Local Communities and Governments Archives - Earth Charter

Walas and the Earth Charter in Sustainable Urban Development

Gerben-van-Straaten-03-png-684x1024The Earth Charter newsletter published in July, featured the interview with Gwendolyn Hallsmith, renowned city planner, who shares her experience using the Earth Charter and a specific methodology called EarthCAT (Earth Charter Community Action Tool) with several cities.

In this newsletter we share with you several videos of the interview with Gerben van Straaten. He is the founder and CEO of World of Walas. This international company, specialized in Sustainable Urban Development, uses the Earth Charter as the ethical compass in all levels of the organization, for its projects and all its other activities. Gerben was inspired by the principles of the Earth Charter from very early on and decided the document had to be used as the guideline on which all decisions were based. This drew the attention of Earth Charter International and a partnership with the World of Walas was developed. Gerben thought it was necessary to develop an Earth Charter adaptation for cities to make it easier to put its principles in practice in urban development and city planning. As a result, the Earth Charter Cities Manifesto was created and presented at the 2010 celebration of the Earth Charter in The Hague, The Netherlands. Driven by the Earth Charter, the Earth Charter Cities Manifesto guides people everywhere in creating communities that are healthy, inclusive and sustainable. The Earth Charter Cities Manifesto defines 16 principles to inspire and guide all citizens, urban organizations, businesses, communities, governments and institutions.

The interview tells a personal story of dedication to create a just, sustainable and peaceful global society based on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace. This video interview also shares how this company, working in the field of urban sustainability, implements the Earth Charter principles in its business model.

To watch the interview with Gerben van Straaten click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iy1QyvVZjJ4&list=PLzi07WlvVry-HY8uiH7XjhQU-sjXjtVFt

Click here for more information: https://worldofwalas.com/

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Video Interview on Planning for Sustainable Cities

Earth Charter International Secretariat developed a series of video based on an interview with Gwendolyn Hallsmith in which she shares her experience on: Planning for Sustainable Cities.

Gwendolyn Hallsmith is the founder and Executive Director of Global Community Initiatives (GCI). She has over 25 years of experience working with municipal, regional, and state government in the United States and internationally.  She learned about the Earth Charter in 2001, and since then, has been an actively promoting the use of the Earth Charter in city planning processes.

She was part of the committee that created EarthCAT:  Guide to Community Development, which is a methodology that cities can use to infuse the principles of sustainability contained in the Earth Charter in their master plans.

Find the three video interview with Gwendolyn in this link:

 

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International Congress on Habitat and Sustainable Cities GBCCR 2018

Green Building 2Forty-five presenters in the field of Sustainable Urban Development gathered to share their expertise and vision on the current and future life in cities during the 5th Congress of Sustainable Cities organized by the Green Building Council Costa Rica (GBCCR) 17 – 18 May 2018. Many emerging challenges and solutions in urban development were pointed out, especially given the rapid growing urban population and the pressure it generates on natural resources use. All agreed on the fact that we need to stop working in silo’s, create multi-stakeholders alliances, start sharing knowledge and find ways to cooperate to transform urban area’s into vibrant, safe, livable cities.

City of Love

At the opening session, the President of the Green Building Council, Mr. Tai Lee Siang said that building innovation should focus on zero waste and the basic understanding of the broad vision of sustainability. At the end, he presented key ideas of his book ‘Cities of love’, in which he makes a point that if we love something, we care for it. “If we love our city, we will care for it as we do for our family.” Mr. Tai Lee Siang stressed the importance of constant feedback loop between the users, the builders and all those involved in a development project.

The morning session also counted with a speech by the new first lady of Costa Rica, Claudia Dobles (architect and urban planner), who reaffirmed her determination to help address the challenges of public transportation and mobility in San Jose. She stressed a number of key ideas on the importance of better articulation, cooperation and true commitments of both the public and the private sector. She said that “we need to rethink how we design urban planning… and the vision of the city we want…. we have to consider cities as instruments to generate employment and to address social inequalities”.

Green Building 3Several presenters emphasized the importance to move ahead towards the vision of “smart cities” as a place that seeks the quality of life of its inhabitants and that considers the interconnectedness of various sectors.

Earth Charter

Among the Sustainability experts was Mirian Vilela, Executive Director of the Earth Charter International Center on Education for Sustainable Development. At the closing plenary, she talked about the excitement many feel when they arrive in a big city until you realize the huge number of people consuming water, food, energy and generating waste in such a condensed space and short time. Mirian emphasized the need for long-term urban planning and visioning through a broad sustainability and values-based approach. She shared a few examples of cities that have used the Earth Charter as a road map for their policy design and urban planning. She encouraged participants to consider these examples and use the Earth Charter as an ethical framework for sustainable urban development and as a compass when seeking to transform cities into centers of innovation.

