Youth News Archives - Earth Charter

ECI in Ottawa for the UNESCO Week on Peace and Sustainable Development

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© Canadian Commission for UNESCO (CCUNESCO)

On 6 to 10 March, 2017, two Earth Charter International Secretariat staff attended the UNESCO Week on Peace and Sustainable Development in Ottawa, Canada. The weeklong event brought together over 400 people, including 50 youth delegates, from two transformational movements in education: Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and Global Citizenship Education (GCED). These two spheres have the shared purpose of preparing people to create more peaceful, just and sustainable societies.

The event opened with acknowledgement to the indigenous territory where the event was held, and with an opening ceremony and remarks from Maliseet Elder Mac Saulis. Speeches, panel discussions, presentations, workshops, intergenerational dialogues, a world café, and music were to follow throughout the five days. Participants from government, NGOs, businesses, and educational institutions presented their various projects, initiatives, and goals, and dialogued around the future direction and challenges for ESD and GCED as well as possibilities for collaboration.

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© Canadian Commission for UNESCO (CCUNESCO)

Woven throughout the various presentations and activities during the week, three themes continued to arise: engaging young people, technological innovations, and capacity building for teachers. On the theme of engaging young people, UNESCO built this into the very structure of the event, selecting and brining 50 youth delegates to Ottawa for the week. These delegates, specially selected from thousands of applicants, came representing different organizations and networks related to ESD and GCED.

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© UNESCO/Julie Saito

One the Action Areas of GAP is on mobilizing and engaging youth in ESD. Partner Network 4, a network of organizations recognized by UNESCO for their contribution in this area, has met annually at these GAP meetings to scale up, build synergies, and implement a flagship project related to mobilizing youth in ESD. Earth Charter International (ECI) holds a co-chair for GAP Partner Network 4, and recently designed the ESD Leadership training script as part of the Flagship project.

During the week, key partners in Partner Network 4 met to offer feedback on the new training script, to debrief on their experiences running pilot workshops, and to plan the following phases of the Flagship—an ESD Young Leaders Network for training alumni and an ESD Young Leaders Conference in 2018. Meanwhile, all key partners across all five Partner Networks reviewed their collective progress toward their GAP commitments and flagship projects.

Using technology and social media to engage young people was another recurring theme. One way that ECI is rising to this challenge is through one of their GAP Commitments, a 10-week online training for young leaders in ¨Leadership, Sustainability and Ethics¨ which includes weekly tasks online and offline. In addition, ECI has developed and launched a free photo-sharing app, MAPTING, in collaboration with Soka Gakkai International, for sharing positive actions contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The photos and videos are linked to the related SDGs and Earth Charter principles and pinned to a shared world map. Other organizations are finding new ways of using social media, digital story telling, virtual reality, and online platforms to expand, enhance, and develop new ways of doing ESD.

student-teacher-coordinator-online-esd-courseIn addition to youth participation and new technologies, many participants were focused on training teachers for ESD and GCED. In this area, ECI was able to share their online certificate programmes and intensive in-person courses for educators on Transformative Learning while learning about the platforms, methods, content, and structures that other organizations are using or considering.

Beyond participating in the planned events during the event, ECI staff were delighted to reunite with old Earth Charter friends, meet students and professors from online courses in person, and meet new potential partners and collaborators. They were also keen to ground ethics and values as the foundation of the dialogue on education for a more just, sustainable, and peaceful world.

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Earth Charter Youth Group to Advisor to the Ministry of Environment: Esther Kelechi Agbarakwe of Nigeria

esther-kelechi-agbarakweMy name is Esther Abgarakwe. I´m from Nigeria. My friends call me ¨Esther Climate¨—it´s a long story! I started an Earth Charter Youth Group in 2006 in Calabar. At that time, the Earth Charter was active in Nigeria but there was not much youth participation. It really pushed me to lobby and advocate for youth participation on environmental issues.

At that time, I participated in an Earth Charter E-Glo (Earth Charter Global Learning Opportunity) training programme that taught me a lot about social media. My first contact with blogging was through that programme and my blog won me a scholarship to go to a Conference in Scotland. That was my first travel abroad experience, and from that conference I met amazing people like the Elders. I asked one of them an interesting question in that forum and that sort of got me remembered around the world.

