EC+10 spirit carried forward!

Plenary 6: Threads of Sustainability
Nov 3, 2010, 9.00am - 11.00am

The plenary session of Day 3 of the EC+10 conference was held in the serene environment of the Sabarmati Ashram on the banks of river Sabarmati, from where Mahatma Gandhi had once orchestrated India 's historic and unprecedented freedom struggle based on the principle of non-violence or Ahimsa.

Raghupati Raghav Rajaram

The morning prayers at Sabamati Ashram were soothing and soulful. Bhajans of all faiths were melodiously sung by a group of singers from the Ashram. It is said that Gandhi derived inspiration from these bhajans . Set against the scenic backdrop of the Ashram with its river and lush greenery, the music was particularly enjoyable. Some of the participants hummed along and clapped to the tune of ‘Raghupati Raghava Rajaram'. This moment was memorable for the sense of togetherness that everyone seemed to be experiencing, which also justified the spirit of the EC.

The panel of speakers at the plenary session included Prof Steven Rockefeller, Chair, Earth Charter International Council; Prof. Mary Evelyn Tucker, Forum on Religion and Ecology and Earth Charter International Council; Rabbi Seotendorp, Earth Charter Commissioner; Vishwaguru Paramhans Swami and little Avatarpuri representing Yoga for Daily Life; Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Art of Living; Sister Valerine Bernard representing the Brahma Kumaris; Michael Slaby of the Jacob Soetendorp Institute for Human Values; Kartikeya Sarabhai, Director, Centre for Environment Education and Tridip Suhrud from the Sabarmati Ashram.

Aptly titled ‘threads of sustainability', the plenary session was initiated by Rabbi Seotendorp who said that the key to unlock most challenges lay in dialogue. He handed out threads of handspun khadi to the dignitaries on the dais , asking each one to speak of their vision for future, pledge to do one thing for sustainability that they had not done before and then exchange the thread with someone at the conference with whom they had not as yet connected with. When Rabbi handed his thread to little Avatarpuri, the boy said,

“Nobody should cut the trees – Nobody should kill and eat – Nobody should sell, buy and drink alcohol. “

Vishwaguru Paramhans Swami started by chanting the Shanti Mantra. He said the thread of sustainability was first received when we were in our mother's womb. We should all remember that we had this connection with mother earth too.

Mary Evelyn Tucker asked everyone to show reverence to all life forms, gratitude for living, and humility for honoring the place of humans in nature. She said Gandhi and his Ashram give this message. Mary asked the audience to learn from Gandhiji's life, and understand the ‘migratory wisdom' that is displayed by birds in nature such as the Red Night Sand Piper.

Sister Valerine Bernard narrating story of her life said that it was important to take the inner journey (of self contemplation). She said that nobody is bad at heart . They are only contaminated by negativity.

Emphasizing that nature is our wealth and that it was not right to harm nature, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar urged the audience to protect and care for it. He said that the Earth Charter shows us the way to do so. He said ‘A heart without compassion and a mind without intuition is a life without satisfaction'.

Rockefeller concluded by remembering Kamala Chaudhuri and her immense contribution towards drafting of the EC for a more sustainable world. It was generally acknowledged that there was much to learn from Gandhi and Nature. Thus the threads were symbolically exchanged along with the message to join hands to save the planet.

A Happy Dhanteras - Wishes from Sri Sri

Pointing out that the day was auspicious on account of the Indian festival which celebrates prosperity, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar wished everybody a happy Dhanteras. He said abundance begets abundance and this can be understood in terms of caring for the earth.

He said he was very happy to be at the Ashram because of his deep personal connections with it through his grandparents. His grandfather had lived at the Gandhi Ashram for 20 years and his grandmother had donated her gold ornaments towards the freedom struggle.

Gandhi and the Earth Charter – Book Launch

The publication, “Earth Charter and Gandhi—Towards a Sustainable World” compiled by Kartikeya Sarabhai, Meena Raghunathan and Amishal Modi was released by Prof. Steven Rockefeller. Largely a compilation of quotes from Mahatma Gandhi, the book explores the links between Gandhian thinking and the EC principles. Rockefeller said that the book was a wonderful gift to the EC and hoped that it would inspire many people.

