Youth News Archives - Earth Charter

Earth Charter Youth Stories Around the World

We’re excited to announce 5 inspiring Earth Charter Youth stories from around the world that we have compiled in video format. Find out how these sustainability leaders engaged with the Earth Charter since their younger years and how the Earth Charter continues to influence them today in their different contexts and professional roles.


Assouan Gbesso is from Togo and was an active Earth Charter Young Leader from 2003-2009 engaging youth with the Earth Charter in Togo. He now works as a Programme Officer for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the Republic of Congo and is currently enrolled in the Doctoral Programme at the University for Peace focusing on Peace Education Encountering Youth Radicalization in Mali. Watch his featured story below:


Gabriela Barbosa Batista, former undersecretary of education and socio-environmental mobilization, the Secretary of Environment of Brasília, Brazil, was introduced to the Earth Charter in 2002 during the Second World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil. From this moment on, she has organized groups of young people from the NGO Alternativa Terrazul to work with sustainability projects based on the Earth Charter. Gabriela also organized a national youth seminar. Watch Gabriela’s Earth Charter featured story below:

Costa Rica

Fernando Mora Rodríguez, Deputy Minister of Water, Seas, Coasts, and Wetlands of Costa Rica (2014- 2018), came across the Earth Charter in 2010 as a participant in the youth course on Youth Leadership, Environmental Sustainability, and Ethics. In this video, Fernando tells us about how the Earth Charter has influenced him in his decision-making and some challenges and lessons learned during his experience in public administration. Watch Fernando’s Earth Charter featured story below:

Costa Rica

Nicole Jirón Beirute became involved with the Earth Charter Initiative in 1998, at age 17 when she promoted a consultation process among the university students at the University of Costa Rica (UCR). Since then she participated in the group that promotes the Earth Charter in Costa Rica. In 2001 she worked as the International Youth Coordinator for the Earth Charter International. Watch Nicole’s Earth Charter featured story below:


Esther Kelechi Agbarakwe encountered the Earth Charter in 2006 in Calabar, Nigeria. She participated in an Earth Charter E-Glo (Earth Charter Global Learning Opportunity) training programme using your voice through social media, communications, and blogging to build a sustainable future. In 2016, she went on to work as an Advisor to the Ministry of the Environment in Nigeria and now works as the Climate and SDG Action officer for the United Nations Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth. In this video, Esther explains how she came to know the Earth Charter and how it continues to inspire her in her work today. Watch Esther’s featured Earth Charter story below:

Have you been inspired to engage and act in the Earth Charter Movement? Do you implement the EC values in your life, family, school, or community? How has the Earth Charter affected you? Share your story to reach other youth that may be on the verge of diving in to a new network, lifestyle, and purpose.

ECI envisions to catalyze stories in the form of an essay, video, performance, art work, etc. to share with others through the ECI website, social media, or even in future print publications. Write us at

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Esther Kelechi Agbarakwe’s Earth Charter Youth Story

Esther Kelechi Agbarakwe met the Earth Charter in 2006 in Calabar, Nigeria. She participated in an Earth Charter E-Glo (Earth Charter Global Learning Opportunity) training programme that taught her about using your voice through social media, communications, and blogging to build a sustainable future. In 2016 she went on to work as an Advisor to the Ministry of the Environment in Nigeria and now works as the Climate and SDG Action officer for the United Nations Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth.

“My favorite Earth Charter Principle is the first one- Care for the Community of Life. I love it because it makes me feel more connected to the human species and everything that is on Earth—whether it is a fly, a human being, or a plant. The Earth Charter was really my first entry into environmental issues. Its principles expanded my mind to see things differently (unusual as it may be where I come from). It could really interest you to know that Earth Charter covers a whole wide range of issues, from faith to humanity.

I still have my Earth Charter in Action book in my room. I don´t joke with it. I read it a lot. It reminds you where you´re going. It gives you that inspiration to keep going because it´s hard sometimes. It´s fun a lot of the time, but you always get to a crossroad at some point in your life. You have to look back and see that we´ve come a long way.”

In this video, Esther explains how she came to know the Earth Charter and how it continues to inspire her in her work today. To read her full interview conducted in November 2016 by past Earth Charter Youth Projects Coordinator, Sarah Dobson, go here.

