ECI China Hosted a Special Gathering in Florida, USA

On 11 April 2024, an Earth Charter China Forum took place at the Springhill Suites by Marriott hotel, in Winter Park, Florida, USA. This special event brought together 20 participants with the purpose of sharing the process of establishing an Earth Charter International (ECI) in China under the support and leadership of Mme. Fang Hong.

After initial introductions by all attendees, Mirian Vilela, Executive Director of ECI, opened the gathering by reminding the audience that this was a special day in Costa Rica, as it was the day that the country celebrates a national hero, Juan Santamaría. She brought this example to the beginning of the meeting to link it with the occasion, highlighting the importance of some key ingredients to drive individuals to engage in processes of change. According to her, key ingredients in the process of change involve vision (shared vision or envisioning that a different world/situation is possible), courage and endurance (which come with passion), and genuine collaboration. She shared with the audience that for more than 15 years, ECI has been seeking to establish partnerships with different institutions in China. She mentioned that even though the Earth Charter drafting, and consultation process received contributions from Sun Honglie, from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Tu Weiming, Confucian Scholar and Song Li, ECI Council member, finding organizations open to partner with ECI has been quite a challenge.  Fortunately, about a year and a half ago, a new collaboration with Mme. Fang Hong, from Zhude (Beijing) International Culture Communication, emerged, which was followed by a strong collaboration with Liaoning University. She concluded by sharing how valuable and enriching the collaboration with Liaoning University has been over the past year.

In his presentation, Michael Bracken, Chair of the ECI Board, emphasized the willingness and importance of collaboration with China and the fact that ECI is eager to learn more and forge partnerships with organizations in China. To indicate ECI’s interest in building bridges between the East and the West, he commissioned an artist to develop two art works for the forum: one that celebrated 2024 as the year of the wood dragon and the other one to honor Chinese ancient wisdom and philosophy portrayed in Confucious and Lao Tzu. As indicated by the artist, Mobarick Abdullah III, “Confucious and Lao Tzu set the tone of this painting by greeting the world with their peaceful gaze. The two philosophers balance each other here like they did in life, one believing good moral character is the path to ‘cosmic harmony,’ the other learning toward empathy as a track to ultimate peace and harmony.” The 16 principles of the Earth Charter envelop the Yin Yang. The Dragon supports the delicate balance of light and dark, while the lotus flower symbolizes rising from a dark place into beauty and rebirth. The Chinese symbols represent the five virtues of Confucianism.”

Mr. Bracken concluded his comments by expressing how much ECI appreciates the new partnership with Mme. Fang and expressed gratitude for her leadership and dedication in the process of setting up Earth Charter International China.

This was followed by a keynote presentation offered by Mme. Fang Hong, president of ECI China, in which she shared the background of the work she has been doing over the years, especially in engaging leaders from the private sector in China’s efforts of international relations. This involved, among other things, training executives on leadership and international cooperation. She also shared the efforts she has undertaken over the past year in establishing an ECI China and seeking strategic partners in China.

Finally, Prof. Ma Shuang, Division Director of International Exchanges Department of Liaoning University, shared how important it is for Liaoning University to align the work they do with the vision of ecological civilization and how valuable the Earth Charter and the partnership with ECI has been in this process.