Irma Verhoeven, Programme and Partnership Development manager at the Earth Charter International Secretariat and project manager at the World of Walas (author of the Earth Charter Cities Manifesto) shared the techniques Walas’ uses to transform old industrial areas into vibrant neighborhoods. These techniques are based on the values described in the Earth Charter.

The Weight of Cities

Green Building 1Adriana Zacarias (Regional Coordinator of Resource Efficiency sub-programme at UNEP at the Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean) presented a summary of the UN Environment report “The Weight of Cities” at the opening plenary.

During the session ‘Smart Cities II’ Prof. Mark Swilling of the Stellenbosch University in South Africa, presented details of the findings of this important research study on Requirements for Future Urbanization. The UNEP report is a ‘must read’ for everyone, especially in the work field of Sustainable Development. Find here the link to both the summary as well as the full report.

¨We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to shift this expected urbanization on to a more environmentally sustainable and socially just path. Decisions made today on urbanization and land-use models, as well as on critical infrastructure, will determine whether our investments are future-proof, or whether they lock us on to an unsustainable path.¨

To achieve a transition to low-carbon, resource-efficient, socially just cities, the report recommends:

  •  Monitoring the flow of resources entering and leaving the cities to understand the local situation and to help develop resource-efficient strategies.
  •  Planning cities to have:
  • Compact growth, to avoid urban sprawl and so economize on the square kilometres of asphalt, the concrete, the electricity and the water wasted in spread-out cities.
  • Better connections by efficient and affordable public transport (e.g. light rail, bus rapid transit).
  • Liveable neighbourhoods where design encourages people to walk or cycle.
  • Resource-efficient urban components, such as car sharing, electric vehicles and charging point networks, efficient energy, efficient waste and water systems, smart grids, cycle paths, energy-efficient buildings, new heating, cooling and lighting technology, etc.
  • Infrastructure for cross-sector efficiency, such as using waste heat from industry in district energy systems and industrial waste materials in construction, such as fly-ash bricks.
  •  Establishing a new model for city governance and politics that supports imaginative business propositions and experimentation.

In conclusion

Although there are many good examples of sustainability urban planning, broadly, urban planning and cities are still being managed with fragmented, short-term and unsustainable approaches. Cities generate an incredible pressure on natural resources. Therefore, educating the general public, policy makers and builders on the basic understanding of sustainability and the true value of green building is essential. It is safe to say that the CICS2018 conference offered high quality information presented by key experts working on the transformation toward Sustainable Cities.

For more information on this Congress click here.

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The city of Victoria in Canada endorsers the Earth Charter

By: Earth Charter Friends of CanadaEC Canada logo

The City of Victoria, in British Columbia, Canada, endorsed the Earth CharterVictoria Endorsement 1 this past June. The City mayor indicated that the “Charter’s key principles of global interdependence, sustainability and peaceful coexistence
are all shared values held by the City of Victoria… The Charter further aligns with the goals and vision we have for our city, and reflects the imagination and innovation that characterizes Victoria as a sustainable capital.”

This endorsement was a result of democratic and collaborative processes between the Faith in Action Committee and Councillors of the City of Victoria, with strong support from the community. The process took place over several months and is an inspiring example of what can happen when a small group of people choose to act.

Faith in Action Committee organized campaigns to raise Victoria Endorsement 2awareness and support for the Earth Charter. An information session with Elizabeth May and Gerben van Straaten, Earth Charter Affiliate, introduced the Earth Charter to the local community and explored how to implement it in cities.

A petition was circulated to call on local governments to endorse the core principles of (1) respect and care for the community of life; (2) ecological integrity; (3) social and economic justice; and (4) democracy, non-violence and peace.

Victoria Endorsement 3

The committee then presented the mayor and councillors with the petition and asked for their endorsement. It was a natural fit for the city, and they were supportive with two councillors choosing to work with Faith in Action through the rest of the democratic process.

With this endorsement, the City of Victoria joins a large number of other cities, communities and organizations around the world who are committed who embrace the spirit and aims of the Earth Charter.

Click here to read the official letter of endorsement of the City of Victoria, British Columbia.

 

 

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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.

 

Photo 1

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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Mexican Conference on ESD and Endorsement of the Earth Charter

Patzcuaro-teachers-sustainable-developmentOn April 15th, 2016 the Technological Institute of Patzcuaro, Mexico, endorsed the Earth Charter and organized, in the framework of this endorsement, the Conference on Education for Sustainable Development. This conference is a response to the Mexican government’s commitment to the Global Action Program on ESD from UNESCO. Three hundred educators of higher education and secondary education attended the conference, along with government authorities from the Ministry of Environment, Education and the local government.

Patzcuaro endorsement education sustainable developmentThere were several meaningful discussions at the conference about how universities can create educational programs that promote a more just, peaceful and sustainable society.

