Keys Training in Portugal: Happy paticipants from Portugal, Netherland and Germany.

Keys for the Future
It was mainly young people, in their thirties, who showed us what steps
they have taken to act on the Earth Charter. This struck me during the last
round of our four-day event. We talked about our work, our concerns, about
working with young people, not all of whom see a hopeful future ahead of

We were gathered at an old farm, Casa Velha, not far from Fatima, where
the next generation of owners is working on a new harvest. Olive trees, cork
oaks and grapes once grew there, but due to the disastrous policies of
Europe, many beautiful small businesses became hopeless, bought up by
strangers who were rich enough to turn them into bogus farms and fancy
country houses of European grants, while large-scale farm properties
became the norm thanks to billions of European subsidies. The vines were
gone and the old barrels in the wine barn stood empty. Only the cork oaks
remained at Casa Velha. Once every nine years, the bark is carefully peeled
off without harming the trees’ growth. After the death of their parents, the
new generation of the family had found a new field to cultivate: offering
guests shelter to come and harvest clarity and wholeness in the rural
It was striking that many KEYS-participants, who are all working with
young people, mainly do so from the perspective of the Earth. The wonder
about life in the water, the growth of trees, the artistry with which
butterflies and birds have developed, the joy of life. This happened, for
example, in the form of land art with stop motion films; seeing, knowing and
representing a tree; or investigating aquatic life in a nearby river. In this
way, we inspired each other with examples of strengthening and protecting
life, wherever it is threatened, to be better equipped to fight against this
Even the most powerful of Earth’s threats are concerned with the beauty of
living nature, even as they seek to make it their personal property or even
regard it as their lucrative property.
With everything that the Earth Charter offers us in terms of perspective to
return to the joyful celebration of life, restoring the web of life has the
highest priority, was our conclusion. And it is a positive action: don’t hold
back but offer space. That is what the Earth Charter was drawn up for. And
often recovery is not necessary, because if we no longer hinder nature, it
will happen automatically.

For this we should use the billions in subsidies for energy and agriculture.
In my mind I looked ahead to the future of Earth Charter. It was clear to the
participants in Portugal: the foundation of change lies in the preservation
and restoration of nature. Not sustainability, but liveability. The rest of the
goals will follow automatically. Not by being dumbfounded by AI, but by
common sense, distinctiveness, progressive insight, sharing experiences,
but above all by love for life. How wonderful to see that in the participants
of this beautiful KEYS-project, eyes start shining when sharing experiences,
despite what some have already encountered as hardship in their lives.
When nature restores itself within us, our hand finds what to do.

Dick de Groot

Photos from Angelika Schroers and Khemais Barienti from the Keys Training in Portugal from the 6.-9. of March 2024 in Ourém, Portugal

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *