In order to reflect, commemorate and celebrate Earth, Earth Charter International hosted the event “Nurturing Our Capacity to Care for Earth, Our Home, and Its Community of Life through Education,” on Thursday, 20 April 2023. This year the theme for Earth Day is: “Invest in our planet”, which focuses on the need to act, innovate and implement.
As human beings, we are part of the Community of Life. Therefore, it is our responsibility to take care of Earth, our home. Earth Day reminds us that Earth has about 4.5 billion years old, and especially that we are part of an interconnected system and web of life. This means that our actions have a direct impact on the environment and on the lives of all living beings.
The event began with the question for participants: “What is unique about Earth, our planet, and how do you feel about it?” These are some of the responses shared:
- “The uniqueness of Earth is peaceful biodiversity and how one living thing does not only support but is essential for the sustainability of other living things.” – Mahlet Girma
- “For me, Mother Earth is the closest source of vital energy that we have. The biggest investment we can make is to reconnect with that energy.” – Giovanny Blanco
- “Our connections with each other and with every aspect and diverse manifestation of life are what make this planet so unique and wonderful.” – Joan Anderson
The event counted with the participation of four wonderful panelists, who nurtured the dialogue with their different perspectives:
- Victoria Ibiwoye (Nigeria): Founder of the OneAfricanChild Foundation, educator and speaker.
- Bernard Combes (France): Programme Specialist, Education for Sustainable Development, Education Sector, UNESCO.
- Sam Crowell (USA): ECI faculty and board member, ECI Center for Education for Sustainable Development and co-author of “Emergent Teaching: A Path of Creativity, Significance, and Transformation.”
- Leonardo Boff (Brazil): Theologian, philosopher, writer, member of the Earth Charter Commission and author of over 70 books, including “Essential Care an Ethics of Human Nature” and “Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor.”
“We are citizens of the planet with the same common home. We were born from the heart of the stars…”Leonardo Boff
“If we take care of the Earth, it will in turn take care of us.”Victoria Ibiwoye
As part of the dialogue, the panelists reiterated the importance of investing in education, especially in an education that cultivates our sensitivity and awareness, as an effort that should lead us to reconnect with the Earth. This is one of the best decisions we can make to nurture our capacity to care for Earth.
Important contributions were shared from participants in the audience, who highlighted, among others, love and connection as central pillars for caring for Earth. Here are some examples of the feedback received during the session:
- “This sense of reconnection is key to motivating and inspiring action… We need to be motivated out of love, awe, beauty, and a great sense of care and empathy rather than by fear or guilt. Love alone has the energy to sustain us.” – Mark Hathaway
- “Perhaps what has been needed is to understand that the closest expression that nature has to your being is your body, because your body depends on the air it breathes, it depends on the water it drinks, the minerals of the Earth, the proteins from plants and energy from the sun. And this reveals a sacred truth: “We are all one.” – Mateo Castillo Ceja
At the end of the event, the need to strengthen, through education, the sensitivity and essence of the human being and the harmony with which one must live with the Community of Life and planet Earth was reaffirmed. The need to strengthen and unite our ability to reason and feel was recalled.
As a result of the reflections, the following comment was made by one of our participants, María Vilches: “As our panelists pointed out, it is essential to transform our vision of the world to an ecological one, one that promotes our connection with everything that exists. We need an education for life that encourages us to connect with ourselves, with everything that exists, and transcend to higher levels of consciousness”.
At the end of the event, the speakers were asked what they feel when they see an image of the Earth, and here are the answers:
- Victoria Ibiwoye: “What makes me think when I see the image of planet Earth is that we are the fabric of our community and we need to continue to come together to weave together a beautiful fabric for our world, for the people and the planet.”
- Bernard Combes: “The image of Earth makes me feel like looking at the eyes of somebody, so I am looking at the eyes of our Planet. The time is right now. It is the time to learn to act, to speak, to do for people and the planet and for all the other living being on this planet. And one final reminder, is that the photo of Earth clearly shows us that this is the blue planet and we also have to think about the water… Learn, Act now for people, the Planet and others.”
- Sam Crowell: “It is just so beautiful! I am struck with beauty, the absolute beauty of that image, and I am struck with how alive it seems. Just the feeling of life teaming with diversity and possibilities… so I am left with the feeling of gratitude to even be a “spec” in the span of time on this beautiful planet.”
- Leonardo Boff: “Looking at this great terrestrial globe I have the impression of great beauty. And this made me remember a phrase by Dostoyevsky that says ‘beauty will save the world’. In the romance of the Karamazov brothers’ narrative he clarifies what this means, beauty not as an experience of pure aesthetics, but the ability to feel and care for the other. If we feel the others, we take care of them. And for this, it is beauty, as a human dimension, this is going to save the world”.
The event was moderated by Mirian Vilela, Earth Charter International Executive Director, and organized by our UNESCO Chair in Education for Sustainable Development with the Earth Charter, which focuses on developing research and education programmes at the intersection between sustainability, education and ethical values.