Plenary 7 & 8 : Future Visions & Conclusions
Nov 3, 2010, 2.00pm - 4.30pm

Weaving a sustainable future

The concluding plenary saw workshop participants weaving through the strands of inspiring ideas / recommendations that they had deliberated over for days. Jim Taylor and Mamata Pandya facilitated this process. They invited workshop representatives to share the key outcomes of their deliberations with the audience. This helped bring together the strands of discussion from each of the workshops contributing to a rich tapestry of inspiring views that will help take the EC forward from Ahmedabad.


Launch Pad

Sustainability principles through the lens of the Earth Charter : Course plan

Alicia Jiminez, ECI Secretariat made an announcement about a special EC course, designed with the aim of understanding the integrated approach of sustainable development using the EC as a framework. It aims to offer a space for students to reflect and discuss the principles of the EC, understand their importance and think about how the EC can be used as a tool to promote sustainable action.

The course contains an introduction to the EC and global ethics and an explanation of interconnectedness, interdependence and systems thinking

MODULE 1 of the course, ‘ Core of EC ethical principles,' advocates respecting Earth and life in all its diversity, caring for the community of life with understanding, compassion and love, democratic societies that are just, participatory, sustainable and peaceful as well as intergenerational justice.

MODULE 2 (Ecological Integrity) deals with the Principles 5, 6, 7 and 8 of the EC that advocate protection and restoration of the integrity of Earth's ecological systems, precautionary principle for environmental protection, sustainable patterns of production, consumption and reproduction, research on ecological sustainability: application and open knowledge exchange.

MODULE 3 (Social and Economic Justice) deals with principles 9, 10, 11 and 12, that includes poverty alleviation, economic activities that promote human development in a sustainable and equitable way, gender equality and equity, universal access to education, health care and economic opportunity and rights for an environment that supports human dignity, bodily health and spiritual well-being, with a focus on indigenous peoples and minorities.

MODULE 4 (Democracy, non violence and peace) deals with principles 13, 14, 15 and 16 and it includes democratic institutions, transparency and accountability in governance, inclusive participation in decision making, Values for sustainability in education processes, respect and consideration for all living beings, concept and practice of a culture of tolerance, non violence and peace.

The concluding part of the course deals with the concept of universal responsibility.

Cultural Mélange

When participants danced to one tune – Garba Evening

The 3 days of deliberations concluded with participants dancing to the beat of the traditional dance of Gujarat —the Garba. The Garba is a colourful and lively feature of Navaratri celebrations in Gujarat . The dance brought everyone together in celebration, illustrating the spirit of unity in diversity in a fitting finale for the EC+10 conference.

On the eve of the festival of light, CEE wishes everybody a happy and joyous Diwali and a prosperous New Year

Credits:
Editing:
Prithi Nambiar

Contributions:
Shailaja Ravindranath, Rajeshwari Namagari Gorana, Meena Nareshwar, Aparna Nahar, Sangeeta Rane, Shriji Kurup

Design & Layout:
Jogendra Singh Rajora,Sangeeta Rane, Biji Nair

Photographs:
Mahendra Khalasa, Nimisha Misra, Chehek Bilgi, Sangeeta Rane, Shekher Kanagali

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Workshops @ EC+10

The initial days of the workshops saw the presentation of many case studies and examples of how the Earth Charter can be used in developmental projects, formal education, non formal education, business, urbanization and many other sectors. After two days of deliberations, discussions and debates, participants from all 10 workshops summarized their view points and recommendations in the final session on day 3.

Workshop 1 : School Education and Teacher Training

Recommendations

•  The EC should not be seen merely as a tool for intellectual development but also as a tool for the development of the whole child - head, heart and hand.

•  EC principles must be infused into national curriculum and teacher education

•  EC must inform business, trade and production systems

•  EC should be a tool to inform the communities through schools (school to community programmes)

•  EC needs to be integrated into other educational discourses

•  Human rights and responsibilities, as visualized in the EC, need to be an integral part of the school and teacher education systems

EC in DESD and RIO +20

•  More emphasis on joyful, playful, festive celebrations to promote EC principles.

•  EC should be much more holistic in approach rather than reductionist while providing a focus for activities, projects and programmes with community involvement.

•  EC could help address the needs of youth who are preparing for careers if EC principles are brought into business schools and entrepreneurship programmes

•  More EC based conferences for youth could provide access to expertise in business, health, community issues, etc.

