From 8 to 14 October, I was in India to attend a number of workshops and meetings organized by the Center for Environment Education (CEE), which is affiliated to the Earth Charter International (ECI), and also visited the Montfort Social Institute, ECI Affiliate, and learned what they are doing in Hyderabad. In Ahmedabad and COP 11
The first two days I was in Ahmedabad visiting the CEE headquarters, meeting with their staff and offering a workshop on the Earth Charter and Education for school teachers. An important local newspaper wrote an article about one of this workshops (find it here
Then we travelled to Hyderabad to participate in the International Conference on Biodiversity Conservation and Education for Sustainable Development, from 13 to 14 October, organized by CEE. The purpose of this effort was to stress that this COP process should really look at the importance of education in the process of implementing CBD and in linking the UN efforts on ESD with Education for biodiversity. This event was attended by about 280 participants.
The outcome document
of this Conference, was shared and discussed with members of COP 11 at a side event on 17th October, 2012, with the participation of the Indian and French Minister of Environment as well as the head of CBD Secretariat. Some of the recommendations emphasize the Earth Charter as an important ethical framework to use in education. Point 17 of this outcome document states:
“Re-affirming the overall goal of the UN DESD, which is to integrate the values inherent in sustainable development into all aspects of learning to encourage changes in behavior towards a more sustainable and just society for all. In this context, we recognize and strongly encourage the promotion and adoption of the Earth Charter as an important ethical framework for sustainable development within the new CBD educational strategy
During this conference I had the opportunity to share about the Earth Charter while chairing a plenary session on ESD and Values which had the participation of Mr. R. Rajamani, former Secretary of Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, Bernard Combes, UNESCO, Esther Kelechi Agbarakwe youth leader from Kenya and India's Leading Biologist Padma Bhushan Dr. P.M. Bhargava, founder and former Director of Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology and Vice Chairman of National Knowledge Commission. This was a very enriching panel that stressed the need of bringing ethical values into education experiences. Judicial Colloquim on Biodiversity
Another important activity where I was able to participate was the Judicial Colloquim on Biodiversity, organized by the Secretariat of the CBD, the IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law (WCEL), UNEP and other partners. In this activity, Kartikeya Sarabhai, CEE Director and ECI Council and I had the opportunity to bring the Earth Charter to the table with Judges of mostly Asian countries and academics from WCEL. This event took place on 13 October. Experiences with Montfort Social Institute
On 11 October, I took the whole day to see the projects of our ECI Affiliate in Hyderabad, the Montfort Social Institute and their Center for Education on Human Rights and Sustainable Development, which is led by Varghese Theckanath, a Upeace alumni.
I felt inspired to see their work especially because they are working on ESD but from a human rights entry point. I actually think this is quite a unique project given that the majority of ESD efforts start from an environmental angle. The Montfort Social Institute has a number of schools in India and also works with this Center that is focused on empowering and supporting underprivileged people in India. For instance, they have a project that is to offer leadership and empowerment workshops for domestic workers in Hyderabad. To complement this, they are also helping the process of drafting stronger national laws to strengthen the rights of domestic workers.
This Center for Human Rights and Sustainable Development Education is also undertaking projects to help communities on their right of housing and also on the basic right for potable water. I saw part of their actions on this topic at the Moosa Nagar Slum Community.
The MSI organized two events where I talked about the Earth Charter, one of them was with students of St. Francis College and the other one Little Flower College, more than 100 students participated in each event. Mirian VilelaDirector
Earth Charter International Secretariat