My Journey Following the Earth Charter Compass

Earth Charter International: Internship Reflection
Written by Ann Cathrin Nachtwey, Earth Charter Young Leader from Europe

My journey with Earth Charter International (ECI) officially started with the homework assignment to read and reflect on the 16 Earth Charter principles. Embedded into the first-year curriculum of the bachelor’s degree Global Project and Change Management, at Windesheim Honours College, Earth Charter educator María Garcia Alvarez invited us to find inspiration and guidance in the universal Earth Charter compass. Therewith nurturing our collective consciousness and sensation of belonging to the greater community of life, I like to recognise her invitation as a gift. Speechless, the blueprint left a deep emotional impact on me, which ever since influenced the direction of my path.

It was then during my second academic year that I decided to take and follow the ECI online course on Leadership, Sustainability, and Ethics (short, LSE) as an accredited free study module. In Spring 2021, I hence joined the global LSE cohort of young professionals curious to explore and learn more about a common way forward. Cheerful to embark on this learning journey together, it didn’t take long, and course participants turned into friends. It is with gratitude and care for each other that, beyond today, our international friendships grow and flourish around the world.

After an enriching experience of new perspectives and insights, Amanda Bennett – Programme Manager of the Youth Programme – encouraged us to stay active and engaged as Earth Charter Young Leaders (ECYL) within the youth movement. Thus, upon completion of the course, many of us enthusiastically joined the Earth Charter youth community. With the wish to welcome more youngster to our network, I accepted the call of being the European regional youth coordinator; and correspondingly, helped in the facilitation of the following LSE course, during my third year. So, in co-creation with our small team of regional coordinators, we jointly built up a promising new global community structure.

Picture credit: AI

Both, my restless hope in the Earth Charter, together with my active involvement within ECI, naturally led to the application for an internship position during my fourth year. With fascination, followed by motivation, to listen, collect, and connect stories, I mindfully framed my traineeship under the theme and umbrella of Global Citizenship Education (GCED). Divided into a theoretical and practical part, I conducted a qualitative research study leading up to the writing of my final bachelor’s thesis; while, in parallel, helped in the preparation and organisation of a Youth Summer Camp 2023, in the Netherlands.

In retrospective, it was a beautiful interplay of communication, research, and project management that balanced my work with and for ECI. Remote from Paris, I thereby had the chance to represent ECYL during the Youth UNESCO Climate Action Network (YoU-CAN) consultation with the COP28 Youth Champion H.E. Ms Shamma Al Mazruiat. In the field, my gained knowledge resonated and found immediate use in the piloting of a wonderful youth exchange, and community project. Thus, in close communication with Amanda Bennett, and collaboration with ONE WORLD Citizens, precisely Monique van Dam, we founded and established the We Grow Together (WGT) movement. It was, above all, thanks to the wonderful support of Earth Charter affiliates and partners that, together, we joined hands with and for us, global citizens.

Picture credit: UNESCO Intern

Highlights of the thoughtfully designed Summer Camp programme were two Intergenerational Dialogue Event Days, which provided the space and time to meet and greet with influential sustainability professionals. According to the event motto Share & Shape (Y)Our World, we hence vividly exchanged our thoughts and ideas across disciplines, cultures, and generations. Besides, another moment of fruitful conversations was our special, in-person brainstorm session among ECYL. Hosted by Paul Lubbers, and facilitated by Amanda Bennett, we spent a whole day sharing our excitement and creativeness to find novel ways of conscious actions.

Picture credit: Till Brüggemann
Picture credit: Till Brüggemann

Now, with the end of my internship, and closure of the 2023 We Grow Together event series, a new design project of youth-led Earth Charter working groups has begun. Our Young Leaders brainstorm meeting therefore only marked the starting point of uniting efforts in co-building three organisational pillars, with focus on funds, memberships, and content. At some point, having cheerfully prolonged my traineeship, along with volunteering for different communities, I am looking forward to turning theory into practice, and dancing the talk. Ever since moved by the Earth Charter compass, I am unbelievably excited to travel to new horizons and reimagine Education for Ecological Civilisations in Spring 2024.

Reminders and lessons learnt along the way:

  • Travel inwards; together, shine in connection with your head, heart, and hands.
  • Meet human-to-human; together, care in conciliation as global citizens.
  • Talk eye-to-eye; together, build bridges between disciplines, cultures, and generations.

Picture credit: Till Brüggemann


Many thanks to everyone I met along the way, who cares, dares, and shares to awaken. Special thanks to those who gratefully accompanied, mentored, and/or hosted me. Regarding my internship semester, I would like to highlight the trusted support of my internship counsellor, ECI in-company mentor – Mirian Vilela, and contact person – Amanda Bennett, as well as profound knowledge of incredible interview partners.

Eager to grow together, it was Paul Lubbers who thankfully connected me with Monique van Dam, which further led to a joyful collaboration of two youth networks sharing a common dream. Today, ONE WORLD Citizens is an official Earth Charter affiliate, together co-hosting WGT community events. Exploring future directions, we write them together!

Picture credit: Till Brüggemann

United as a global network of Earth Charter affiliates, partners, educators, young leaders, and friends, it was thanks to a shared compass that my journey was enriched through and for GCED. Leaders and learners, at the same time, I am happy to continue weaving a web of stories and possible futures with individuals and their communities all around me.