Thailand Archives - Earth Charter

Empowering Asia-Pacific Youth Leaders on Education for Sustainable Development

The Asia-Pacific region is characterized by diversity in all aspects – landscape, culture, ecology, religion, and ethnicity. It is also home to more than 4.3 billion people, or approximately 60% of total world’s population. Despite economic growth, social development, and technological advances, the region hosts many different serious global activitieschallenges. More than two-thirds of people lack access to basic sanitation, underweight children and extreme poverty can be found in the region. The region is considered to be the most vulnerable in the world when it comes to natural disaster. All of these challenges call for a sustainable solution which can help maintain human dignity of our fellow human beings. Education for Sustainable Development is viewed as one of the solutions, which can empower the learners to tackle these challenges and transform the society.

In cooperation with the Earth Charter International (ECI), Goi Peace Foundation, and Compass Education; UNESCO Bangkok – Asia Pacific Regional Bureau for Education hosted the Asia-Pacific Workshop for Youth Leadership Training on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) from 15-17 November, 2017 in Bangkok, Thailand. The training saw the participation of more than 30 representatives with different backgrounds across the Asia-Pacific. I was fortunate enough to be selected as one of ECI representatives to join this training. Within the three-day workshop, we had an opportunity to deepen our understanding of ESD as well as to discuss various topics under ESD, such as sustainability, systems thinking, and conflict transformation.

Each session was very interactive by using different activities, such as games, dialogue, and reflection. Consequently, many of us fully engaged with the topics and learned many new things from not only the facilitators but other role playparticipants. A full-day field trip to Bang Krachao, known as the “green lung of Bangkok”, was marked as a the final day of the workshop. This field trip was mainly facilitated by Compass Education and we gained comparative learning by observing how the community sustains itself economically, environmentally, and socially reflecting upon what we had discussed during the workshop.

In summary, I feel very grateful to UNESCO Bangkok, the Earth Charter International, Goi Peace Foundation, and Compass Education for bringing us to this wonderful workshop. I feel thankful for all of the friends that I met during the workshop for their respect, contribution, and open-minds. As a future peace educator, I found the workshop empowering and useful. Through this workshop, I could expand my understanding of ESD and broaden my international network of like-minded people in the Asia-Pacific region. This gives me a hope that we together can transform the region and the world for a better tomorrow.

Written by: Former Earth Charter Intern, Phat Nguyen
Photos by: UNESCO Bangkok and Compass Education

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UNESCO Asia-Pacific Youth Training on ESD held in Bangkok, Thailand

I had the wonderful opportunity to co-faciliate the UNESCO Youth Leadership Training on Education for 23843582_10201263045554425_3980075255395596938_nSustainable Development (ESD) for the Asia-Pacific Region from 15-17 November, 2017 in Bangkok, Thailand with Patrick Petit from Goi Peace Foundation. This two-day training is designed to sensitize youth on ESD concepts and strengthen their capacity to become ESD multipliers in order to reach a more just and sustainable world. This effort aims in helping the implementation of UNESCO Global Action Programme on ESD Priority Area #4, which is focused on youth engagement.

This youth training was hosted by UNESCO Bangkok – Asia Pacific Regional Bureau for Education with collaboration from the Earth Charter International (ECI), Goi Peace Foundation, and Compass Education. There were 36 youth participants from 24 countries across the Asia-Pacific region as far east as the Cook Islands all the way to Iran farthest west. Within the three-day workshop, we had an opportunity to deepen our understanding and knowledge on ESD through topics such as systems thinking, and conflict transformation, leadership, communication, networking, and more.

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The focus of the workshop was to use experiential learning to digest the materials. We involved role-play, listening activities, visioning activities, dancing, dialogue and much more. As a facilitator I learned so much from the participants’ experiences and traditions from all of their countries. We ended the second day with participants volunteering to show the group their traditional dances while playing their music from back home. The rest of the group had to follow suit and dance what they just learned. It was a rich experience being able to share thoughts, concepts, ideas, and stories for three days.

The last day was an excursion to Bang Krachao, an artificial island south of Bangkok known as the “Green Lung” community of the Chao Phraya River. The field trip design focused on the integration of a natural mangrove ecosystem and a traditional agricultural community into a metropolitan urban landscape supporting community livelihoods. We used the AtKisson Sustainability Compass as an observation and data collection lens in conjunction with systems thinking games and synthesis methods to understand the linkages and relationships that exist in this community. The experiential field-learning was facilitated in large part by Compass Education’s Youth Empowerment Programme (YEP) youth leaders (senior high school students ages 17-18 years of age) who are trained and highly experienced with using and teaching/leading others. It was unique inter-generational learning experience beneficial to both the participants and the facilitators.

At the end of the third day participants received their certificates of completion and now they form part of the global network of ESD Youth Leaders around the world. Now participants must return home and replicate a similar workshop in their communities touching on some of the themes we covered over the three days in Bangkok. The idea of this training is to mobilize youth leaders in Education for Sustainable Development around the world in order to solve our most pressing challenges for a sustainable future. I believe youth returned home with hope and inspiration to tackle these challenges.

