Current global developments and crisis are creating an atmosphere of insecurity and uncertainty within the European society. We know from work experience that the Earth Charter, an international and UNESCO recognized declaration of fundamental ethical principles for global sustainable development, provides motivating and solution-oriented approaches at various levels to deal with this growing insecurity. The Earth Charter educational work enables different perspectives on the world and its global challenges. It offers practical options for action and provides answers to the above mentioned insecurities and opens rooms for a conscious change in thinking and behavior towards global sustainability.
In 2020 the Earth Charter turns 20 and so does the information and education work based on the Earth Charter. Around the globe education institutions and professionals felt inspired by the holistic and positive vision of a peaceful, solidary and sustainable world and embedded it into their practices in many different ways to address Education for sustainable development (ESD) and global learning.
NEEDS aims to link seven European institutions working with the Earth Charter in adult education. We want to exchange on examples of our ESD concepts, which we have established in the last two decades and successfully applied within our countries. Beside the exchange on practical ESD concepts and evaluation on how to implement newly learned in our organization work, we want to address questions such as: How do we best address and transport the inherent ethics in our ESD work? What is the best way to share the strengthening and motivating vision of the Earth Charter to adults? How can we adapt our education concepts to changing global and European challenges as well as digital and societal developments now and in future?
To meet those objectives we plan to run three short 3-day trainings in (1) Germany, (2) The Netherlands, and (3) Portugal to which all partners will send two ESD practitioners from their organization for participation (total number of trained educators will be 14), whereas the host organizations will involve their local volunteers active in Earth Charter education and campaigning. The training events will be on (1) the background, history and ethics of the Earth Charter and how to use this to train multiplicators, (2) on the visionary potential of the Earth Charter and how to practically use it for the implementation of the SDGs, and (3) on concrete ESD and global learning formats with the Earth Charter and communication techniques.
To successfully link the partners, monitor the progress of the project and implementation of results within our organizations as well as for a joint round up, there will be three transnational meetings in Romania, Bulgaria and Sweden to which each partner organization will send one national coordinator.
Long term benefits
Since each partner organization has build unique expertise in successful ESD methods, participating organizations will build a strong network rich in experience and educators will exchange on a diverse portfolio of best practice concepts. The latter will be enabled to incorporate the learned into their own professional educational activities as well as to train other interested educators or volunteers within partner organizations or outside in community councils, cultural or educational centers, even universities. By networking transnationally the partner organizations will become more visible at national, European and international level, particularly within the ESD and global learning community.
During the project we will train fourteen ESD and global learning educators in creative and innovative approaches and concepts based on the Earth Charter. By gaining key qualifications educators will be enabled to impart shaping skills and to use methods that encourage their final target groups who more easily and reliably assimilate the transmitted knowledge. It will thereby involve educators in the design and implementation of ESD and SDG.
The exchange on good practice examples of ESD and global learning concepts during training events and transnational meetings will positively influence the functioning and development of each partner organization. Thereby the project will result in new initiatives to support local communities, civil society organizations, educational or cultural centers, and to improve the knowledge of the final target groups addressing their values and needs.
With the value-centered visionary ideas of the Earth Charter, the European ESD practitioners as well as their target groups will be integrated into a global movement of sustainability, develop a conscious way of life and face the challenges of building new structures for a world community based on partnership and capable of facing the future, and perceive their own contribution. This is particularly important in the current challenging social/socio-cultural developments in Europe with fear of “the foreign” and many stereotypes. The Earth Charter opens up an approach to our development policy education work that is inherent in justice, multi-dimensionality, holistic thinking and dialogue-based on partnership at every level.
The project will, therefore, contribute to more co-responsibility and sustainability in everyday private and political life and in intercultural and interreligious coexistence. We will deepen the understanding of different living conditions, different perspectives and global contexts as well as strengthening intercultural competence, communication and cooperation skills, empathy, ways of conflict resolution and international cooperation based on partnership.
The holistic Earth Charter approach of participating organizations on education for global sustainability makes global interdependences imaginable and tangible by presenting and changing situations. Using interactive methods, participants have the opportunity to question and experience political action and its effects in a concrete way. With central content such as the climate justice, biodiversity crisis, resource use and rights, commons, fleeing (causes) and exemplary references to other current environmental, social and development policy areas, we offer a wide range of topics. Thereby, we will illustrate the interplay of aspects essential to us. It is particularly important for us to enable an experience on how current environmental, economic, societal and political developments effect the target groups and their lives. The participants recognize connections and find their own attitudes and priorities in dealing with the values of the Earth Charter. The issues raised become concretely comprehensible.
On a macro level and in the long term, the project will enhance an ethically profound and awareness-raising debate on current development and sustainability issues in Europe. This will be ensured by the continuous work of the partner organizations and the trained educators, as well as the resulting online content, including examples on best practices in ESD and global learning, at the project and partner websites as well as the facebook pages. In addition, another key result will be stabilized for future synergies: a new European network of organizations and educators exchanging on best practice formats of ESD and global learning based on the Earth Charter.
NEEDS is innovative, since it enables participating organizations and educators to exchange on and bring together three main aspects, which are core for education for global sustainable development: formulating an ethical basis, developing a vision of a sustainable world, and transporting both within action-oriented educational methods.
In our training we focus on the development of creative skills, combine established as well as innovative and digital methods. We promote the motivation to work for the realization of this vision through the positive and visionary approach of the Earth Charter and through the empowering exchange with similarly minded people with various European backgrounds. Using the holistic Earth Charter approach on education for global sustainability and intercultural networking, we respond to global sustainability problems and challenges, inequalities and crises caused by unsustainable development processes. In doing so, we continue the international social dialogue process of the Earth Charter’s creation on shared values of sustainable development.
By sharing creative and innovative best practice methods and experiences in ESD and global learning between the educators from participating European partners, we will provide tools to address the Agenda 2030 and enhance the implementation of the SDGs in Europe.
The trained educators and participating ESD organizations will use and implement their gained competences and built capacities in their regular ESD work and increase the number of trainers involved to enable multiplication of the innovative, action-oriented and value-centered Earth Charter approach to a wide target group.
By addressing and integrating different target groups with their different social, cultural and religious backgrounds, the educational work on the basis of the Earth Charter addresses sustainability issues from different perspectives and with different focal points. NEEDS thus contributes to raising awareness of the fact that climate change and natural disasters as well as globally unfair trade relations contribute to poverty and hunger worldwide through local consumption and are increasingly a cause of fleeing. Furthermore, the Earth Charter and its development process are an inspiring example of how people from different cultural and spiritual/religious backgrounds can enter into a peaceful and fruitful dialogue at eye level, taking all perspectives into account.
A significant added value is the intergenerational integration: Through the variety of applied Earth Charter methods as well as different ways of addressing and networking, young people could be involved in the design and implementation of ESD and SDGs in interaction with older generations. Through this involvement of younger and older people in the joint advocacy for a solidary and sustainable world in the sense of the Earth Charter, they can face global crises and challenges with greater strength – and we can win them over as multiplicators in our educational work.
They will be publicly available and will be reproduced within the pool of volunteers and active member of the participating organizations as a source of inspiration for new initiatives.