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Youth Advocates Stand up for Human Rights in Yaoundé

To commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), many youth (from a heterogeneous network of nationwide ethnic groups and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) converged on EISERVI, Biyem Assi, Yaoundé, to brainstorm on issues surrounding global human rights practice, with Cameroon in spotlight. The interactive conference, dubbed, ‘stand up for human rights’, which took place on Saturday 12th May, 2018 – featured a video presentation from, in which participants were treated to the 30 articles of the UDHR. Besides, as current or prospective human rights advocates, those present committed themselves to the course by recording their voices through the online portal, – a motion expected to continue in the days ahead.

During the panel discussion featured at the conference, some national and internationally-recognized human rights laws and organs (and their modus operandi) – like: the Earth Charter Initiative; UDHR; AU Charter; UN Charter; National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms Cameroon; etc – were brought to the attention of participants. Panelists and the audience also sought to understand why many people are still grossly unaware of the UDHR (hence their basic human rights entitlements and despite existence of the UDHR since 1948. In a contemporary Capture2context shrouded by the paradox where different countries, world leaders, and or citizens still overtly violate human rights, the discussion also verified what actions governments worldwide were taking to implement/respect basic human rights. The discussions continued with how governments, civil society, and individuals could contribute towards improving human rights experience, while equally ensuring that those charged with the duty of implementing and respecting human rights do so to the latter. Besides, ways of improving citizens’ awareness on basic human rights; and how to stand up for one’s rights; among others were proposed. Quizzed at the end, on what their take-home message was, some participants gave their impressions about the event. To Vania Umenjoh, ‘…the take home message was that as individuals, we have a part to play in promoting & defending human rights…within the legality of our respective contexts. ‘I gathered a lot, among which were: the various means of…promoting and protecting human rights…’, Yaouba divulged.

Likewise, Franktherese Enow stated that despite the errant disregard of some citizens’ human rights: to stand up for such rights, one needed to be conscious of their existence, and that human rights were inalienable (irrespective of status) nationally and internationally. ‘I learnt about the Earth Charter Initiative for the very first time, and I’ll find out more about how to enhance its mission…’, Anne Ando. Suffice it to underscore that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a milestone document (translated into over 500 languages) for upholding human rights globally–– that was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly (resolution 217A) in Paris on 10th December, 1948; setting out for the first time, a common standard for the universal achievements of human rights for all peoples and nations.

Written by: ECYL, Che George Neba

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Mapting International Youth Day Photo Contest Winners!

Thank you for those who participated in our International Youth Day photo contest from 10- 17 August. We were looking for captivating images of SDGs 4 Quality Education and 5 Gender Equality with a caption using the hashtags #YouthDay and #SafeSpaces4Youth.

The top 3 winners received a full scholarship for our next online youth course on Leadership, Sustainability, and Ethics in Spanish (starting 24 September 2018) and English (starting 14 January 2019). For more information on the course visit:

To download the app Mapting, go to:

Check out the winners:

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Celebrating International Youth Day 2018

On Sunday, August 5, we celebrated International Youth Day early with Earth Charter Young Leaders, youth from Quitirrisí, youth from the University for Peace, and Guaravito – Sustentabilidad y Conservación at the University for Peace. Our event consisted of creating a cultural exchange between various groups of youth with different backgrounds and traditions with a central theme of #SafeSpaces. Some of the activities included a blessing of the land by an Elder from Quitirrisí, an introduction to safe spaces for youth by Guaravito – Sustentabilidad y Conservación, an introduction of the Earth Charter and a transformative activity from Joanna Macy. To conclude, we had an interactive walk around the Peace Park to learn more about the biodiversity in the protected area of El Rodeo.

The purpose of our International Youth Day event was to foster a sense of belonging and purpose in our Youth to inspire them to go above and beyond all endeavors in life. Moreover, by providing them with #SafeSpaces, we encourage them to use their voices, speak their minds, and always fight for what they believe in.

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Seeds of Hope Exhibition Nijmegen, the Netherlands

The transformation in our own heart is the key to transform our society. This principle is underlined by a quotation of Dr Daisaku Ikeda, the president of Soka Gakkai International (SGI) “A great human revolution in just a single individual will help achieve a change in the destiny of a nation and, further, can even enable a change in the destiny of all humankind.”. A similar message is also echoed in the preamble of the Earth Charter, calling for a united effort from all part of the society to.. “..join together to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace.”. Building on this commonground, the Earth Charter Initiative and the SGI have continued their partnerships which, among other things, led tIMGP1426o the joint creation of the exhibition “Seeds of Hope: Visions of sustainability, steps toward change”.

