Costa Rica Archives - Earth Charter

EC International Education Conference 2019 Report

BannerThe Conference Report for the 2019 Earth Charter International Education Conference: Leading the Way to Sustainability 2030 is now available. The Conference was hosted by the Earth Charter Center for Education for Sustainable Development at University for Peace, with the support of World of Walas and Soka Gakkai International, from 29 to 31 January. More than 100 participants from 18 countries attended this conference and had the opportunity to share educational experiences and discuss pedagogical approaches focused on sustainable development and global citizenship.

The report summarizes the 66 presentations given by presenters from over 10 different countries. Due to this rich cultural diversity, the conference was held in English and Spanish and divided into nine plenary sessions and four categories of parallel sessions. The presenters came from different educational fields such as school education, higher education, and non-formal education. In addition, we counted on the participation of presenters from the fields of local government, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, and UNESCO.

We invite you to read the report to learn more about the work being done to contribute to the advancements in education for sustainable development by members of the Earth Charter Network as well as those who were new to this community.

Access the report here.

You can read more about the Education Conference here.

To view pictures of the Conference click here.

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Earth Charter International Education Conference 2019

Earth Charter International Education Conference 2019


29 – 31 January 2019

The Earth Charter Center for Education for Sustainable Development at University for Peace, with the support of World of Walas and Soka Gakkai International, hosted the Earth Charter International Education Conference: Leading the Way to Sustainability 2030. The conference took place on the University for Peace campus from 29 to 31 January.

More than 100 people participated from 18 countries, such as Mexico, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Brazil, the United States, Canada, Guatemala, France, the Netherlands, Romania, Spain, Germany, the United Kingdom, Nigeria, Japan, among others. A wide variety of sectors were represented, including universities, school educators, local government officials, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, as well as UNESCO representatives from both the Headquarters and the Regional Office for Central America and Mexico, and the Ministry of Public Education of Costa Rica.

This conference sought to share experiences and research projects and generate a dialogue on pedagogical approaches, materials and lessons learned in the search for necessary transformations in education processes for sustainable development and global citizenship.

The Conference was held in English and Spanish, with 66 presentations, divided into nine plenary sessions and four categories of parallel sessions, namely: school education, higher education, and non-formal education in English and Spanish. Among the speakers were recognized authors in the field of education, especially education for sustainable development, global citizenship, transformative education, among others. In addition, pedagogical principles that encourage interaction and enjoyment were put into practice. In this sense, at the Conference there were nature walks, music and dancing, as well as moments of reflection, meditation and sharing among the participants.

Many shared their experiences on how they have been working with values in their education practices. It was emphasized that ESD is about transformative action and that any Earth Charter education requires involving the mind, the heart and the hands.

There was so much richness in thought and exchange in all sessions leading to a quite unique experience. In his presentation, Dr. Peter Blaze Corcoran invited participants to look at the future with hope. His keynote address highlighted the importance of Radical Hope, world affirming spirituality and intergeneration action and equity. Dr. Sam Crowell invited participants to reflect on the role of education in helping us to identify “who we are and what kind of a person we want to be?” Dr. Namrata Sharma said, “the behavioral response to solve global issues would be rooted in a non-dualistic belief system which perceives an inextricable link between the self-other-nature-universe.” She also shared some recommendations identified from a study of value-creating global citizenship education and the Earth Charter for the UN 2030 global citizenship agenda. Dr. María Vilches shared the findings of her research on “Ecopedagogy and the Eco-Schools programme in Puerto Rico.”

Mrs. Akpezi Ogbuigwe, a well-known speaker and former Director of the Education Division of the United Nations Environment Programme, gave the Conference closing remarks with an emotional speech. She posed the question: “If so much is being done, why do we still have compounding wicked problems?” She talked about the importance of powering the SDGs with the EC spirit as a crucial step to the future we want. She ended her speech with an emotional poem with an invitation to rise up to the task of social transformation through education.

The feedback received has been very positive. As part of the follow-up to this Conference, the organizers will be creating a report and a publication in book format, which compiles the main ideas shared through articles written by the participants themselves.

