Lebanon Archives - Earth Charter

Engaging Arab Youth in Sustainable Development: A Reflection by ECYL, Mohammed Ba-Aoum

Since the late 21st century, the Arab Region has been one of the world’s most unstable regions. Violent wars and both latent and manifest conflicts have raged almost non-stop due to ideological, socioeconomic, ethnic and religious conflict. According to the World, Bank, youth comprise roughly 30 percent of the region’s total population (representing over 108 million), which is the largest number of young people to transition into adulthood in the area’s history. Therefore, engaging Arab youth in peace building and sustainable development program could play a significant role in restoring and maintaining stability in the entire region as well as the world.  On August 2-3 UNESCO held a workshop in Beirut, Lebanon to empower Arab youth and leverage their impact in sustainable development. The workshop entitled “Education for Sustainable Development Leadership Training,” was designed using a UNESCO curriculum developed by Earth Charter International (ECI).ESDgrouppic

Forty-one out of 450 applicants from the Arab world were selected to participate in the ESD Leadership Training in Beirut. The participants, aged 18 to 35, come from 17 different Arab countries and are all active leaders in sustainable development within their communities. They came from diverse backgrounds and work in different fields, including youth NGOs, education, communications, marketing, and business.

I had the honor to be one of the successful applicants who attended the program. Although I attended several youth forums before ESD, I found the ESD unique in engaging the participants with the theory and practice of ESD, based on a participatory and collective learning approach.  The workshop stimulated the participants to find connections and links between their diverse backgrounds and fundamental issues in sustainable development.  The two days training covered topics on sustainability, ESD, systems thinking, conflict transformation, leadership, visioning, communications, facilitation, networking, monitoring, and evaluation. These topics were taught through pre-online homework exercises, short talks, dialogues and practical activities, which made the program informative and entertaining.  Also, the program included a trip to the Taanayel and Shouf regions in Lebanon, where participants visited eco-friendly businesses (Eco-lodge), and water, energy, and agricultural infrastructure projects to get hands-on experience and observe a real model for a sustainable development project.

There was a very positive atmosphere throughout the program where the diversity of backgrounds and interests of the participants were celebrated as a rich source of knowledge, collaboration, love, and friendship, rather than as a source of conflict. The workshop succeeded in empowering the youth and creating a network among them for exchange and collaboration, which will make this event a start for multiple sustainable development initiatives in the Arab world. I was delighted to be part of this event, and I feel thankful to the UNESCO, the Earth Charter International and all those who contributed in making this ideal environment reality.

Written by ECYL: Mohammed Ba-Aoum

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Launch of Middle East and North Africa Earth Charter Network

On 23 and 24 November 2010, a special celebration of the 10th Earth Charter anniversary took place in Jordan, under the patronage of HRH Princess Basma Bint Talal and the Jordanian Hashemite Fund for Human Development  (JOHUD).  The objectives were to raise awareness about the EC in Jordan and in the region, share experiences and forge collaboration between regional organizations.  As a result, a regional Earth Charter network for Middle East and North Africa was created, and strategic actions and way forward were discussed and agreed.

The first day of the event, around 200 people gathered at Movenpick Hotel in the Dead Sea, Jordan, where HRH Princess Basma offered her views on the importance of the Earth Charter for the region, she said:  “the Earth Charter is in line with our region’s culture and lifestyle. Our commitment to the EC is evident, but we need to do more actions, we need to do what is simply right”.   She offered an overview of the contributions of Jordan society to the drafting process of the Charter,  and actions that have taken place during this last 10 years.  She highlighted the translation of the EC Teacher’s Guidebook into Arabic and how this resource was distributed to schools throughout the country.   At the end of her speech, she expressed hope that this meeting leads to more use and promotion of the sustainability vision that is articulated in the Earth Charter.

In this occasion, IUCN regional office launched a toolkit in Arabic of the water initiative called WANI. Mr. Mark Smith from IUCN Headquarters presented this material and made the official launch. In addition, he reflected on the complementary missions of IUCN and Earth Charter Initiative.

In the first panel discussion, Prof. Peter Blaze Corcoran offered, on behalf of the Earth Charter International, a thorough presentation of what have been the most important highlights and outcomes of the Earth Charter in the last ten years, in areas such as education, private sector, youth and global governance.   In addition, Mr. Odeh Al-Jayyousi, IUCN Regional Director highlighted the importance of the EC as an educational tool for sustainable development and the importance of a continued collaboration.  Dr. Sawsan Majali, Director of ZENID offered an overview of actions to put in practice the Earth Charter in Jordan.   Finally, Mr. Mustafa Naseredin, from TAG group, offered his views on the importance of the Earth Charter as a framework to motivate new ways of doing business.  He reflected on the complementarities between EC, Global Compact and GRI.

A second panel was organized to share experiences of the Earth Charter in action, each panelist discussed one of the four pillars of the Earth Charter.  Mr. Ibrahim Al-Zubi from Emirates Diving Association discussed about Respect and Care for the Community of Life;  Mr. Yehya Khaled from Royal Society of Conservation of Nature shared thoughts on the notion of Ecological Integrity; Mr. Emad Adly from RAED Network reflected on his work on Social and Economic Justice and Mr. Melhem Mansour from Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Syria about Democracy, Non Violence and Peace.

Then, participants divided into five groups to discuss the role of the Earth Charter in education, private sector, youth, policy making, planning and in evaluation and assessment for sustainability.

The second day of the meeting, the working groups identified priority actions for each area discussed, they started to develop a regional plan for putting the actions identified into practice, and discussed on a collaboration effort to start a regional Earth Charter network.

Participants representing organizations of 11 countries (Governmental, International and Non Governmental Organizations) committed to get involved in this network.  The countries represented were:  Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

There was an agreement to have JOHUD as the coordinating entity for this network, who will be in close communication with the members and ECI Secretariat.    The participant’s commitment is expressed in a final declaration signed by all, which was presented to HRH Princess Basma on the last day.

Find here the Dead Sea Declaration (in Arabic and English).

Also, a video that presents JOHUD’s work in Jordan, and how it reflects the principles of the EC.

Finally, a report of the event done by JOHUD staff (only in Arabic), some photos and an article from the Jordan Times.

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