator

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From already the first days being in a country one can experience inevitable spirit of its diversity, observed and found in everything and everywhere… from the biodiversity of ecosystems inhabiting areas with the baobabs, coconut trees or cacti, to variety of urban communities, informal settlements, indigenous tribes, and their respective lifestyles.
 
Furthermore this diversity is followed by an impressive assortment of non governmental and social organizations, functioning as aid to country’s improvement. I learned that only in one Nairobi slum there are hundreds organizations working for the slum’s causes! In one of these – named the Mathare slum, I also found an Earth Charter affiliate organization with whom I got in contact thanks to Jaana, our Earth Charter youth coordinator.
 
I arrived to Kenya as a young environmentalist who came to support for 6 months the work of the United Nations Environment Programme in Nairobi. At the same time representing the Earth Charter youth group, I couldn’t miss a chance to meet and to visit one of the Earth Charter Youth Group based in Nairobi – Mathare Roots group
 
To visit them at a first place was a challenge. I was new in Nairobi and fairly unfamiliar with the area, furthermore I have never seen or been in the slums ever before! I was confused what to expect, I was unsure how to behave there particularly being “mzungu” (a white person), but I felt really ambitious to meet a group of young enthusiasts devoted to better and improve their community. To connect with them was my eagerness. 
 
I very soon received a welcoming feedback from the Mathare Roots group leader Elijah. I started to plan my visit, while very soon by a positive chance met a Finnish girl, Tiina, who as turned out already some years is closely involved in Mathare Roots youth work. With her grateful heart she facilitated a tree planting event for the Mathare slum with participation of Mathare Roots youth, and undoubtedly I was enthusiastic to support her initiative. 
 
At a day of event we together were heading to Mathare slums, changing one matatu (public transport in Kenya) to another, crossing crowded Nairobi downtown and the central business district into direction towards the “other reality”, home of more then 500 000 inhabitants of Nairobi…
 
A bunch of very smiling, accurate and friendly kids surrounded us after we arrived to the destination. There we were also accompanied by few German girls joining the initiative, and George – Elijah’s friend and co-founder of the organization.
 
George is a very enthusiastic young guy grown up together with Elijah in Mathare slum, and both eagerly decided one day to improve their home, and to connect with the world around them for the support. That’s how Mathare Roots joined the force of the Earth Charter. I got a chance to visit their “office”, which turned out to be a very tiny small room in an old abandoned house, which is now livable with few chairs, the colorful graffiti on the wall spelling the organization’s name, pinned cardboard with the alphabet letters, few decorations and a computer – their digital window and a grasp to the outside world. Through the little window – view to the densely crowded street massed with people, animals, noise. Nevertheless this place is appreciated by all the community, and kids may find here joy, peace and educational support.  
 
We decided to plant the trees near the community school. To get there we passed a busy part of the slum, climbing up the garbage hill, and crossing one of their “rivers”, a tiny stream of water contaminated with all possible toxins from the ground. Above that all we carefully carried with us the little trees along with a drop of hope they may bring something good for the community.
 
Each of us had its own little tree, between which were also few mangos. The kids were happy about each little sprout and with a care were bringing clean water from the school’s tank to water them. They were also cheerful to play with the camera while I taught them to film and make pictures. There is no happier moment for those kids as to hold one in their hands.

 
With a joy and enthusiasm they were running around with a camera, recording the moments of our tree planting event. I collected and edited the captured moments into one video, to showcase their efforts for both the filming and planting the trees. I think they did a great job:

 
At the end of the day we all together with George decided to bring the kids beyond the usual borders of their “home” and to rest having some fun in one of Nairobi’s parks. For the kids it had been a great day, and the same way we all enjoyed it.
 
To meet Mathare Roots youth, and George had been an experience which encouraged to think how diverse is the Earth Charter and all of us who shape it, and how important is to connect and to learn about each other. With our assorted abilities, realities, experiences there is always something we can do for each other. 
 