In addition, the Pedagogical University of Veracruz also endorsed the Earth Charter. In the text of the endorsement document, the University expresses its commitment in the following terms:

Patzcuaro endorsement earth charter mexico“We pledge to use the Earth Charter as a guide and ethical framework for decision-making, in the development of plans and policies, and as an educational tool for sustainable development of the state, under the vision and goals of the document that seeks a just, sustainable, and more peaceful world”.

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New publication: Environmental Urban Management Guide

Guia gestion ambiental VenezuelaThe Urban Life and Environment Research Group of Simon Bolivar University in Venezuela, created the booklet called: “Environmental Urban Management Guide”. They published it in collaboration of the Environmental Commission of the National Academy on Engineer and Habitat, the Orinoco Group and Konrad Adenauer Foundation.

This publication is a descriptive manual that offer insights about environmental urban management for municipalities.  It collects information of different processes that would lead to an adequate environmental management in cities.  This Guide uses the Earth Charter as a reference, and has been distributed to municipalities throughout Venezuela.

Download this publication here (available only in Spanish).

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Earth Charter and Earth Charter Cities in Malta

earth-charter-cities-gerben-van-straaten-malta-nov-2015 CEO Gerben van Straaten of World of Walas presents the Earth Charter From November 12 – 14, 2015, an assembly of important conferences on Malta brought together a diverse group of people to deliberate their common futures. The world’s large immigration issues, the future of climate and the earth, and a desired reset of the ways we do business and govern our planet were important themes. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the Climate Conference in Paris provided focus to the conference.

At the nexus of sustainability, business, and education, Gerben van Straaten, the CEO of the World of Walas, presented the Earth Charter and the Earth Charter Cities program at the 29th Annual Businet Conference. His keynote addressed how the Earth Charter guides us towards more sustainable and more ethical business practices, with a focus on the importance of improving the way we develop and operate our cities.

Earth Charter International and the Walas Group are collaborating on Earth Charter Cities to raise awareness for a more sustainable approach for our cities. The Earth Charter Cities program works with certification systems, cities, communities, colleges and universities, and companies to bring the global vision of the Earth Charter to cities around the world, based on their local needs. Working with ECI, Gerben and the World of Walas will launch the Earth Charter Cities program in 2016.

We would be delighted to work with the larger Earth Charter network on this and invite you all to be in touch if you are interested in working with us or learning more. For more information, please contact us at:

ECC@teamwalas.com

To read the Earth Charter Cities Manifesto, click here: earthchartercities.org/manifesto

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German Affiliate releases new publication

The Ecumenical One World Initiative (OEWI), the Earth Charter Affiliate in Germany, has released a new publication in German highlighting the different initiatives related to the Earth Charter in the region around Marburg. The publication showcases different groups and people who work for a sustainable, peaceful, and just global coexistence aligned with the values of the Earth Charter. They portray their initiatives, talk about their work, visions, and ideas. The publication is titled “People and City in Transition”.

These and many other people introduce themselves on the Internet portal www.nachhaltig-lernen-regionmarburg.de and also publish their educational programs and activities.

You can download the publication and see its format and design from the Earth Charter Virtual Library.

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EC Youth Group Students for the Earth organizes EC+15 photo contest

Guest post by George Zacharia

“Every walk with nature, just helps you to realize that there is still more you can do for it.”

This was one of the messages received for the “My 2015 Environmental Message Competition” organized by Students for the Earth, an EC Youth Group, in support of the 15th anniversary of the Earth Charter.

Students for the Earth, is a youth group based in the United Arab Emirates that engages in a variety of activities including environmental, humanitarian, and cultural activities, and was founded in 2013. The group has organized workshops, visits, volunteering activities, and charity collections. It organizes campaigns and competitions on social media to spread awareness. Students for the Earth was selected as the October 2013 youth group the month. They recently participated in a Clean Up Drive to clean up the city of Sharjah, and also organized an all UAE online quiz and art competition to celebrate the country’s national day in December.

The competition asked students from grades KG1-Grade 13 to come up with their messages for 2015. It had to be less than 15 words. To spread awareness about the Earth Charter’s anniversary, we also asked students to add “#ECplus15” in their messages. Even though the notice was short, the group received a lot of entries and 14 finalists were chosen. From them, one winner was selected by popular vote and six winners were selected by a panel of judges. The competition was able to reach to more than 12,000 people from different countries.


“We never expected such a large response to the competition. We are glad that we were able to let students know about Earth Charter and its principles and also how they could bring it about in their lives,” said George Zacharia, the founder of the group. One of the comments read, “Good work dear Kids! You Students for the Earth proved to be real teachers of Mother Earth.”

The group is planning to organize more events this year including a one-day environmental conference by youth and various other activities. The group can be contacted through its Facebook page: www.facebook.com/studentsfortheearth or studentsfortheearth@gmail.com.

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