Since then, I have been working with the Elders for many years, now with a project call the Elders + Youngers project. It has been the biggest project of my life because I´ve gotten to work with four amazing people: Mary Robinson, Gro Harlem Brundtland, Desmond Tutu, and Fernando Cardoso.

esther-kelechi-agbarakwe-climate-actionFrom the blogging I learned from E-Glo, I´ve continued blogging a lot. Blogging has given me the opportunity to talk about so many things I like. One of the micro-blogs I use a lot is Facebook. On Facebook, I changed my time to ¨Esther Climate¨ because I wanted to interrupt conversations about politics among young people and intercept that with environmental issues and climate change—so I changed my name to ¨Esther Climate.¨

And the name stuck. When people see it, they pause and think, ¨Why Esther Climate?¨ And that´s an opportunity to change someone´s mindset, to raise awareness or improve knowledge in someone around environmental issues. They would ask the question about the name, and I would reply ¨Yes—this is what it means…¨ and then talk to them about climate change.

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.

esther-kelechi-agbarakwe-workingNow I work as an Advisor to the Minister of the Environment. This is my career now; I think I´ll do environmental work for the rest of my life. And the [Earth Charter] Principle is still there.

When I was invited to join the Minister of the Environment as an Advisor, it was a dream come true. I accepted it of course! [Deputy Secretary General-Designate Amina J Mohammed] is an amazing person and [this job] has been the best thing of my life. I can see hands on the change I wanted to see happen. I’m the only young advisor—but it´s [youth] participation. We are moving from rhetoric to action. Young people have a lot of offer—they have experience, they have a vision, they are creative, and can do a lot!

Right now, I do a lot with technology which plays a big role in my work in terms of mobilizing young people—not only mobilizing them, but also empowering them, connecting them to resources, and giving them an opportunity to be informed on issues that affect them. In the next 40 years, they may have to lead.

I do all the creative stuff in the Ministry—communications, stake holders engagement, traveling around to all these Conferences to help to lobby because I understand the dynamics.

esther-kelechi-agbarakwe-radio-interviewIt gives me renewed hope that young people are now at the table, not just on the menu. The government recognizes their importance now. I remember when we used to scream and shout ¨I want to be involved! I want to be involved!¨ Now we are involved. That´s the biggest thing that´s happening for us.

I 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.


This interview of Esther Kelechi Agbarakwe was conducted in November 2016 by Earth Charter International Youth Projects Coordinator, Sarah Dobson, at COP22 in Marrakech, Morocco. The content has been edited for clarity and flow.

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UNESCO ESD Leadership Training, designed by Earth Charter International, is piloted around the world

During February of 2017, over one hundred young sustainability leaders gathered in Dublin, Beirut, Nairobi, and New Delhi to train in Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) Leadership using a UNESCO curriculum developed by Earth Charter International (ECI).

 

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This series of ESD Leadership trainings in various regions around the world constitutes the pilot phase of the Flagship Project for Partner Network 4 of UNESCO´s Global Action Programme (GAP) on Education for Sustainable Development.  GAP is the follow up to the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014) which aims to generate and scale-up concrete actions in ESD. Within GAP, there are five Priority Action Areas identified. ECI holds a co-chair position in Partner Network 4, a network of organizations recognized for their work on mobilizing and engaging youth in ESD.

As the first phase of the Flagship Project for GAP Partner Network 4, UNESCO contracted ECI to develop the training script for a young leaders training on ¨ESD Leadership¨ in collaboration with the other key network partners. The second phase, carried out in February 2017, was the implementation of regional pilot workshops, where key partners experimented with the training script and trained the first round of ESD Leaders.

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The Coordinator of Youth Projects at ECI, Sarah Dobson, joined by other GAP key partners from Partner Network 4, attended the pilot workshop in Dublin, Ireland hosted by key partner ECO UNESCO. Meanwhile, the ESD Leadership training was also conducted in Nairobi, New Delhi, and Beirut with young sustainability leaders from each region and joined by other GAP key partners. The trainings used interactive exercises and multimedia methods to engage participants on themes of ESD, systems thinking, leadership, visioning, and facilitation. Participants will use elements from this training to design and conduct ESD related workshops in their own communities by the end of March 2017.

