Making the Invisible Visible. Conference on Indicators, Sustainability and Values

From 16 to 18 December a conference called “Making the Invisible Visible” was organized at the University of Brighton, UK.  The aim of this conference was to provide a space to discuss ways to measure the impact of projects and other type of initiatives related to human values and sustainability, an unmet need for many organizations and individuals (CSOs, businesses, funders, etc) working on the field of sustainability.

A major driver for the initiation of this conference is the ESDinds EU research project, whose results on the development of values-based indicators were presented at this conference.  

The Earth Charter Initiative was one of ESDinds project’s members, in this sense, it had an active participation during the conference.   During the first panel called “Developing an Overview”,  Jeffrey Newman Earth Charter UK Director, argued that for more than 20 years since the Brundtland Commission Report, the importance of values and ethical principles to make possible the transition for sustainability has been highlighted, that is why the Earth Charter was created, as an effort from the civil society.  Previously,  Mr. Bedrich Moldan, Senator in the Parliament of the Czech Republic, and the Director of Charles University Environment Center, Prague (CUEC), told the audience about his involvement with the drafting of the Earth Charter during Rio 92, and how important this was, even though this effort was unsuccessful at that moment.

Other  panelists expressed their opinions on the importance of values for the efforts carried out under the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, also for businesses and for policy making.

The conference continued the next two days with  panel presentations,  specialist sessions and informal spaces where the common denominator was sharing about concrete examples of ESDinds project´s results, other initiative´s results using different indicators framework, and/or  making theoretical contributions to the debate of the possibility to measure the presence of values in projects or organizations.

On behalf of Earth Charter network, Cardiela Amezcua, Director of Echeri, an EC member from Mexico, shared their experience of using the ESDinds indicators, they were one of the case studies to validate the indicators.  Alicia Jimenez, ECI Secretariat staff presented an overview of Earth Charter Initative’s participation in this project, in addition to Echeri´s case, other EC related experiences were with the University of Guanajuato, with eGLO course evaluation and around 30 more organizations who were contacted by the Secretariat to test the indicators. 

All experiences presented showed very positive results when using this indicators framework.  All plenaries were recorded, check this site to listen to them:  www.esdinds.eu

One of the expected results of this conference was the creation of a community of practice to enable a continuing sharing and collaboration with academics and practitioners in the topics of assessments, values and sustainability.   ECI Secretariat has expressed its commitment to continue testing and sharing this tool, we think it could be very valuable to help organizations evaluate and measure the impact of their work, in additionto offer new  vocabulary to express all the different dimensions of their initiatives.

To learn more about the indicatores developed by ESDinds project, and to get involved with this community of practice visit this site:  www.wevalue.org