The Earth Charter is a call to action and holistic guide for all human activity on the planet. The way forward for humanity is an awakening, an evolutionary leap in our collective consciousness – and education is key.
During the days of September 23 – 26 the Ekskäret Foundation hosted the meeting of Networking of European Education Initiatives Dedicated to Global Sustainability (NEEDS) on the island. The network of seven European partner organizations from Bulgaria, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Spain, and Sweden participate in an initiative to expand Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) within European networks utilizing the Earth Charter in adult education. The NEEDS program has provided transnational trainings 2020- 2022, with the exchange of ESD methodologies through open dialogues and learning circles – all inspired by the Earth Charter.
The invitation to hold the final NEEDS coordinator meeting at Ekskäret Island is a result of Green Cross Sweden work in the last two decenniums to bring forth the Earth Charter within diverse sectors of Swedish society. This specifically within leadership circles, and inspired by Indigenous wisdom. While the final NEEDS coordinators meeting, Ekskäret Island brought participants to the experience of nature as the classroom, and Mother Earth the greatest teacher herself. The Earth Charter provides a roadmap to help align our human activity to the laws of nature, and where actually being in a living natural environment can transform the theoretical into a real experiential understanding.
The Ekskäret meeting culminated the coordination and assessment of the project between which began in 2020. The gathering in Sweden also gave space for reflective circles bringing forth collaborative dialogue and inspiration to cultivate future collaboration for educational projects in the European network. A consensus was that it is time for Europe and networks worldwide to work outwardly to further elevate the Earth Charter to the frontlines of movements, and education for the transition to a sustainable future. In our calling as educators within a planetary crisis the empowerment of youth is vital. As Grian Cutanda, from the Avalon project in Spain termed it we need to cultivate a “radical hope”. The antidote to despair and anguish is action, and where real change begins from within the heart of humanity, from within ourselves.
The meeting reflected on how the Earth Charter provides a foundation to build a sustainable future bridging other initiatives and documents, such as the SDGs and IDGs. The charter acts as a catalyst or connector with our inner development or awareness, to an action-oriented roadmap towards transformational society. The Earth Charter is a holistic tool to help us navigate, and light up the connection that our inner vales, or mindset, are equivalent to our actions and collective impact on the planet.
During the European meeting a silent minute was held to honor the passing of Mikhail Gorbachev, who together with the late Maurice Strong, led the international work to help establish the founding of the Earth Charter.
Hosting the meeting from the Swedish team was Tonia Moya, Göran Gennvi, Erena Rangimarie Rhöse, Stuart Pledger, Janna Krumm and Thor Ahlstrand. Through the Green Cross the team has many years of experience working in diverse networks with the Earth Charter, as a strategic tool for decision-making. Attending the NEEDS meeting were the following representatives of Earth Charter Affiliates: Alide Roerink (The Netherlands), Denis Kupsch (Germany), Grian A. Cutanda and Marta Ventura (Spain), Anca Bunea (Romania), and Alexandra Seabra (Portugal).
The Networking of European Education Initiatives Dedicated to Global Sustainability is a transnational initiative funded by the programme ERASMUS+ of the European Union. Green Cross Sweden is a national organization of the Green Cross International founded by Mikhail Gorbachev, and has since the start been a trailblazer promoting the Earth Charter for a sustainable future, working together with municipalities, business and leadership circles, educational institutions, and youth.
Green Cross Sweden – www.green-cross.se
Earth Charter International – https://earthcharter.org/
Networking of European Education Initiatives Dedicated to Global Sustainability – http://earthcharter.eu/
Green Cross International – www.gcint.org
“We must awaken humanity to the environmental crisis on Earth. We must change from within, our consciousness. We must work together with all sectors of society and over international borders.
― Mikhail Gorbachev
“I believe in the cosmos. All of us are linked to the cosmos. So, nature is my god. To me, nature is sacred. Trees are my temples and forests are my cathedrals. Being at one with nature.”
― Mikhail Gorbachev