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For the next phase of the Flagship, ECI will collect feedback and evaluations from participants and facilitators of the pilot workshops to improve and finalize the training script. UNESCO will then translate and release a final version for public use after March 2017.

The ESD Leadership Training curriculum serves as a guide for organizations who work with or seek to work with young people to incorporate aspects of ESD Leadership into their present activities and trainings. It is meant to serve as a flexible resource which can be adapted to fit the local context and serve local needs.

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Desired outcomes for the Flagship project include the empowerment of youth leaders to inspire and mobilize others to take action towards building more sustainable, just, and resilient communities and to build a youth-led ESD Leaders Network for exchange and collaboration.

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COP22 and the ¨Inner Dimensions of Climate Change¨ retreat in Marrakesh

From 5 to 13 November, 2016, the Earth Charter International Youth Projects´ Coordinator Sarah Dobson visited the beautiful city of Marrakech, Morocco with a two-part mission: to connect with young leaders and civil society organizations from around the world at COP22, and to participate in the ¨Inner Dimensions of Climate Change¨ programme for young ecologists.

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COP22, the annual United Nations Climate Change Conference, convened government officials from around the world to create international policies and strategies to combat climate change along with thousands from civil society who joined to influence and report on the negotiations and build networks and partnerships. Sarah met with young leaders from Morocco and every region of the world who are working, studying, innovating, and living with the urgent and earnest intention to transform our lifestyles and current systems to align with the protection and preservation of our planet. She met with people working in different youth networks with specializations in education, social entrepreneurship, science and research, and activism and explored ways that the Earth Charter can serve them whether as an ethical guide, a shared vision, or through our online trainings in ¨ Leadership, Sustainability, and Ethics. ¨

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After a few days at the Conference, Sarah joined the first ¨The Inner Dimensions of Climate Change¨ retreat, unique programme series organized to foster dialogue and discovery. Earth Charter International served as a co-partner to the event which was organized by the Global Peace Initiative of Women (GPIW) and sponsored by the Dharma Drum Mountain Buddhist Association (DDMBA).

The 4-day programme brought together 20 young ecologists from 14 African nations: Egypt, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Nambia, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. They were joined by ecology experts and spiritual leaders of various traditions and backgrounds.

The first days were spent discussing problems and solutions from the African perspective in the areas of biodiversity, water, and agriculture before the conversation turned inward considering the attitude and paradigm which allow these problems to persist and have prevented a large scale shift toward sustainability.

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Woven throughout the discussions, the mentors shared their stories and wisdom. Ven. Bhante Duddharakita from Uganda spoke of the need to reduce not only carbon emissions, but greed emissions. Sraddhalu Ranade from India spoke of the androcentric and reductionist mindsets which have led us to the point of crisis. Tiokasin Ghosthorse from the Lakota Nation in North America spoke of how our language separates us from Mother Earth, pretending to be superior and separate to Mother Earth and inventing notions such as domination and ownership. We reflected on a paradigm shift to relationship with all life and contemplated how to retain and relearn knowledge cultivated and held by indigenous peoples.

The youth delegates and spiritual mentors brought their wisdom to the COP22, presenting ¨the Inner Dimensions of Climate Change¨ as a side event which drew great attention and curiosity as it offered a deep, honest conversation about climate and our own intimate relationship with one another and Earth. The final day together was spent in a small Berber village nestled in the Atlas Mountains where the group shared delicious Moroccan tea and food and a final dialogue circle of reflection and gratitude.

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This program was the first in a series of regional ¨Inner Dimensions of Climate Change¨ retreats which will gather young ecologists and spiritual mentors to examine the deeper causes and solutions to climate change which begin with our mindset and relationship to the Earth. All youth delegates and mentors from each regional meeting are then expected to then gather together in 2018 to continue building bridges and relationships and strengthen the movement toward a more life sustaining paradigm and way of living.