Click here for more information about this Conference.

Follow the link to see the Conference Agenda:

Click here to watch a video of the Conference.

To view pictures of the Conference click here:

photo para noticia

Organized by:






With the support of:

SGI-LOGO2 worldofwalas-logo

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Launch of the Earth Charter Education book, National University, Costa Rica


On Thursday, 25 October, a special event was organized at the National University of Costa Rica (UNA), to launch the publication of the Journal of Education for Sustainable Development translated into Spanish as part of the annual meeting of the network of educators Delta Kappa Gamma. This International Society of Educators seeks to contribute to the professional and personal growth of the educators who are part of this network. The translation of this publication was undertaken by Bianchinetta Benavides, professor at the School of Literature and Language Sciences of the National University, who shared reflections on the publication at this occasion.

The event “Our Common Home: Educating for Sustainable Development” featured reflections from the Rector of the UNA, Alberto Salom, the Dean of the Center of General Studies, Roberto Rojas, the Director of the Earth Charter International, Mirian Vilela and of the deputy-dean of General Studies, Miguel Baraona Cockerell, who offered an overview of the history of humanism. The event also counted with the participation of Ana Lourdes Acuña, President of Delta Kappa Gamma- Costa Rica, and Daniel Rueda, Vice-Rector of Research of the National University.

The publication launched showcases a series of articles on education for sustainable development, and the role of the Earth Charter as an educational instrument. It also provides examples of the use of the Earth Charter in education in various settings. For example, in the article “Living in the Earth: Towards an Education for Our Time” by Stephen Sterling, the author describes “the importance of recognizing the mismatch between a shared perception of separateness in Western thinking and the systemic and inevitably participative nature of the world.” He also “traces the development of forms of ‘education for change’ that seek to address sustainability issues that stem from dissociation.”

The article by Rose Marie Inojosa, “Promoting the Earth Charter in São Paulo’s Municipal Education System,” describes “the process of widespread teacher training based on the Earth Charter in the municipal area of São Paulo, Brazil, which diffused knowledge of the Earth Charter among 800 educators and through them, to one million children. This process was developed by the team from UMAPAZ.”

The translation and publication of this work in Spanish allows the reach of a greater number of readers, serving as a resource for all interested in the subject of education for sustainability, or in the Earth Charter in education in all the Spanish-speaking countries in Ibero-America. It is hoped that this publication will inspire many to use it and replicate teaching, research and activities related to values of sustainability and the Earth Charter.

This publication is the result of cooperative ties between the Center for General Studies of the UNA and the Earth Charter International Secretariat. The Center for General Studies of the UNA has being working with the Earth Charter for many years and offers a course on Planetary Citizenship and the Earth Charter to first-year students of the university.

The original publication was launched in 2010 with the aim of contributing to the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014), and continues to be a unique contribution to the process of education in sustainability values within the framework of the new Education 2030 Agenda.

We invite you to read the publication, use it and promote it.

Access the book by following the links:

English version:

Spanish version:

Video of the launch:


Notes about the Translation, Bianchinetta Benavides-Segura

Editorial – An Ethical Framework for a Sustainable World, Kartikeya V. Sarabhai

Introduction to the Special Issue – Earth Charter Education for Sustainable Ways of Living, Rick Clugston

Opinion Essays

Peace Education, ESD and the Earth Charter: Interconnections and Synergies, Toh Swee-Hin (S.H. Toh) and Virginia Floresca Cawagas

Dangers Facing the Earth Charter, Javier Reyes Ruiz

The Why and What of ESD : A Rationale for Earth Charter Education (and Naming Some of Its Difficulties), Noel Preston

Earth Charter, ESD and Chinese Philosophies, Yunhua Liu and Alicia Constable

Reorienting Education Practices towards Sustainability, Moacir Gadotti

Living in the Earth: Towards an Education for Our Time, Stephen Sterling

Going Global in Arlington, Virginia, Edgar Miranda


CREADS, A Teacher Training Course on ESD in Costa Rica, Alicia Jiménez Elizondo

Promoting the Earth Charter in São Paulo’s Municipal Education System, Rose Marie Inojosa

