In March 2006, at Imperial College London, Earth Charter International convened an invitational seminar with about seventy-five UK opinion leaders in sustainable development called, “The Value of Values: Global Ethics and the Future of Sustainable Development”. The seminar’s purpose was to introduce the Charter to this group, and to set the stage for the expansion of Earth Charter activity in the United Kingdom.
Participants ranged from sustainability directors of companies to heads of research institutions, from representatives of leading NGOs to local government officials, from well-known financiers to small business entrepreneurs. A strong youth contingent was also invited, reflecting the Earth Charter Initiative’s prioritization on the substantive engagement of youth in sustainable development work. ECI has a complete multi-media package documenting this ground-breaking seminar, which featured internationally renowned speakers as John Elkington, Alexander Likhotal, Ruud Lubbers, Herman Mulder, Jane Nelson, and Princess Basma Bint Talal.
In Great Britain, the Earth Charter movement continued to make waves in Bournemouth at the Avonbourne and Harewood Colleges. Avonbourne considers itself an “Earth Charter” school, as its Primary School vision and values are based on the Earth Charter. Other Earth Charter projects that were carried out through Avonbourne in 2014 include an award-winning effort to recycle cooking oil for a school mini-bus and a successful initiative to have the school certified as a Fairtrade school. The schools also continue to use the Pictures of Success tool.
In February 2007, Nobel Peace Prize winner, and Earth Charter Commissioner, Wangari Maathai, was the guest of honor at the special seminar on the “The Earth Charter, Past and Future” at Exeter College, one of the oldest colleges at Oxford University. The seminar brought together a small number of international Earth Charter leaders with members of the newly- formed Earth Charter UK Trust. During that time the Earth Charter UK was established.
Together this group took a fresh look at the Earth Charter’s past and future — partly with an international focus, and partly with an eye to the Earth Charter’s future in the United Kingdom.
In September 2008, a diverse group of representatives of faith-based organizations in the UK came together to explore the Earth Charter. Among the key speakers were Dr. Doug Bourn, chair of the Earth Charter Council of Trustees in the UK, Rabbi Jeffrey Newman, Founder of Earth Charter UK, and Michael Slaby.
Since the 2007 formation of the Earth Charter UK, participants have worked to introduce the EC nationally, regionally, and locally within the sectors of Education, Youth, Faith Communities, Business, and Government, including NGO’s.
Possibly the most important development in the UK with regard to the EC has been the endorsement by Bournemouth Borough Council and this has been followed by the endorsement also of the Bournemouth 2026 Partnership, which involves 200 local voluntary and statutory groups. During 2009, the Earth Charter UK looks forward to continuing work with the Charter in schools in the area, and the involvement of local business. All this came about through the work of a local Inter-faith group www.eco-faith.org which saw the environment and climate change as the greatest issue facing Earth and the Earth Charter as a way of thinking about such issues which could unite many people.
In this way, the process of introducing the Earth Charter in the UK shows how true is the phrase that “the individual can make a difference.” This is also true of individual organisations. Once the inspiration of the Charter, combined with its practical, specific detailed requirements, has
communicated with a person or group then change and development can happen very quickly. You can find more information on the South West of England, Faith and Interfaith, Education and Business if you go here. Please see the new case of the Avonbourn School in Dorset.