 

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Mapting: New photo-sharing app to popularize Sustainable Development Goals

Discovering the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Earth Charter Principles while spreading a positive message about the future of our planet through picture and video sharing —this is the idea behind Mapting, a new mobile app developed by Earth Charter International in collaboration with Soka Gakkai International (SGI).

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Mapting is a free tool that invites users to look for everyday actions that people take which help to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Then it´s as simple as snapping a photo or video and sharing it on a world map.

mapting-home-screenBeyond a photo and video sharing app created to map positive actions worldwide, Mapting is also a learning tool. It was designed in such a way that each step, from the home page to the photo sharing process, offers an opportunity for its users to learn more about the 17 Goals and the principles of the Earth Charter. The app combines these two complementary frameworks, the SDGs and the Earth Charter, to build connections between the targets, or where we need to go (SDGs), and the fundamental shared values that we need to get there (the Earth Charter).

Mapting was officially launched at an event called “Youth boosting the promotion and implementation of the SDGs” held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on 10 November 2016. Mapting received enthusiastic support from participants and NGOs. The app quickly had users from Mexico, Japan, Brazil, Switzerland and the US with more people joining every day.

Mapting was created based on the belief that individuals, specifically young individuals, have power to initiate change. This app is a simple, entertaining way to discover and engage around the Global Goals and the Earth Charter with the potential to popularize and expand the movement for sustainable development.

Download Mapting now for free at www.mapting.org to join people around the world who Snap & Map everyday acts that contribute to the SDGs.


Authors: Dino De Francesco, Digital Communications Specialist and Sarah Dobson, Youth Projects Coordinator at Earth Charter International

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Carbon6: From space to place – bringing the Earth Charter into practice

Nadine Huids is a member of the Earth Charter Young Leaders Programme, a year-long leadership programme where members serve as focal points of the Earth Charter Youth Network.  Nadine studied Built Environment and Architecture with a focus in cities and cultural heritage and works in the Netherlands as a Program Manager with the Walas team to develop vital and lively places for people to live. Below, find her reflection on how the project and place where she works, Carbon6, embodies Earth Charter principles.


Let me take you with me to work. Deep in the south of Holland, in the town of Heerlen, I enter the area of Carbon6. The early morning sun awakens and starts to lighten up the big vibrant complex. People walking, talking, rushing into their morning rituals as they start their day. The parking attendant guides all visitors to a parking spot. Passing by, the smiley gardener waves good morning while taking care of the fresh growing vegetables in the inner garden. Together with the greenery team they are cleaning the outdoor space. Inside, I am welcomed by the people at the service desk. They offer me my daily mail. I walk through the corridors. The creative entrepreneurs are starting up their workshops, business meetings are getting started, the smell of fresh coffee comes towards me. I’m ready to start my day. The technical service is getting ready to upgrade my office, housekeeping swarms through the building, the Urban Farmer feeds the trout on the other side building, the Popschool is setting up their drums to give music lessons. For some, this might sound like an extraordinary day. For me, it is a pleasure to walk through this building every day to work.

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City Farming. Photo Ton Toemen

What is the story behind this ordinary day? Heerlen had a flourishing coal mining industry until the sixties. After closing the monocultural industry, Heerlen faced challenges with decades of economic decline. The National Statistics Office came instead in 1965, to bring some employment to the region and built a 500,000 sq. ft complex. Eventually, after 44 years, when one of the largest employers decided to move to a new centre, the complex became vacant. The city had two options; demolish the old building or find a new meaning for the complex. Luckily it decided the second option.

Carbon6, the new name of the building, has been making big changes in Heerlen since 2012. It facilitates a great opportunity for the region, developing an ambitious vision to revitalize the vacant building and its site. The complex is now home to the largest creative cluster in Holland, including the region’s largest pop music school and artists in painting, glassworks and digital media. Arts and culture, start-up companies and social enterprises now have a place in the building. The Dutch National Mining Museum, also located at Carbon6, honours the proud history of the region. This museum is located in an 1897 mineshaft building, and is classified as one of UNESCO’s top-100 monuments.

