Govind Singh, DelhiGreens.org and I were among 71 youth participants from India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Germany, Spain, United States of America, Sri Lanka among others, who came together on a pre-conference workshop at the Centre for Environment Education (CEE) campus in Ahmedabad. This workshop was held to strategise youth involvement at the 3 day conference (Ethical Framework for a sustainable world) that followed. Participants comprised of students enrolled in different undergraduate and graduate programmes. Both Govind and I, were invited to the conference (also referred to as the Earth Charter plus 10 celebrations) as SAYEN mentors through South Asia Youth Environment Network (SAYEN).
At the pre-conference workshop, following an ice breaking session facilitated by myself and an address by Ms. Madhavi Joshi, Programmes head at CEE later, Mr. Steven Rockefeller, Chair, Earth Charter International Council and Mr. Kartikeya V. Sarabhai, Director, CEE chaired an interactive session on the Earth Charter and its relevance today. Mr. Rockefeller also shared on Paul Hawken’s initiative on creation of an open directory of organisations working in peace and sustainable development –WiserEarth. Mr. Sarabhai in turn shared an anecdote on how the little hill (tekra) brought about a small revolution in setting up possibly the first Act for Street Vendors.
This was followed by working group sessions where the youth discussed their reflections on the Earth Charter principles and their expectations from the 10 workshops. Ms. Satwant Kaur, Regional Information Officer, UNEP ROAP helped facilitate the working group session along with the SAYEN mentors. This session allowed for an energetic debate on various issues such as need for proper governance and access to vs. potential of ICTs, a need for consultative process in policy making, the idea of openness to world’s religions and the erstwhile need for spirituality.
The conference spanned over 3 days with 8 different plenary sessions and 10 parallel working group sessions. Notable speakers at the plenary included:
All plenary sessions were multicast live over the internet, with technical backstopping by Heart in Action Enterprises (HIAE), and provided a virtual extension to the conference. The Facebook page and Twitter (#ecplus10india) regularly streamed updates as they happened in different workshops.
The Special Event “Global youth and ICTs: Heart in Action Enterprises and the Earth Charter team up to educate, empower and inspire youth!” set up a virtual dialogue between youth at the conference and select participants from around the world via a secured multicast.
- A separate workshop for the 71 youth involved was not organised in the conference, but youth were asked to contribute into the workshops as facilitators, as volunteers, rapporteurs, participants and organisers.
- An informal youth session each evening allowed youth to reflect and share daily and prepare for the next day. This venue also served as grounds where mentors requested more youth contribution/interest.
- Youth participants/volunteers joined as early as a month ahead worked hand in hand with CEE staff to prepare daily reports which were then made available as ceenario from the conference website. <http://www.ceeindia.org/cee/ecnewsletter/ec_ceenario2.htm>
- The plenary sessions were multicast over the internet to provide a virtual extension.
I took part in the Workshop 4: Reviewing, Rethinking, and Reorienting ICTs for ESDas part of the youth delegation.
On the final day, I was requested by coordinators and participants to present the recommendations from the workshop at the 7th plenary session prior to closing.
The recommendations from the workshop were as follows:
We had about 25 participants deliberating on relevant concerns during the 7 hours. I Utsav Maden, a SAYEN Associate from Nepal take this opportunity of bringing to you key recommendations that participants made for the Earth Charter:
- The Earth Charter is an organic document which needs to be adapted to different social and geographical contexts. We believe that ICT has the potential to share the spirit of the Earth Charter to multitudes of people globally.
- ICTs have made great strides in reaching out to the masses, yet the progress is a bit slow.
- This needs to be accelerated. The Earth Charter needs to have its own ‘media plan’ to do a communication campaign, incorporating the technologies of broadcasting and social media.
- The mobile phone technology has the potential to break social barriers of different kinds- religion, literacy, caste or gender for example. Thus the Earth Charter should promote the use of mobile phone technology for customized access to knowledge and facilitate action for natural resource management.
I am also glad to report that the more recommendations on ICT and Earth Charter made by the participants have been captured through a participatory video.
Photos from the conference
The Youth Workshop
The Youth Corner
The plenary tent
Exhibition by National Green Corps
Informal Youth Sessions at the Conference
The CEE Campus
Virtual Conference with Earth Charter alumni and a brief session with the Rabbi