Forging Inclusive Solutions : Experiential Earth Charter Education, Linda D. Hill

The Earth Charter Goes Interactive and Live with e-GLO : Using New Media to Train Youth Leaders in Sustainability on Both Sides of the Digital Divide, Mike Sheehan and Jaana Laitinen

Practicing ESD at School : Integration of Formal and Nonformal Education Methods Based on the Earth Charter (Belarusian Experience), Sofia Savelava, Savelau Dmitry and Marina Bakhnova Cary

The Methodist University Sustainable Program : Using the Earth Charter to Mainstream

Sustainability, Waverli Maia Matarazzo-Neuberger and Vicente Manzione Filho

Practices of Integrating the Earth Charter into Education Activities in German Federal States of Hessen and Rheinland-Pfalz, Reiner Mathar

Make a World of Difference : Hearing Each Other, Healing the Earth, Hiro Sakurai

Student Research

Using EC-Assess to Assess a Small Biofuels Project in Honduras, Franklin Chamda Ngassa

The Earth Charter and the ESDinds Initiative: Developing Indicators and Assessment Tools for Civil Society Organisations to Examine the Values Dimensions of Sustainability Projects, Dimity Podger, Georgia Piggot, Martin Zahardník, Svatava Janouškavá, Ismael Velasco, Tomás Tenía, Arthur Dahl, Alicia Jiménez and K. Marie Duro.

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Capacity building for the Ministry of Public Education of Costa Rica

MEP Bimodal 4The Earth Charter Center for ESD at the University for Peace is offering a training course for teachers and administration staff of the Ministry of Public Education of Costa Rica on Education for Sustainable Development.

The course has 80 hours with a hybrid modality (face-to-face and online) distributed in 64 virtual hours and 16 face to face hours. In terms of calendar time, the course lasts approximately one and a half months.

The general objective is to strengthen the capacity of participants to reorient their education practices towards sustainability and to apply teaching strategies that promote education for sustainable development in educational processes.

The course has six modules, in which participants have the opportunity to deepen their knowledge about sustainable development, the current challenges of global change, delve into the concept and pedagogy of education for sustainable development, putting into practice the knowledge acquired from a practical project.

For 2018, this course will be offered for two groups, each one with 20 people. The participants are teachers and administrative staff from different parts of the country.

MEP Bimodal 5

MEP Bimodal 9

MEP Bimodal 7


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VIVA Schmidheiny Awards – Entrepreneurs Competition

Viva premios

The VIVA Schmidheiny Award is an annual contest that challenges social entrepreneurs and innovative organizations, helping them to strengthen the management of their projects and to scale their impact.

In its 2018 edition, they joined forces with Earth Charter International and the University for Peace, for this reason, the contest and award ceremony was held in Costa Rica at the Earth Charter Education Center facilities.

The Awards are granted in 4 categories: NGOs with Environmental Impact, NGOs with Social Impact, Companies with Environmental Impact, and Companies with Social Impact; and 2 special awards: Innovation in Collective Action, and Public Vote.

Three finalists from each of these categories (and from 10 countries) traveled to this award event to present their initiatives before an expert panel of international judges, who are in charge of selecting the winners.

The first places in each category received a prize of USD$15,000; and the second places USD$2,500. In addition to the cash prizes, each of these 12 finalists will receive a scholarship to attend the VIVA 2018 Workshop, a social entrepreneurship training space aimed at strengthening their strategies and scaling up their impact.

The finalists will also have the possibility of winning the special prize to the “Public Vote” for USD$5,000 and the special prize for “Innovation in Collective Action” of USD$2,000.
The prizes are designed with three purposes:

• Promote innovation for sustainability
• Train new entrepreneurs
• Generate and exchange knowledge

The VIVA Schmidheiny Awards are evaluated by a multinational jury, composed of entrepreneurs, investors, academics, and successful leaders with experience in social entrepreneurship. On behalf of the Earth Charter International, Alicia Jiménez participated as part of the jury.