The community has developed many successful initiatives. A total of 1200 people are currently employed and bring new dynamics to the area. But what does this story have to do with the Earth Charter? The vision of Carbon6 is guided by the Earth Charter, with two technical core elements as driver for the concept: Economy and ecology. Innovations for circular economy, green energy and urban farming are prototyped and implemented in the buildings to improve the sustainability of the complex and to incubate new businesses. By improving the building bit by bit, it is on its way to being carbon neutral. The project fosters a vital society and sustainable practices, and the financial situation has completely turned around.

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By using the Earth Charter as an inspiration and a guideline, we can bring its principals into practice and offer a practical example to inspire others. Interested in more details? Have a look at walasconcepts.com and earthcharter.org.


Gerben van Straaten Founder and CEO of World of Walas is the visionary behind the concept EcoGrowth – Carbon6. Carbon6 in Heerlen is one initial project. Since 2012, Gerben leads international platforms for change in North America, Europe, China and Latin America.

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The Inner Dimensions of Climate Change: Young Ecologists Turn Inward

From 18 to 23 January 2017, thirty young ecologists from the Americas and Caribbean working in fields related to environmental education, conservation and climate activism came to Costa Rica for a retreat on the ¨Inner Dimensions of Climate Change.¨ Earth Charter International (ECI) collaborated with The Global Peace Initiative of Women (GPIW) and the Dharma Drum Mountain Buddhist Association (DDMBA) to bring together young people with mentors from different spiritual traditions to uncover the deeper root causes of the climate crisis to inform our individual, organization, and systemic work in creating solutions.

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Participants and mentors spent their first day at the Earth Charter Center for Education for Sustainable Development where the ECI Youth Project´s Coordinator led them in an interactive workshop to experience the Earth Charter. Participants explored the Earth Charter´s four interrelated pillars: (1) Respect and Care for the Community of Life, (2) Ecological Integrity, (3) Social and Economic Justice, (4) Democracy, Nonviolence, and Peace, and then learned the incredible story of its creation which stands as the most participatory process of any document in history.

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The group then traveled to Puerta a la Vida, a unique eco-lodge in Puntarenas Costa Rica, where the group spent several days in ceremony, dialogue, and exploration. Dialogue sessions were facilitated by mentors who gave space to youth leaders to open discussions on topics related to their work. Topics included the impact of Climate Change on the Americas and Caribbean, loss of indigenous knowledge, and grassroots efforts to create change.

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Mentors Venerable Chang Ji, Jana Long, Dena Merriam, Mirabai Starr, and Hanne Marstrand Strong shared wisdom from their various traditions and experiences. Mentors Sraddhalu Ranade from India and Tiokasin Ghosthorse from the Lakota Nation in North America brought in systemic and biocentric perspectives to deconstruct colonial, oppressive, and anthropocentric paradigms and language to shift, expand, and deepen the conversations.  In one example, Tiokasin shared that he considers the famous statement ¨I think, therefore I am¨ is to be lost. He and his tribe instead live by ¨I thank, therefore I am—We thank, therefore we are.¨ He begins each day giving thanks to water, a word which in his native language of Lakota roughly translates to ¨the life energy that flows between us.¨

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The retreat closed with a ceremony of gratitude where each person chose to take with them a small, symbolic object that another had brought, bonding the participants to one another and the experience. This gathering was the second in the series of regional retreats; The first retreat was held in Marrakesh, Morocco in November of 2016 with African youth during the COP22. GPIW, DDMBA, and ECI will continue organizing spaces to build intergenerational and intercultural networks of grounded, conscious sustainability leaders with plans to host the next gatherings in Europe and the Middle East.

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Successful conclusion of the 10-week youth training in “Leadership, Sustainability and Ethics”

After ten weeks of reading, reflecting, discussing, evaluating, and experimenting, 21 young people from Latin America and Spain completed the Earth Charter International training in “Leadership, Sustainability and Ethics”. This online programme was designed for motivated, talented young people to build their skills and knowledge to effectively lead the transition to more sustainable, just, and peaceful societies.