Since its creation in 2010, the exhibition has been displayed numerous times all over the world. It has been exhibited in 34 countries, translated into 13 languages and seen by some one-and-a-half-million people.

Earlier this year, the Seeds of Hope exhibition was displayed in the Netherlands, at Radboud University, Nijmegen. The exhibition took place between 14th and 17th May 2018 as part of the Green Week on the Campus, an annual event of the university that promotes the sustainable practices and environmental ways of living among the students. This year the event also coincided with the European Green Capital 2018 in Nijmegen, which showcases the best practices of sustainability within an urban setting.

Learn, Reflect, and Empower

The main aim of the Seeds of Hope exhibition is to empower its viewers to overcome any feelings of powerlessness in facing challenges within their immediate environments. It highlights the fact that a single individual can initiate positive changes within their society by transforming themselves. With the message “It starts with one” at its core, the exhibition showcased how different individuals become the impetus of change. It draws examples from Dr Wangari Maathai, the Kenyan environmental activist and Nobel laureate, and Hazel Henderson, a futurist and co-founding of Citizens for Clean Air, among other inspiring individuals.WhatsApp Image 2018-05-15 at 23.14.04

The exhibition uses the formula  “learn, reflect and empower” outlined by Dr Ikeda in his  2002 Education for Sustainable Development Proposal, written at the time of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (2). He believes the education for sustainable development should be promoted with the following three goals in mind:

  • To learn and deepen awareness of environmental issues and realities.
  • To reflect on our modes of living, renewing these toward sustainability.
  • To empower people to take concrete action to resolve the challenges we face.

Seeds of Hope @ Radboud University

The Seeds of Hope exhibition at Radboud University was opened by Hubert Bruls, the mayor of Nijmegen. After the opening, Irene Dankelman, a representative of the Earth Charter, gave a short opening speech, focused on the Earth Charter principles as guidelines for our actions. Her talk was followed by Johan van Kreij, a representative of SGI-Nederland (3). Johan highlighted the importance of ‘inner revolution’, which is an impetus requirement for a truly sustainable transformation.

The twenty-four colourful panels of the exhibition were on display inside the Student Church, situated in the stretched out beautiful green university complex. The exhibition and supporting activities were organised by the local members of SGI, who also provided an interactive guide to those visited the exhibition. This effort was made with a recognition that a heart-to-heart dialogue can be the most effective tool to imparting hope and inspire each individual to take positive action. Consequently, apart from dealing with organizational matters, the action committee also studied the Earth Charter, as well as the importance of dialogue as expounded in Buddhism.

On the final day of the exhibition, a series of public lectures took place. The talks emphasised on the importance of dialogue as a crucial mean to share and reflect our personal view, as well as learning from others. First, Alide Roerink (Earth Charter), introduced the Earth Charter initiative in her talk. She presented its ideals, the multilayered aspects of its works, and its latest initiative in MAPTING (4), a mobile app. The MAPTING initiative is a recent partnership project between the Earth Charter and SGI. The initiative aims to facilitate citizens of the world to share and discover the locations of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) related projects in their vicinities, amplifying the idea that each individual’s action can make a difference.

Next, Irene Dankelman (Radboud IMGP1395University) shared her thought on the exhibition and called for a form of education that enables us to think beyond boundaries and to recognise the environmental challenges we have before us. Johan van Kreij (SGI-Netherlands) then discussed the dynamic of our individual self and our environment from the Buddhism perspective and how we can maintain our commitment toward making changes happen. Finally, Ayaka Okumura (SGI-Netherlands) shared her experience of living in Fukushima after the Tsunami and Nuclear disasters in 2011. She shared with the audience how the event shaped her determination in working to contribute toward a better environment.

After the lectures, the participants organised themselves into small groups to discuss what they learnt and shared their renewed determinations together. At the end of this session, everyone shared their personal determination of how to create change—even on a small or even modest scale—by taking the first step and in the process challenge themselves.

