“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.”
Guest post by Simran Vedvyas, Earth Charter Youth UAE
Dubai Cares and its initiatives are supporting millions worldwide by their support to Education and the residents are very proud to join in.
“I have participated every year since the first walk took place and this is my 6th time” says Simran Vedvyas, the founder of SynergY and Country Activator for Earth Charter UAE.
Dubai Cares organizes this Walk for Education, which calls upon residents and organizations in the UAE to walk three kilometers in solidarity with the millions of children in developing countries that walk long distances on a daily basis to go to school.
SynergY took part in support of the Dubai Cares initiative but also in support of the Earth Charter +15 celebrations under the slogan “One Earth Community, One Common Destiny”. The members of SynergY enjoyed cheering and singing and even the group’s youngest participants Avishi Chauhan and Nithya Makin who are only six years old, completed the full walk.
SynergY has promoted the Walk through social media and has seen rise in number of participants each year. The group has a dedicated page for supporting the cause – says Aswathi Jayakumar, a student and group member. SynergY is constantly promoting and raising awareness about the Millennium Development Goals and Education for All is crucial and important, especially “Primary Education in developing countries”. SynergY learns from the Earth Charter and affirms gender equality and equity as prerequisites to sustainable development and to ensure universal access to education, health care, and economic opportunity. SynergY asks all members of civil society to reach out and find how they can support and teach at least one child and how this will make a difference.
This month’s Earth Charter Youth Group of the Month goes to Synergy, an active youth group based in Dubai, which has gathered students from across the United Arab Emirates who want to take action towards raising awareness around environmental, social, and economic issues that affect youth every day.
Synergy specifically focuses on areas such as education, health, welfare, and the environment and all their actions follow the Earth Charter’s values and principles.
The Synergy team has been involved in many different projects throughout the last year, including:
– Participated in the UEA National Environment Week 2013 by organizing a Digging, Planting, and Learning activity with the intention to raise awareness by reconnecting with nature, stimulating action, and understanding recycling and composting processes.
– Provided support to children around the world who do not have access to school by taking part in the Walk for Education 2013.
– Contributed to the Earth Hour 2013 project, which consists of turning off lights and other electronic devices for one hour in order to get people to rethink how they consume energy and what they can do to reduce excessive use. On this occasion, Synergy promoted environmental education through a wall of expression on which hundreds of people wrote their messages, and Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) awarded them for their participation.
Simran Vedvyas, the Synergy founder, joined ECI during its last webinar with Severn Cullis-Suzuki on “Empowering Young Leaders through Education”, which was organized on April 22, 2013, on the occasion of International Earth Day. With Synergy, Simran has managed to build a strong and creative team, which keeps promoting sustainable lifestyles and acting towards the vision they believe in.
Earth Charter International would like to congratulate Synergy and its members for all of their efforts striving to build a more educated and dedicated group of youth sustainability change makers in the Middle East, and looks forward to continuing to follow and support them on their journey.
We deeply encourage our Earth Charter Youth Groups around the world to keep up the great work, to keep us informed with their activities and projects and to keep on updating their Wikispace pages, which is a great tool to connect with a global and active youth network aiming to build a more just and peaceful world!
To know more about Synergy, visit the website or their Wikispace page.
To create an Earth Charter Youth Group, please fill out an application here.
The Eye on Earth Summit (Eye on Earth 2011) convened under the Patronage of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), from 12-15 December 2011 in Abu Dhabi, UAE. The Summit brought together over 1000 participants, representing governments, international organizations, academia, the private sector and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Held under the theme “Convene, Converge, Collaborate,” discussions during Eye on Earth 2011 centered on strengthening existing efforts and inspiring a search for unified, global solutions to the issues that preclude access to data.
Eye on Earth 2011 featured plenary sessions featuring keynote speeches and panel sessions on varying issues, including water security, financing, disaster management, and oceans and blue carbon. The Summit also featured open sessions, during which four working groups on “Policy, Governance and Institutional Networking,” “Content and User Needs,” “Technical Infrastructure,” and “Capacity Building, Education and Awareness,” took place to finalize the Special Initiatives that were launched at the end of the event. Former US President Bill Clinton, Sha Zukang, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs and Secretary-General of Rio+20, Achim Steiner, Executive Director, UNEP, presenting on the EOE mission, Jane Goodall, Jack Dangermond, Henry Puna – Prime Minister Cook Island, were amongst the many speakers listed.
Simran Vedvyas represents the youth from around the world whose population is 1.1 billion which constitutes 18% of the total world population proudly. Simran, a Student member with the Emirates Environmental Group – UAE for the last 5 years, has also participated in the Earth Hour Events for the last 5 years–Clean Up drives, Toners, plastic, Can Collection and tree planting initiatives for a safer Environment. She not only participates but also advocates for the same through various platforms like painting and photography, through internet, debates and blogs, but also by conducting workshops for students to raise environmental awareness. Simran participated in the Earth Charter and Youth Action for Change Online short course entitled, “Youth Leadership Sustainability and Ethics” and was recently appointed as the Earth Charter Youth Group (ECYG) Country Activator for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on a voluntary basis and therefore promoted the importance of utilizing the Earth Charter as a valuable framework towards building a more sustainable and peaceful world.
The Declaration was signed at The Eye on Earth Summit! Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary-General, Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD)presented the EOE Summit Declaration, which was signed by herself, H E Rashid Ahmed Bin Fahad and Peter Gilruth, UNEP. As a youth delegate from the UAE, Simran presented her notes about the discussions that had been held over the course of Summit. She was mentioned that the Summit had been “eye-opening.” She said that participants should ask themselves “What is the one thing I can do today that will benefit the environment?” Then she finished by saying, “whatever the answer is, the time to act is now, and there is an urgent need to deliver on the promises made. We need to deliver the vision.” An inspiring Video presentation was shown which also moved the huge audiences that were present.
EDA is a nonprofit voluntary federal organization based in the United Arab Emirates and is accredited by UNEP as an international environmental organization. EDA´s main objective is to conserve, protect, and restore the U.A.E’s marine resources by empathizing with and promoting the marine environment and environmental diving.
EDA is the first EC Initiative affiliate in U.A.E. It is well-known in the Arab region for starting the Clean-up Arabia campaign for beaches and the ocean and many other activities to involve divers and the general public in marine conservation and environmental protection.
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.
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.