The Earth Charter and Green Economy is the focus of this year’s activities of the Department of Development at Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Syria, and the main sight of the Rio +20 preparations in Syria and the region.

This Department, under the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Syria, is implementing a project called SAWA: Sustainable Actions for The World Academy.  This is a series of capacity building initiatives for state and non-state actors to link local and national sustainable development activities with the global agenda.

The project is carried out in collaboration with the State Ministry of Environmental Affairs and ESCWA (The UN Economic and Social Commission for West Asia), which is leading the preparation to Rio +20 in the Arab region.

As a part of the national preparation for Rio +20 in Syria, the project team organized the first training workshop (March 2011) on the transition towards Green Economy including trade and environment and green jobs. The workshop was facilitated by ESCWA and AFED (Arab Forum for Environment and Development).

A second training workshop took place in June 2011 to discuss preparations for a national green economy forum in the country.

In these workshops, Mr. Melhem Mansour (project manager of the Department of Development at Greek Orthodox Patriarchate) introduced the Earth Charter and made a presentation called “Ethics of transition towards Green Economy” derived from the report of Earth Charter and Green Economy.  Participants of these workshops were active private sector and SME’s in Syria, in addition to governmental employees.

The Earth Charter was also discussed when Mr. Bashar Zietoun from AFED presented the concept of environmental corporate responsibility during the Green Jobs training session organized by Mr. Mansour.

SAWA project will present the Earth Charter as a reference for CSR strategies in the upcoming national Green Economy Forum to be held in January 2012.