World Environment Day was June 5, but not a mouse was stirring about this huge date.
In the late ‘60s, ecologists from scientifically and technologically advanced nations were the first to raise the warning signal about the need to care for our one and only living planet. The United Nations Stockholm Conference, June 5, 1972, was the starting point of organized efforts to deal with environmental problems and the urgent necessity of preventive global actions.
The conference found that the dangerous signals of the physical and social environment included super consuming levels, irregular wealth distribution and varied pollution levels. The actions to solve these should tend to rise the ‘healthy ecological levels of the planet’ improving the physical and spiritual conditions of our relationship with Earth. The U.N. Belgrade Charter in 1975 went further by setting a global educational program in new socioeconomic goals:
“The declaration of U.N. for a new economical order calls to consider a new type of development, one that takes into account the needs of every citizen of the world, the pluralism of societies and the harmonic equilibrium between mankind and nature. It is necessary to eradicate the causes that generate poverty, famine, pollution, lack of basic education, exploitation and domination.
“The natural resources must be developed in such a way for all people to benefit from them for a better quality of life.
“This new type of development requires permanent peace through the cooperation and coexistence among nations with different social systems. In order to face all these basic needs the restriction of military budgets and the reduction of the armament manufacturing should be achieved. Disarmament should be the final goal.
“Millions of individuals must adjust their personal priorities and assume a global ethics reflecting the compromise for a better environment and life as a whole.” “The reform of educational systems and processes is crucial to build up this new environmental ethics for a better development for all.”
Really, this sounds so updated for today. I translated this original material from UNESCO/UNEP way back then. Now the U.N. urgently is trying to put into action their Sustainable Goals for 2030. Anyone interested in “The lazy person’s guide to help the planet”?
We are quite lucky here in the Happy Valley. Indeed, the wonderful passage of the seasons, each still displaying a delight of color, textures and ways, this multitude of life around “makes all the world kin,” as Shakespeare said. And the awesome variety of “green” people and groups in full action for their communities delivers hope and peace for nature now and here and beyond. We still can see “the world in a grain of sand. A heaven in a wild flower. To hold infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour,” as William Blake put it. We see and deeply appreciate the beauty of Mother Earth around, locally and globally. And we want to keep it alive!
I and many others still have a dream, the dream of a global environmental ethics in decision makers. It is not only us, quality commoners, who can do a lot to preserve the natural world (and we are one with it), and are doing it, but it is the ones taking big decisions for us who must seize the day and be tuned up to the natural world; they could honestly do more and better to heal our beautiful blue spaceship here and now. Some truly have to learn to see beyond their precious power pin and hence act. Or what’s their mea$ure? Some do a lot, but much more is vitally needed in every field of human activity, especially in decision making with a broad outlook for nature. As the poet W.B. Yeats said, “Tread softly, because you tread on my dreams.”
Education is key, time is of the essence and we all are making history with our experiences and memories for the future. As educators, we cultivate the seeds of love and care all the way through for every season of life; that is, for learners, families, community, country, nation, world and natural world. In fact, I was at the start of the most important and worldwide educational strategy that includes these aspects, the Ecoshools, in the Summit of Rio, 1992. And it is in full force today!
We teach with a hopeful smile and wisdom, we believe in effective ideas, good decisions, service and engagement, also noble traditions and healthy competences, with soft science and technology, with role models at every step. And with healthy soil, air, water and living species to teach about, with a city in solidarity, with the cultural legacy, with more pure thoughts and dreams.
We all share in the great fabric of life. In this countdown for the planet we are still the gardeners of the seasons, the harbingers of the butterfly effect. This is real and so we all can affect change and eternity.
May the green force be with you! May all the seasons of the planet still shine upon you!
Laura Maria Rojo MacLeod is an international environmental activist and educator who lives in Amherst.