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Written by: Christine Lacayo, Youth Projects Coordinator Earth Charter International
Photos by: Christine Lacayo, UNESCO Bangkok, and Compass Education
For a reflection from participant and Earth Charter Youth, Phat Nguyen, visit: http://earthcharter.org/news-post/empoweing-asia-pacific-youth-leaders-education-sustainable-development/

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The Earth Charter and Buddhist Virtues

From 11 May to 15 May, the 8th Conference of the United Nations Day of Vesak took place in Bangkok, Thailand. The Day of Vesak is an important holiday in the Buddhist tradition, and has been an opportunity over the past eight years to discuss the role of international Buddhism with regards to a number of important global issues, including sustainable development. This year, the theme focused on “Buddhist Virtues in Socio-Economic Development”, with workshops covering everything from “Buddhist Leadership and Social and Economic Development” to “Wisdom for Awakening Society”.

During one of these workshops, focused on “Environmental Preservation and Restoration”, Dr. Colin Soskolne, Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Alberta (Edmonton, Canada), presented a paper on “The Earth Charter for Sustainable Community Development from a Buddhist Virtues’ Perspective”. In this work, he demonstrates the connections between the virtues of Buddhism and the four principles of the Earth Charter. He also discusses the role that Buddhism has had in the development of the Earth Charter, and the need for more widespread adoption of the Charter as a response to the current crises of the world.

Dr. Soskolne’s paper, along with the others from the conference, can be accessed at http://www.icundv.com/vesak2011/en/panelist.php (Dr. Soskolne’s paper is listed under Panel 3). The Earth Charter was also mentioned in the closing remarks of Dr. Colin Butler, chief moderator for the workshop, in its role “… as an accessible set of principles for environmental preservation and restoration.”

Find here more information on the United Nations Day of Vesak

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Living Sustainably with the Earth Charter: The Beluga School for Life, Thailand

The Beluga School for Life is a learning village-community with approximately 240 inhabitants, located in the province of Phang-nga in the south of Thailand. The UNESCO Associated Beluga School for Life, member of the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) and active supporter of the Earth Charter, is home to 150 Thai children from difficult backgrounds, including tsunami survivors, children from poor families and children without domestic security.

The children live together with mentors in small family houses or larger community accommodations. These “families” are also embedded in neighborly and village-like structures. In that social context the children find opportunities to play and to develop responsibility for community. The project also comprises a home for younger children, a kindergarten, a primary school, a secondary school and vocational education.

The sustainable development approach shapes the school’s educational concept, which connects to Principle 3 of the Earth Charter to “Build democratic societies that are just, participatory, sustainable, and peaceful,” as well as Principles 9b and 9c, which state:
“b. Empower every human being with the education and resources to secure a sustainable livelihood, and provide social security and safety nets for those who are unable to support themselves.
“c. Recognize the ignored, protect the vulnerable, serve those who suffer, and enable them to develop their capacities and to pursue their aspirations.”

Following the Earth Charter guidelines for education, the children learn and live in a socially competent, environmentally responsible and entrepreneurially active fashion. Children use their creativity to discover for themselves what sustainability means. Therefore, their school lessons take place not only within the usual limits of the classroom and one specific subject, but are enriched by “learning centers” which incorporate interdisciplinary and project-based learning. Rather than just thematic elements in the curriculum, these learning centers are actual architectural facilities.

The learning centers are:

  • The Center for Organic Farming – with cultivated areas on the large school grounds (7 ha) and a farm (4 ha) for livestock, fruit and vegetables;
  • The Center for Body & Soul – with a small building complex for massages, yoga and spa treatments as well as a soccer field and a basketball/volleyball court;
  • The Center for Nutrition & Health – with a canteen and a professional restaurant kitchen;
  • The Center for Cultural Heritage and Development – with an amphitheater, a tsunami museum, a pavilion of religions and buildings for music, dance and art;
  • The Center for Culture-Sensitive Tourism – with 18 guest pavilions, a swimming pool and a restaurant; and
  • The Center for International Communication – with two buildings for computer and language classes.

The learning centers are run by specialists and aim for income generation, according to Buddhist economics and the philosophy of sufficiency economy, in order to reduce operating costs. For example, 100% of the culture-sensitive tourism proceeds from overnight stays, meals and activities directly benefit the project. The children learn by watching the employees directly in their work, as well as through participation in numerous daily workshops. Education is not hypothetical, but grounded in exclusively practical learning experiences. These experiences include child-based discovery learning and a strong focus on entrepreneurship education that aims to prevent the children from being trapped in the vicious cycle of poverty as adults. Above all, the Beluga School for Life safeguards the children’s right to happiness.

The project was created in 2005 by Niels Stolberg, President and CEO of the Beluga Shipping GmbH. The Beluga School for Life was named by the German UNESCO Commission as an “official project of the UN Decade on Education for Sustainable Development.” Moreover, it is recognized by the IUCN Commission for Education and Communication (CEC) and participates in the “Plant-for-the-Planet” initiative.

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