George’s and Elijah’s enthusiasm and devotion to initiate and develop the Mathare Roots organization showcases that each of us may become an essential element of drive to influence lives of the others and better our communities.
 
If you wish to get in touch with Mathare Roots youth group or to support by any means their activities, kindly liaise with Elijah (his contacts in the video credits). Yet if it happens for you to be in Nairobi, I very much encourage you to visit them.


   Irina Pleva, Latvia

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UNEP hosted a symposium in Nairobi where the Earth Charter was highlighted

Nobel Peace Laureate and Earth Charter Commissioner, Wangari Maathai, participated in the “Symposium on Climate Change and Sustainable Cities” held in Nairobi, Kenya on August 31, 2009 where she highlighted the relevance of the Earth Charter as an instrument for education for sustainability and challenged UNEP to adopt this important declaration as an organizing principle for the second half of the Decade.

 

Peter Blaze Corcoran, faculty member at the Florida Golf Coast University (Earth Charter Affiliate) and Director of FGCU’s Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education was also participating and offered a keynote speech drawing the audience’s attention to the value of the Earth Charter, particularly in the efforts on education for sustainable development.

 

“We know what to do. Why aren’t we doing it?” asked Maathai, who in 2004 became the first woman from Africa to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Born in Kenya, she is also the first woman from East Africa to earn a doctorate. In 1977, she founded the Green Belt Movement, which for over thirty years has worked to improve the lives of poor women through a holistic approach to sustainable development. Maathai urged her audience to bridge the gap between ethical principles and practice, stating: “There are enormously thought-provoking words in this document. What we should do, instead of just reading through, is to reflect on what the words mean so that we can be moved to action.”

 

The conference marked a powerful opportunity to elevate the role of the Earth Charter within the Decade and within UNEP. In her capacity as a global ambassador for the Earth Charter, Maathai articulated the rationale, significance, and inspiration of the Earth Charter in education for sustainability.

 

In his speech, Prof. Corcoran reflected on the Earth Charter, describing its development and drafting process: “The Earth Charter reminds us that we have an ethical responsibility to secure the bounty and beauty of Earth for generations to come.” He also recognized Maathai’s great contribution to a better future for Africa, saying: “She touches our hearts and minds with her courage, with her commitments to environmental education and self-determination for Africa, and her stubborn hope that governments and intergovernmental agencies will bring about the people’s desire for peace through environmental sustainability.”

 

Their keynote address was presented to an invited audience of one hundred diplomats, United Nations officials (including UNEP Director General Achim Steiner), local dignitaries, and scholars from African universities gathered for a “Symposium on Climate Change Education and Sustainable Cities.” The symposium was part of the annual meeting of the Inter-Agency Committee (IAC) which manages the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (UNDESD).

 

The one-day climate change symposium focused on the role of education in building sustainable cities. The IAC for the UNDESD is a multilateral forum that brings together representatives from all UN agencies and programs, including the World Bank.

 

See speech of UNEP Director General, Achim Steiner here

More information on the event here   

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Planting Trees for Peace in Kenya

Two active members of the Earth Charter world are coming together in the Maai Mahiu Rift Valley of Kenya with a new initiative aimed at the long-term sustainability, peace, and security of the region. Green Cross Sweden, an Earth Charter Affiliate, is working in cooperation with Earth Charter Commissioner (and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate) Wangari Maathai’s Green Belt Movement to begin a process of reconciliation and environmental management among the peoples of the valley.

The Massai, herdsman, and the Kikuya, farmers, have been in conflict for decades – conflict heightened by competition for land and water after deforestation and over-grazing has led to a shortened annual rainfall. Through a succession of community dialogues, workshops, and seminars on environmental education and management, the Massai and Kikuya will come together to learn the basics of managing tree nurseries. Green Cross Sweden (the project coordinator, in cooperation with Green Cross Japan) and the Green Belt Movement are excited about this new project, which they hope can spread inspiration for mediating similar environmental conflicts around the world.

Read the project abstract here

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