Workshop 2 : Higher Education - Towards a Responsible Future

Recommendations

•  The leadership of institutions and organisations needs to address the EC

•  The EC is a fundamental critic of the capitalistic system

•  Develop research that helps to evaluate progress towards EC goals and is linked to traditional cultural knowledge and values

•  Minimize the impact of the consumerist culture, to properly address the North-South divide

•  Include teachers and students from rural areas in the EC process

Fight for our right to space


We need to fight for space
- said Sunita Narain of CSE, Delhi . Talking about issues relating to the utilization of roads, she said that it was important for the public to fight for the right to have pavements to walk on as well as mass transportation systems, rather than allow roads to be dominated by private and luxury vehicles. Who needs the space most? This is an ethical fight that people have to be a part of, she said.

Workshop 3 : Non Formal Education

Recommendations

•  Promote EC through art and folk forms in the non formal sector

•  Use the internet media to reach out to communities to break the digital divide

Workshop 4 : Reviewing , Rethinking and Reorienting ICTs for ESD

Recommendations

•  ICTs should be used to promote the spirit of EC

•  EC communications should be handled professionally and strategically

•  Mobile phone technologies can be inventively used in communicating the EC.


Workshop 5 : Business and CSR in a Green Economy

Recommendations

•  Use the EC as an inspirational document when reviewing the vision, mission and strategic objectives of business while incorporating its principles into the organization's values

•  True CSR, includes transparency, accountability and no corruption

•  Business should create capacity: build human capital based on knowledge and sustainable development

•  The Annual Sustainable Report must show hard data including parameters such as better income distribution.

•  Dialogue among stakeholders should follow the four principles of the EC.


Workshop 6 : The EC & Religion, Spirituality and Ethics

Recommendations

•  Compassion or tolerance to every person and religion and plenty of intercultural dialogue

•  More awareness and sensitivity about every action

•  People must come together to make a healthy world

Workshop 7: Cities, Communities and Urbanization


Recommendations

•  There is a need to recognize that the urban and rural contexts are inseparably bound in an integral system that affects all aspects related to their sustainability. At the same time, decentralized locally relevant approaches recognizing the diversity of viewpoints, cultures and ways of life must be applied in order to achieve sustainable ways of living.

•  The global environment is greatly affected by the outlook and activities of the corporate profit-making ethic. This needs to be ethically questioned and politically addressed.

•  The need to frankly and openly acknowledge that there exists a politics of exclusion which affects large sections of urban populations, equity and participation of all segments of citizenship in the process of decision-making is vital to achieve sustainability.


Workshop 8 : Ethical Development Practices on Sustainable Livelihoods – Issues and Concerns

Recommendations

•  EC principles can help promote human dignity

•  Sensitivity and awareness about EC needs to be promoted

•  Traditional knowledge must be respected

•  Equity and participation is necessary for inclusive development.

Workshop 9: Global Challenges and Global Governance

Recommendations

•  EC values must be integrated into global governance through civil societies

•  Engage EC in the preparatory process of Rio +20

•  Get EC recognized by the UN

•  UN members must deliberate on an ethical framework for ESD


Workshop 10 : Biodiversity and Ethics

Recommendations

•  Acknowledge the diversity of life as a value in itself and strengthen the actions that show respect towards all life forms and ecosystems, to maintain their integrity.

•  Acknowledge and respect the traditional and indigenous ways of life, recognizing the fact that these are dynamic.

•  Acknowledge equity as an important value and look primarily at the ethical concern regarding access and benefit sharing (ABS) and that it is important to document the learnings from ABS case studies towards mainstreaming them by way of planning processes.

Voices from the workshops

Even if one cannot build a future for youth, one can certainly build youth for the future

There is no sadder scene on earth than the sight of a young pessimist

Sustainability is the biggest business opportunity we will ever have

It is not difficult to do the right things, but it is difficult to know what is right.

Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam -All the world is one family – An ancient Sanskrit saying

We have to be the change, we have to make a beginning.

Voices from the Youth

•  Reduce the gaps between formal and non-formal education

•  Religious gurus should provide the young with a better understanding of spirituality

•  Language should not be a barrier to communication. One must not forget that all sections of society and all people engaged in different occupations and services need an ethical framework to work towards sustainable development

•  Ethics should come from within

•  The EC can help us capture learning from everyday experiences.