“Change occurs when people of vision, undaunted by the world in flames around them, continue to emerge and persevere. They are able to remain undaunted because they choose to nurture the flame of hope burning in their hearts. As Dr. King said during the height of the civil rights movement, “Everything that is done in the world is done by hope.” It is a similar sentiment that inspired the joint creation of the “Seeds of Hope: Visions of sustainability, steps toward change” exhibition by the SGI and Earth Charter International (5).”

1. Link
5. “Seeds of Hope: The Power of One” by Barbara Jenkins, SGI-USA.

Written by: SGI Netherlands

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Diverse Youth Apply for Leadership, Sustainability, and Ethics Course! Registration Open for Sept. Course!

Our third youth course of the year on Leadership, Sustainability, and Ethics in English is in it’s last week! We have been excited for the continued engagement and participation from the rich diversity of participants coming from 23 different countries including: Germany, Cameroon, UK, Thailand, Portugal, Barbados, Burundi, US, Chile, China, Netherlands, Nepal, Japan, Malaysia, Afghanistan and France. Throughout the course participants will expand their knowledge and skills on certain themes such as leadership, ethics, sustainability, Earth Charter principles, Eco literacy, Systems Thinking, and how to successfully design and implement a workshop in their community.

This course is designed to train young people around the world, from the ages of 18-35, on how to become active leaders in their community towards a more just, sustainable, and ethical world. Our goal at the end of the course is to successfully strengthen confidence in leadership for sustainability, enhance participant’s consciousness to contribute to the greater good, inspire like-minded individuals to collaborate across borders and to carry out their work in their communities!

We have many participants in this course who have met Youth Projects Coordinator, Christine Lacayo during the UNESCO workshops on Education for Sustainable Development and others who were encouraged to apply for the course from colleagues who were a part of these workshops. We have two youth from the Netherlands and Cameroon who were sponsored by the organization World of Walas and another youth participant from Burundi who was sponsored by the Florida Earth Charter Initiative.

Alumni of this course have the opportunity to become an Earth Charter Young Leader (ECYL). This programme is a year-long leadership opportunity to serve as a focal point in the Earth Charter Youth Network to mobilize and engage other young people around the Earth Charter vision and principles.

Our next youth course, and last of the year, will be offered in Spanish starting on 24 September with a deadline to apply by 10 September 2018. To apply and for more information visit our website.

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Celebration Earth Charter Day and book launch, The Netherlands

36719624_1818735638216898_5040695488282624000_nOn a warm summer day some 65 people from all parts of the Netherlands gathered in Doorn at Landgoed Zonheuvel. Since the Earth Charter+15 event we have been celebrating Earth Charter Day here. Participants were friends of the Earth Charter – including members of the Worldconnectors network – and special guest, among them family members of late Earth Charter Commissioner Ruud Lubbers and Shamaan and Elder Angangaaq from Greenland.

This Earth Charter anniversary was closely tied to the commitment and long standing contribution of Ruud Lubbers to the Earth Charter Initiative. At the gathering we remembered him in a few ways, to begin with by way of a dialogue on the meaning of harmonious leadership. A kind of leadership Ruud Lubbers showed to be possible. Harmonious Leadership includes the holistic vision of the Earth Charter, to summarize with the first 4 principles: 1. Respect Earth and life in all its diversity. 2. Care for the community of life with understanding, compassion and love. 3. Build democratic societies that are just, participatory, sustainable and peaceful. 4. Secure Earth’s bounty and beauty for present and future generations.

Lubbers-book-2In the gathering Elders and upcoming young leaders engaged in an intergenerational dialogue on the question: what it means to step up and show leadership in the face of the urgent matters of today? And what it means to embrace a sustainable lifestyle (the global Earth Charter theme for this year), inspired by the Earth Charter. The dialogue was introduced with reflections by Herman Wijffels (Worldconnector and emeritus professor Sustainability and Societal Change) and Angangaaq.

We payed tribute to Ruud Lubbers with a ceremony at the maple tree he helped planting at the occasion of 15 years Earth Charter, 3 years ago. And with the presentation of a special book with personal memories of 34 friends of the Earth Charter of Ruud Lubbers. Among them a few contributions in English by Mirian Vilela, Steven Rockefeller, Herman Mulder and Ama van Dantzig and Lynn Zebeda. The book starts with an overview of the history of the Earth Charter until today. It continues with a visionary article written by Ruud Lubbers himself in 2002 on the relevance of the Earth Charter as inspiration for global governance. The book includes the full text of the Earth Charter document (in Dutch) and the 17 SDGs, guided by a fragment from a blog by Ruud Lubbers in which he stated that The Earth Charter is the ethical foundation for the implementation of the SDGs.