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Over the ten weeks, participants grappled with the concepts and practical implications of

  • Leadership
  • Ethics
  • Sustainability
  • The Earth Charter
  • Eco-literacy
  • Systemic thinking
  • Facilitation

At the end of the training, participants worked together in small groups to design a workshop related to these central themes, and then went offline to organize and facilitate it in their own communities. For many, this was the most rewarding part of the programme since they could directly implement what they had learned and be agents of change in their communities.

Participant Dennis Perez from Costa Rica said: “[The workshop] was rewarding and let me see that every day we learn more; moreover, an ethical framework would serve as a tool for other institutions which can use the Earth Charter as a philosophy.

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Upon successful completion of the programme, participants received a certificate of recognition from CTI. They were also invited to participate in the Earth Charter Young Leaders (ECYL) Programme, an opportunity to serve as active focal points within the Youth Network for one year. Young Leaders help organize and facilitate online seminars, workshops and courses and create and publish news and stories of the Youth Network. For example, Julián Arias Varela, alumni of the training programme and member of the ECYL, co-facilitated this training with the ECI Youth Projects Coordinator.

In reflecting on her experience in the programme, participant Paola Gonzalez shared “I’m very motivated; I loved the experience and would repeat it a thousand times. ¨

Earth Charter International aims to train at least 300 young leaders over the next three years. This training is part of ECI´s commitment to the UNESCO´s Global Programme of Action on Education for Sustainable Development, particularly in the area of empowerment and mobilization of young people. It was also established in direct recognition of Principles 12c and 14a of the Earth Charter to:

Honor and support the young people of our communities, enabling them to fulfill their essential role in creating sustainable societies” and “Provide all, especially children and youth, with educational opportunities that empower them to actively development contribute sustainable.”

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For information on the next training beginning in January 2017, please visit: http://earthcharter.org/events/leadership-sustainability-ethics.

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Summerlabb: Bringing together art, music and sustainable cities in the Netherlands

earth-charter-stand-summerlabbWhat better place to share values and stories than at a festival? During the Summer of 2016, the Earth Charter Cities team partnered with Summerlabb, a traveling festival bringing together art, music, research institutes, polytechnic universities and sustainability companies. The festival explored our use of energy, water, light, architecture and food, and showcased inspiring innovations and solutions for communities driven to become more sustainable. Hundreds of children, adults, business professionals and music lovers from all over Holland gathered together to celebrate and learn. Surrounded by music, culture and art, participants explored sustainable innovations and their stories in Rotterdam, Groningen and several other cities in the Netherlands.

Earth Charter Cities is a collaborative movement that brings together passionate amateurs, experts, and organizations from across the world to inspire improvements in principle areas of the Earth Charter and the Earth Charter Cities Manifesto. This manifesto is a call to action developed by Gerben van Straaten of World of Walas to help communities realize the Earth Charter vision. After an almost two-year drafting process with key stakeholders of the Earth Charter, the Earth Charter Cities Manifesto was launched in The Hague in 2010.

waste-watchers-art-barrelGuided by the Earth Charter, Earth Charter Cities shared with festival goers on the importance of bringing ethics back into our lives and understanding the value and importance of sustainability. They encouraged visitors to tell their stories of connection to nature and our Earth, and were inspired by the story of the West Coast First Nations peoples who impart indigenous teachings for a more sustainable way of life in Canada. Artist James Jetlag translated the story of Earth Charter Cities into a beautiful work of art, one oil drum to represent each chapter of the Earth Charter/Earth Charter Cities Manifesto.

At Summerlabb, Earth Charter Cities raised awareness of the Earth Charter and promoted the understanding of its inclusive ethical vision through starting conversations about ethics with curious visitors and passersby. They invited others to heed the call to action to transition to sustainable ways of living on the planet and to envision future cities taking care of mother Earth and the community of life. They asked, beyond technical innovations, what are economic and social-cultural aspects of this transition? They shared the Earth Charter as a tool, an ethical guideline, for our daily and professional lives.

For more information on Gerben van Straaten and the story of the Earth Charter Cities Manifesto, please go to www.earthchartercities.org. For more information on Summerlabb, visit http://summerlabb.nl/.