During the ceremony, there were several panels of experts talking about the topic of social and environmental entrepreneurship. The Director of the Earth Charter International, Mirian Vilela, gave a talk on the role of the Earth Charter as a guide for sustainable ventures.





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Proceedings of Education for Sustainable Living workshop

Education Sustainable LivingThe workshop ¨Education for Sustainable Living –  Advancing teaching and learning for responsible consumption¨ took place on 24th April  2018 in the framework of UNESCO Global Action Programme on ESD Global Network Meeting, in Costa Rica.

We are sharing here the proceedings of this workshop, which include the presentation files and some pictures from the days, as well as a summary of each session and a review of the workshop outcomes.

ESL Workshop Proceedings

This workshop was  organised  by: Latin  America  PERL  Regional  Network,  Centre  for  Collaborative  Learning  for  Sustainable  Development  at  Inland  Norway  University  of  Applied  Sciences and  the  Earth  Charter  Center  for  Education  for  Sustainable  Development.

Find here more information about PERL work on Education for Sustainable Lifestyles.

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Teacher training to UNESCO Associated Schools- Costa Rica

The Earth Charter Center of Education for Sustainable Development, through the UNESCO Chair of Education for Sustainable Development offered the course called Educating for Sustainability with the Earth Charter, to UNESCO Associated Schools Project Network of Costa Rica (ASPnet).

This course took place on 10 -11 May 2018, the Earth Charter Center coordinated the first day of the course, the second day was a field visit to a farm of the National Electricity Company of Costa Rica (CNFL).

Thirty teachers from all over Costa Rica, rural and urban, and from public and private educational centers participated.

The main objective of the course was to offer basic training on the philosophical and ethical principles of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) with which ASPnet works, using the Earth Charter, an ethical framework recognized by UNESCO for the development of ESD worldwide.

On the first day of the course, activities were carried out to expand knowledge about the concept of sustainability and systems thinking. The ESD policy framework was presented, and activities were carried out to introduce the principles of the Earth Charter. The course was highly participatory in order to seek a joyful process for the participants.

The Earth Charter Center has been for several years offering this training in support of the UNESCO Associated Schools Network.


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International Congress on Habitat and Sustainable Cities GBCCR 2018

Green Building 2Forty-five presenters in the field of Sustainable Urban Development gathered to share their expertise and vision on the current and future life in cities during the 5th Congress of Sustainable Cities organized by the Green Building Council Costa Rica (GBCCR) 17 – 18 May 2018. Many emerging challenges and solutions in urban development were pointed out, especially given the rapid growing urban population and the pressure it generates on natural resources use. All agreed on the fact that we need to stop working in silo’s, create multi-stakeholders alliances, start sharing knowledge and find ways to cooperate to transform urban area’s into vibrant, safe, livable cities.

City of Love

At the opening session, the President of the Green Building Council, Mr. Tai Lee Siang said that building innovation should focus on zero waste and the basic understanding of the broad vision of sustainability. At the end, he presented key ideas of his book ‘Cities of love’, in which he makes a point that if we love something, we care for it. “If we love our city, we will care for it as we do for our family.” Mr. Tai Lee Siang stressed the importance of constant feedback loop between the users, the builders and all those involved in a development project.

The morning session also counted with a speech by the new first lady of Costa Rica, Claudia Dobles (architect and urban planner), who reaffirmed her determination to help address the challenges of public transportation and mobility in San Jose. She stressed a number of key ideas on the importance of better articulation, cooperation and true commitments of both the public and the private sector. She said that “we need to rethink how we design urban planning… and the vision of the city we want…. we have to consider cities as instruments to generate employment and to address social inequalities”.

Green Building 3Several presenters emphasized the importance to move ahead towards the vision of “smart cities” as a place that seeks the quality of life of its inhabitants and that considers the interconnectedness of various sectors.