Paul Lubbers, Ruud Lubbers’ oldest son, received the first copy of the book. He responded in a short speech in which he expressed the energy he witnessed among friends of the Earth Charter to continue the ideals of his father and work towards  better future. He also said that The Earth Charter deserves to become much more known to inspire and guide many more people worldwide.

See to the right an image of the table of contents of the remembrance book Ruud Photo Table of Content Book RLLubbers, which is mainly written in Dutch. The book can be ordered by sending a mail Please mention ‘Book Ruud Lubbers’ in the subject of your message and send us your postal address. You will receive our request to pay € 10,- plus the postal costs.

The celebration of Earth Charter Day in the Netherlands was organised by Earth Charter Friends Netherland, in partnership with SBI Landgoed Zonheuvel, Inner Sense and Worldconnectors.

This short film, made by Ayla van Kessel, provides an impression of the special way Earth Charter Day was celebrated in The Netherlands. It all happened outdoors surrounded with trees and birds at Landgoed Zonheuvel in Doorn. The celebration included an intergenerational dialogue on harmonious leadership, a ceremony at the tree which was planted at the occasion of the Earth Charter +15 event, an interactive dinner and the presentation of a special book in memory of late Earth Charter Commissioner Ruud Lubbers. 


Written by: Alide Roerink

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Earth Charter International partners with SERES

SERES is a non-profit organization that works with a diversity of young people with limited access to opportunities, at the forefront of climate change in Central America, empowering them to be agents of change, social entrepreneurs and leaders in sustainability capable of building more prosperous, resilient communities. Together with SERES founders, partners and young leaders, in recent years, they have trained more than 3,000 young leaders and 90 youth trainers, and have supported hundreds of community action plans run by young people using the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

As partners, SERES will sponsor at least 4 young people to partake in the Earth Charter: Leadership, Sustainability, and Ethics youth course. They will also introduce and use the app, Mapting, at their Annual Meeting on Sustainability. On the other hand, the Earth Charter will invite these 4 SERES youth to be a part of the Earth Charter Young Leaders programme and provide SERES with Earth Charter resources and support.

In 2015, SERES was recognized internationally after receiving the UNESCO-Japan Prize for Education for Sustainable Development. It is one of the leading organizations that addresses issues of opportunity, education and sustainable development among at-risk and vulnerable communities in Central America, cultivating and catalyzing young leaders to take action at the local, regional, national and international levels. The Earth Charter International Secretariat implements the programs and activities of the Earth Charter Initiative, with the mission of establishing a solid ethical foundation for the emerging global society and to help build a sustainable world based on respect for nature, universal human rights, social justice and a culture of peace. In partnership, they will both benefit from the participation of active youth and the creation of more sustainable communities.The Earth Charter is very excited about this partnership and is really looking forward to future collaboration.

Written by ECI Intern: Ilka Vanessa Walker-Vera



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Nicole Jirón Beirute’s Earth Charter Youth Story

Nicole Jirón Beirute became involved with the Earth Charter Initiative at age 17 when she promoted a consultation process in the university student movement in the University of Costa Rica (UCR).  Since then she has participated in promoting the Earth Charter in Costa Rica. In 2001 she worked as the International Youth Coordinator for the Earth Charter International. In the 90s, she also participated in initial activities for the organization of the Earth Charter Initiative, when she met Felícita Echeverria.

She is currently a professor at the UCR in the Faculty of General Studies, and is also a mediator certified by the Ministry of Justice of Costa Rica. Nicole has extensive experience in training processes in youth political participation after having coordinated for three years Agents of Change, a program of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation for the development of youth democratic participation in Costa Rica. She is part of the Executive Management Team of the Foundation for Peace and Democracy, one of the most recognized and oriented non-governmental organizations in Latin America, which works with programs financed by international cooperation related to social conflicts, democracy, environment and migration processes.

In the following videos, Nicole explains how she came to know the Earth Charter, how it has influenced her, and how she still uses the Earth Charter today.


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