 


one-earth-communityAuthor: Nadine Huids, Earth Charter Young Leader

Nadine studied Built Environment and Architecture with a focus in cities and cultural heritage. During her studies she learned a lot about technical innovations and sustainability to redevelop industrial buildings. Taught and inspired by Gerben van Straaten, Walas Concepts CEO, she learned how to create truly healthy, inclusive, and sustainable communities. She believes in the need to enhance economic, social, and cultural values within urban settings. Driven by the Earth Charter and the Earth Charter Cities Manifesto, Nadine works in the Netherlands as a Program Manager with the Walas team to develop vital and lively places for people to live.

Editor: Josephine Schrott, Earth Charter Young Leader

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Faith leaders, the Earth Charter and sustainable leadership

kelly-ngetiThis article was written by Kelly Ngeti, a member of the Earth Charter Young Leaders Programme. Kelly Ngeti, from Mombasa, Kenya, is passionate about working with and for the community, particularly in the areas of the environment, peace and stability. He is a core member, volunteer, and the Regional Coordinator at Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in Africa, a pan African NGO that brings catholic youth to care for and protect the environment. Kelly is also an organizer with the Miritini Peace Initiative which was established amid the 2007-2008 post-election violence in order to promote peace and sustainable leadership. He is a former Mombasa diocesan youth chairperson, and an actor and writer with Big Dreams Productions. Kelly has diplomas in Sales and Marketing, Journalism, and Community Development and is pursuing a degree in Development Studies.

Editor: Josephine Schrott, Earth Charter Young Leader


On August 9th – 12th 2016, I was part of the team that was selected to travel to Same, Tanzania for a forum with faith leaders dubbed FLEAT, meaning Faith Leaders Environment Advocacy Training. The program is run by SAFCEI, the South African Faith Communities Environment Institute, and organized by Hope for Tanzania, an NGO that advocates for climate justice in Tanzania. Hope for Tanzania Director Rev. Elisa Murutu was one of the FLEAT participants.

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A series of forums has been scheduled throughout this year under the FLEAT program, with the agenda of engaging with faith leaders through advocacy and through their institutions to help promote eco-justice and sustainable development.

FLEAT is of the notion that even with the efforts made by lay people in advocating for climate justice and protection and conservation of our environment for the common good, the pace of impact is slow. Faith leaders can speed up the flow of information since many people believe instantly in what their spiritual leaders say. The objective is to advocate for faith leaders to take up a more leading role in advancing the environmental sustainability agenda forward.

I was able to present to this audience of faith leaders from different religious backgrounds and of different positions in their respective institutions. In the forum, there were a total of 70 participants with representatives from the Presbyterian Church of East Africa; pastors, ministers and the bishop of the Lutheran Church and the Pentecostal Church; priests and bishops of the Same, Tanzania diocese of the Catholic Church; representatives from the Islam religion and lay people.

The Earth Charter and Sustainable leadership were my two topics of engagement. With regards to the Earth Charter, I shared the history and its objectives then perused through the principles. It was amazing and encouraging how well the participants connected with the principles of the Earth Charter, each acknowledging their importance in protecting our environment and our earth. For further reading and endorsements, I left a link of the Earth Charter and urged participants to read it through, endorse it and then ask others in their respective institutions to do the same. I further urged them to make the Earth Charter their tool and point of reference in advocating for sustainable development, eco-justice and lobbying.

My second session focused on sustainable leadership. I specifically chose this topic as a point of reference to showcase how good leadership impacts action. I knew it would be exciting and very interesting to hear from the faith leaders their perspectives on good leadership, and what they have been practicing. Because they are leaders themselves with huge number of followers from their institutions, I had a feeling it was going to be an interactive session.

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I shared on the traditional versus modern models of leadership which I had learnt about in the “Leadership, Ethics and Sustainability” course I took with the Earth Charter. True to my instincts, the session turned out to be very interesting and provoked leaders to discuss more on the leadership of Tanzania and their own leadership ways. It was so encouraging how the modern model of leadership was picked up as a realistic resolution to leadership crises in all institutions. It ended with the majority of participants asking for the presentation so that they can disseminate it to their respective members.

My organization, the Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in Africa (www.cynesa.org), continues to host and lead advocacy meetings and will carry this initiative forward in Kenya and the larger region.

 

 

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