Earth Charter

Among the Sustainability experts was Mirian Vilela, Executive Director of the Earth Charter International Center on Education for Sustainable Development. At the closing plenary, she talked about the excitement many feel when they arrive in a big city until you realize the huge number of people consuming water, food, energy and generating waste in such a condensed space and short time. Mirian emphasized the need for long-term urban planning and visioning through a broad sustainability and values-based approach. She shared a few examples of cities that have used the Earth Charter as a road map for their policy design and urban planning. She encouraged participants to consider these examples and use the Earth Charter as an ethical framework for sustainable urban development and as a compass when seeking to transform cities into centers of innovation.

Irma Verhoeven, Programme and Partnership Development manager at the Earth Charter International Secretariat and project manager at the World of Walas (author of the Earth Charter Cities Manifesto) shared the techniques Walas’ uses to transform old industrial areas into vibrant neighborhoods. These techniques are based on the values described in the Earth Charter.

The Weight of Cities

Green Building 1Adriana Zacarias (Regional Coordinator of Resource Efficiency sub-programme at UNEP at the Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean) presented a summary of the UN Environment report “The Weight of Cities” at the opening plenary.

During the session ‘Smart Cities II’ Prof. Mark Swilling of the Stellenbosch University in South Africa, presented details of the findings of this important research study on Requirements for Future Urbanization. The UNEP report is a ‘must read’ for everyone, especially in the work field of Sustainable Development. Find here the link to both the summary as well as the full report.

¨We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to shift this expected urbanization on to a more environmentally sustainable and socially just path. Decisions made today on urbanization and land-use models, as well as on critical infrastructure, will determine whether our investments are future-proof, or whether they lock us on to an unsustainable path.¨

To achieve a transition to low-carbon, resource-efficient, socially just cities, the report recommends:

  •  Monitoring the flow of resources entering and leaving the cities to understand the local situation and to help develop resource-efficient strategies.
  •  Planning cities to have:
  • Compact growth, to avoid urban sprawl and so economize on the square kilometres of asphalt, the concrete, the electricity and the water wasted in spread-out cities.
  • Better connections by efficient and affordable public transport (e.g. light rail, bus rapid transit).
  • Liveable neighbourhoods where design encourages people to walk or cycle.
  • Resource-efficient urban components, such as car sharing, electric vehicles and charging point networks, efficient energy, efficient waste and water systems, smart grids, cycle paths, energy-efficient buildings, new heating, cooling and lighting technology, etc.
  • Infrastructure for cross-sector efficiency, such as using waste heat from industry in district energy systems and industrial waste materials in construction, such as fly-ash bricks.
  •  Establishing a new model for city governance and politics that supports imaginative business propositions and experimentation.

In conclusion

Although there are many good examples of sustainability urban planning, broadly, urban planning and cities are still being managed with fragmented, short-term and unsustainable approaches. Cities generate an incredible pressure on natural resources. Therefore, educating the general public, policy makers and builders on the basic understanding of sustainability and the true value of green building is essential. It is safe to say that the CICS2018 conference offered high quality information presented by key experts working on the transformation toward Sustainable Cities.

For more information on this Congress click here.

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Dawn of Interspirituality Conference in Latin America

The Earth Charter International Secretariat was invited to participate in the International Conference “Dawn of Interspirirtuality in Latin America”, which took place on March 12 to 16, 2018 in Costa Rica.

Conference Dawn Interspirituality

Satyana Institute organized this conference.  This Institute, based in Colorado, USA, is trying to build on the Snowmass interreligious dialogue that Father Thomas Keating organized in a period of 30 years with religious leaders.

This was the first time that a conference of this type took place in Latin America, and they joined efforts with Institute of Interreligious Dialogue, co-founded by Pope Francis in Argentina.

“You are invited to take a step into the unknown, toward a possible future that can only be imagined, when the religions of the world truly meet each other”.  Father Keating.

This was part of the invitation of this conference; find a future of peace together.

