The Earth Charter at a Conference on Education for Peace in Puerto Rico

On 26 February the UNESCO Chair on Peace Education of the University of Puerto Rico held their Annual Conference of Education for Peace 2013-2014. The event, hosted by the Department of Education, was attended by over 250 participants including university deans, professors, college and school students, and was also open to the general public.

The main topics discussed were peace, sustainability, and education. The focus was the Earth Charter and its implication for education and as an instrument for educators.

As coordinator of the UNESCO Chair on Education for Sustainable Development, Mirian Vilela, was invited to offer the conference keynote speech called “Sustainability Values, Education, and The Earth Charter.” The following day, she also offered an afternoon workshop on “Sustainability Education with the Earth Charter”.

Ms. Vilela stressed that “The Earth Charter can be considered as a declaration of responsibility and interdependence…and that it offers an ethical framework of values and principles that can guide us to a more just, sustainable, and peaceful world.”

“I am under the impression that throughout recent times ethics and reflection on values have been perceived as unpractical, too philosophical, abstract, and even irrelevant…for which people have preferred to not ‘waste’ any time on it”, explained Ms. Vilela. “However, it is important that education experiences offer a space to reflect on the importance of ethical values to guide decisions, especially for those who are graduating from academic institutions.”

She also invited the audience to reflect on words from the Earth Charter, “We must realize that when basic needs have been met, human development is primarily about being more, not having more. What does it mean to be more?”

This encounter has opened some possibilities for future collaboration between the University of Puerto Rico’s UNESCO Chair on Education for Peace and the UNESCO Chair on Education for Sustainable Development with the Earth Charter.