Earth Charter inspires hope and action at Fourth Congress of the Valencian School Federation

The Fourth Congress of the Escola Valenciana Federation took place in Valencia from December 5-8, 2006, on the theme of “The Valencian School and a Sustainable Society.” Participants sought to share experiences and pedagogical strategies to educate and galvanize the school community, as well as the society in general, in favor of a sustainable and peaceful Valencian Country and world. The final resolutions adopted by the Congress reaffirmed “the commitment for the reflection-action didactic principles — education in favor of the defense and respect towards the environment, coexistence, interculturality, solidarity and peace.”


The Escola Valenciana Federation, one of the most active civil society organizations of the Valencian Country, holds the Congress every four years. Participants include the Federation’s network of more than 100 educational centers, whose membership includes educators’ associations as well as other citizens committed to the Federation’s goals: affirmation of the importance of the Valencian language and historic ties of the Valencian people to their territory.


Following the principle of “think globally, act locally,” the Earth Charter provided a framework of political and educational action fundamental to the development of the Federation’s 2006 Congress, as well as the resolutions that came out of the meeting.


Each spring, the Federation, through its member associations, organizes 16 to 18 local school gatherings throughout the region in which more that 200,000 people participate. These festivities include workshops, games and more in collaboration with parents, who also accompany their sons and daughters to the Congress. The Congress itself is held in one of the towns of the region; municipalities are usually actively involved.


In 2006, 17 meetings were held prior to the Congress centering on efforts in the defense of the environment and the dissemination of the Earth Charter. The Federation printed 20,000 Earth Charter brochures in the Valencian language in advance of the meetings, and sent them to all schools of the Valencian Country. The Federation also promoted the Escola Valenciana’s sustainable society manifesto during the pre-Congress period, as well as the Green Book of the Valencian Territory, a systematic examination of the region’s environmental issues such as natural resources, biodiversity, economy and environment, and the sustainability challenges presented by increased urbanization.


Over 300 people attended the 2006 Congress, held on the campus of Universidad Politecnica de Valencia. 40 conferences and 23 presentations were given on the work of Valencian Country schools. Numerous schools presented murals their Earth Charter activites, ranging from environment and ecology, to social and economic justice, democracy, non-violence and peace. Abelardo Brenes, Earth Charter International Advisor, made a presentation on fundamental Earth Charter principles and their educational uses as a frame of reference for the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development. Guillem Ramis, Earth Charter Affiliate at the Balearic Islands, shared his experience using the Earth Charter as educational tool in primary schools. Maria Benavent and Antonio Esquinas oversaw the exhibition of diverse educational resources for working with the Charter.


Several meetings featured independent student projects, and explored how to incorporate them into the spring school gatherings. Some of these had all the Earth Charter principles displayed; others worked on a global scale; and some focused on themes that reflected their own worries and hopes. Some made murals, and others gave presentations. In “adoption actions,” groups selectged specific subjects for exploration and problem-solving in the spheres of environmental, social, economic and democratic participation.


Many educational centers chose aims inspired by the Earth Charter to develop projects with students and parents, such as recycling, alternative energy sources, creating vegetable gardens in school patios, construction of containers to separate materials, and the conservation of plants and natural settings.


The congress ended with the proclamation of a resolutions document, as well as a Decalogue for Environmentally Sustainable Educational Centers. The Congress and its resolutions received ample media coverage.


One of the most significant resolutions calls for the Valencian Government to promote education for sustainability based on Valencian culture amongst its citizens, as well as the creation of a Valencian Sustainability Council.


For more information, please visit http://www.fev.org/