The Conference speakers were important spiritual leaders of different religions, for example Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, Tibetan Buddhist Nun; Sister Lucy Kurien, Catholic nun, founder of Maher;  Bishop Marc Andrus, Episcopal Bishop of California and many others (see the Conference’s web page). The richness of their messages was enormous, but this conference tried to go beyond the rational and academic thinking, there were many moments of meditation and personal reflection, also music, art and ceremonies. It was a transformative experience for those who had the privilege of participating.

A graphic facilitator was capturing the messages of the different talks; the drawing below is her poetic interpretation of what Alicia Jimenez, ECI Staff member shared about the Earth Charter.

Earth Charter Poetic Drawing20180315_191413

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Earth Charter and Laudato Si’ book launch at Integral Ecology Symposium

Laudato Si Earth CharterEarth Charter International is pleased to share its latest publication, the book: ¨Voices of the Earth Charter Initiative responding to Laudato Si’ ¨

Find this publication in this link.

This publication aims to identify linkages and contribute to the understanding between the Encyclical Laudato Si’ and the Earth Charter, given that the content and purpose of both are very similar. To achieve this, we have compiled a series of articles written by renowned writers and global leaders, reflecting and deepening on the nexus and meaning of the ethical proposals of these two documents and the challenges they launch.

Authors: Leonardo Boff, Fritjof Capra, Joe Holland, Elizabeth May, José Matarrita, Awraham Soetendorp, Steven C. Rockefeller, Mary Evelyn Tucker, and John Grim.

The ¨International Symposium on Ecology Laudato Si’, Care of the Common House: a necessary conversion to Human Ecology¨; which took place in Costa Rica from November 29 to December 1 of 2017, was an important motivator to create this publication.  This Symposium has been one of the most important international, academic, and ecological events of the year organized by the Vatican (Ratzinger Foundation). The Catholic University of Costa Rica organized the event, with the support of the Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Foundation, which holds this event annually.

The publication was shared in digital form with more than 600 participants of this Symposium. In addition, it was presented at one of the working sessions that took place on Friday, December 1; which was coordinated by Mrs. Mirian Vilela, Executive Director of the Earth Charter International.

Here are some highlights of the Laudato Si’ Symposium on Ecology:

The Symposium began with formal speeches, where the President of the Republic of Costa Rica, Mr. Luis Guillermo Solís Rivera, was present. Then, eight presentations with leading speakers continued (See here the Symposium Agenda).


Pope Francis sent a message to the Symposium. Click here to find it.

Here are excerpts from some of the presentations:

-Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Bishops Congregation, President of the Latin American Pontifical Commission:

¨Why did Pope Francis write the “Laudato Si’ encyclical letter”? Cardinal Ouellet addressed this question in his presentation, saying that the Pope has assumed the urgency of the environmental and sustainability problems of our “common home” and calls for a dialogue with everyone on this issue. This encyclical does not make an appeal to the Catholic Church on a subject, but a call for everyone to participate in an interreligious dialogue that seeks solutions to the existing challenges; this method, according to Cardinal Ouellet, is unheard of for a Pope. The Pope took advantage of the political momentum in 2015, with the launch of the 2030 Agenda and the Climate Summit in Paris, to intensify his call.

20171130_101435In regards to the content of the encyclical, Cardinal Ouellet stated that it makes an assessment of the current situation, not exhaustively, but based on available scientific evidence. The Pope reflects on the current progress, which he mentions is a myth, and that it is worrying that there is an accelerated increase in the development and use of technologies without an ethical reflection on its purposes; which makes it difficult for people to make ethical decisions about these.

Another point to highlight is the clarification of the relationship of reciprocity, and not domination, that human beings should have with nature. The Pope expresses this in paragraphs 67 to 75. He invites us to look at creation in a way that encourages compassion and communion with everyone; and at the same time, it is Christological.

In paragraph 160, Pope Francis warns that what is at stake is our own dignity and survival, promoting in that sense an ecological conversion that aims for a new way of life, a cultural revolution to overcome individualism, promote human solidarity, and universal community with all living creatures. The Cardinal mentioned that the spiritual dimension of this ecological conversion implies rejoicing with little, sobriety, the search for fraternal encounters, and contact with nature (LS 223).

