In connection with a special national ceremony for Earth Day (22 April 2007) — a ceremony that was hosted and keynoted by the President of the Republic, Felipe Calderón Hinojosa — Mexico‘s Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Education entered into a formal agreement to collaborate in the dissemination of the Earth Charter throughout Mexico‘s educational system. The agreement also marked a formal adoption of the UN Decade for Education for Sustainable Development (“DESD”), which ECI has partnered with UNESCO to promote. The agreement was personally signed by Mexico‘s Secretary of Environment, Juan Rafael Elvira Quesada, and Secretary of Education, Josefina Vazquez Mota.
ECI Co-Chair Steven Rockefeller also spoke at the event, which was coordinated by ECI Council member Mateo Castillo Ceja (recently appointed to a position in Mexico‘s government).
The agreement is a new high-water mark in Mexico‘s already strong national Earth Charter Initiative. Thousands of Mexican leaders in government, business, and especially civil society have participated in Earth Charter training workshops, and a many of Mexico‘s municipalities and state governments have formally recognized the Charter as well….
On issues ranging from nature conservation to climate change to human rights, the leaders present at these ceremonies spoke warmly of the Earth Charter and its capacity to “clearly show the way” toward a more just, sustainable, and peaceful world.
A young girl Maria Camila Amescua from the State of Michoacán offered words of inspiration and a call to act and shared her perception regarding the Earth´s ecological situation. Both the Governor of State of Michoacan, Lazaro Cardenas Batel, and Governor of State of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, also took part in the event and expressed their support. Secretary Mota noted that the nation’s school textbooks would be reviewed to ensure that they include a vision of sustainability and environmental protection.
President Calderon noted that the agreements signed by the Ministers of Environment and Education marked the beginning of “a new era in education” for Mexico.
The agreement establishes a national goal of assimilating the Earth Charter Principles into every dimension of education. It also establishes the mechanisms for coordination between ministries for the promulgation of the UN DESD.
In tandem with these announcements, President Calderon pledged that the nation would plant 250 million trees — a number equal to 25% of the global goal of a billion trees, set by the United Nations Environment Program and its “Plant for the Planet” initiative. (Earth Charter events in the United Kingdom in February 2007 helped launch that initiative in that country; and similar events featuring Wangari Maathai and Queen Beatrix will occur in the Netherlands on 7 June 2007.)
Several leading Mexican NGOs and institutes also endorsed the Charter as part of the Earth Day festivities, and one agency director noted in his speech that the endorsements were a way of strengthening a strong and voluntary commitment to “converting the Earth Charter Principles into reality to create a better Mexico and a better world.” These non-governmental endorsements strengthened the importance of the national government’s actions, and added to the already-large numbers of similar endorsements throughout the local government, academic and civil society sectors in Mexico. (As an example, 130 academic institutions have endorsed the Earth Charter, including every single one of Mexico‘s 74 technical schools and institutions.)
Mexico now organizes an annual event to bring Earth Charter Supporters and Endorsers together, and the events are growing larger each year.
Clearly, the Earth Charter has put down deep roots in Mexico‘s soil, and in the hearts of its people. The Mexican example is a strong example to the rest of the world.