20171201_152910An audacity of Pope Francis, according to Cardinal Ouellet, is to make explicit the connection between the Trinity and creation. Each person acts in communion with the others and in function of the creation, and then the creation is a gift implied in the exchange of the three persons, who give mutual glorification with the creation.

He mentioned as well that the ultimate realization of the human person is to leave behind individualism to connect with others, seeing themselves as servants and guardians of the common home.

-Dr. Tomás Insua, Executive Director of Global Catholic Climate Movement

He invited the audience to get involved in actions that lead to the ecological conversion mentioned by Pope Francis. He recommended the platform: and the Mission 2020 initiative, launched by Christiana Figueres.

He emphasized the time from 1 September to 4 October, called “Time for creation”, as a period set to intensify the awareness of Laudato Si’ message.

– Mons. Fernando Chica Arellano. Permanent Observer of the Holy See before the FAO, IFAD, and WFP.

He reflected on the results of the State of 20171201_090738Food Security 2017 FAO Report, where they asked: why does hunger in the world increases? They identified three major causes:

  • War conflicts (both domestic and international)
  • Climate change effects
  • Social gaps

The Encyclical Laudato Si’, which he considers to be the Ecological Sum of the Catholic Church, is like a compass to guide us in addressing the challenges that are generating famine in the world.

Mgr. Chica mentioned that there are three key words in the Encyclical:

  1. Everyone: it invites everybody to participate, because we are all implicated. The text of the encyclical, which makes this invitation, is like “fine wine”; it does not accumulate years but youth and liveliness.
  2. Urgent: the Encyclical stresses that we do not have time, we must act now; it is the urgency of love, social love at the center of the community of life.
  3. Together: It highlights that we need to work collaboratively, to generate synergies, convergences. Chapter V of the encyclical talks about this (Dialogue).

He invited us to get to work, having a service attitude, nourishing ourselves with what Jesus did in the cross.

Rev. Augusto Zampini. Member of the CAFOD and Theological advisor of the new Dicastery for the Integral Human Development Service of the Holy See.

One of the great challenges that we live, according to Rev. Zampini, is to achieve an inclusive development that incorporates all human dimensions. This vision is included in the concept of integral ecology, which Pope Francis presents and which is based on a relational paradigm, recognizing us as social beings, in relation with other beings and with God.

20171201_104432In terms of the ecological conversion, necessary for an inclusive development, there are important changes to be made in the human heart and on social and political structures. Changing a daily habit requires a great motivation which comes from the deep, that “deep” is spirituality. When we feel saturated, we feel unplugged, but through an integral spirituality it is possible to focus, live in peace, and this liberation helps to move to action. Rev. Zampini recommended reading  the apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium and the document of Aparecida – V General Conference of the Latin American and Caribbean Episcopal Council (CELAM).

What contributions could Christian spirituality offer? One aspect is to not put human beings at the center of creation, because this is associated with the paradigm of control. Rather, we must return to the bases towards an eco-centrism, towards the ethics of care, using iconic visions (symbols), which leads us to a contemplation and celebration that brings us closer to nature. Church rituals can serve to reaffirm the common good and our interconnection, because they imply a shared experience of time, where humans discover themselves in a profound way and in relation to others. In addition, these rituals link the human with the sky and the earth. It would be important for all parishes to refresh the notion that the bread of life is converted from the fruits of the earth and the work of “men”, so it is important to take care of the fruits of earth and the work of “men”.

Although he did not explicitly refer to the Earth Charter, he mentioned that Christian spirituality promotes the notion that people should seek to be more and not have more. Also, this spirituality seeks sobriety, which helps us to move away from utilitarianism.

The last two presentations on 30 November focused on instruments for measuring or evaluating social progress and sustainability. Mr. Michael Green, Executive Director of the Social Progress Imperative, presented the report on Social Progress by countries for 2017:

Mr. Roberto Artavia Loría presented an evaluation tool to measure the implementation of the Encyclical Laudato Sí in countries, which will be used by the new Laudato Si’ Observatory, promoted and coordinated by the Catholic University of Costa Rica.

-F. Federico Lombardi, S.J. President of the Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Vatican Foundation.

IMG_2044On the 2nd day of the Symposion, F. Lombardi spoke on behalf of Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, who was unable to attend the Symposium, on the topic of integral ecology in the center of Catholic education. He mentioned the importance of renewing the heart to achieve change. He stressed that the pedagogy of Jesus must be at the center of Catholic education, following the image of the servant, of humility, and reconciliation. Jesus was in close contact with nature, with his environment, and the daily life of the people, for this reason, he found parables close to the context of the people to diffuse his message.

The notion of interdependence with everything is what God asks, and this notion should be present in the integral education programmes related to the Encyclical Laudato Si’; whose approach should generate a resistance to the advancement of the technocratic paradigm. He affirmed the need for a new education that leads to a regeneration and dialogue to care for nature and help the poor.

He urged that the entire Christian community get involved in this education, specifically in schools, where young people are enabled to achieve an integral awareness and the practice of charity. In institutions of Higher Education, transmitting information is not enough, but the approach to the truth through an interdisciplinary dialogue, and where the potential of nature as educator is highlighted. He called for Catholic Universities to include the ethical dimension in their study programmes, using the Encyclical Laudato Si’, as well as studying the issues and current situation in their own contexts, providing an ethical guide.

-Prof. Pe. Josafá Carlos de Siqueira, S.J.: Rector of the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio)

He invited the universities to seek interdisciplinary work with a systemic vision, trying to generate a dialogue of knowledge in the light of Laudato Si’. He mentioned the importance of breaking with the anthropocentric vision, and encouraging small initiatives that help to put into practice interdisciplinarity with a vision of being guardians and caregivers of the common home. He invited everyone to seek to see us as “modest gardeners”.

Mr. Josafá presented on the specific case of the Institutional Environmental Agenda of the PUC of Rio de Janeiro, where a large number of actions are implemented in relation to the environmental management of the institution, and where they have also organized an interdisciplinary nucleus of environment, which coordinates interdisciplinary research efforts.


After the presentations, participants were divided in six Working Group sessions, which addressed different issues and questions.

The groups had a short central presentation offered by an expert on different topics, and then worked on generating inputs for several guiding questions and recommendations for the Laudato Si’ Observatory. The working groups addressed the following topics:

1) The intimate relationship between the poor and the fragility of the planet: satisfaction of basic needs and the culture of discarding.

2) The conviction that in the world everything is connected: the environmental balance and social mobility.

3) Criticism of the new paradigm and the forms of power that derive from technology: impact of environmental management for human beings and for our common home.

4) The invitation to seek other ways of understanding the economy and progress, and the serious responsibility of the international and local politics.

5) The proper value of each creature and the human sense of ecology: exercise of rights and freedom.

20171201_152943Mirian Vilela, Executive Director of Earth Charter International, contributed to Group 4, with a presentation in which she linked the international policies of the United Nations with other similar or related initiatives to Laudato Si’ as the Earth Charter ; and invited the Catholic community to build bridges between the Laudato Si’ and other efforts. In the dialogue, she stressed the importance of education in ethical values, and to ensure a better and more effective articulation and application of policies and laws.

The work and inputs of these groups were presented in plenary, and the Conference ended with a presentation by Mr. René Castro, Assistant Director of FAO, in which he shared the urgency of addressing climate change using examples of reforestation efforts and soil recovery. He indicated that his greatest learning, by participating in this conference, was to visualize the importance of spirituality to address the great challenges of humanity. Mr. Fernando Felipe Sánchez, Rector of the Catholic University of Costa Rica and Father Federico Lombardi offered the closing words, recognizing the transcendence of this event and the importance for the Catholic community (including educational entities) of continuing to work collaboratively for the conversion to integral ecology as articulated in the encyclical Laudato Si’.

Written by: Alicia Jimenez, Director of Programmes of EC Center for ESD.

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