“Our relationship with the earth involves something more than pragmatic use, academic understanding, or aesthetic appreciation. A truly human intimacy with the earth and with the entire natural world is needed. Our children should be properly introduced to the world in which they live.” – Thomas Berry
On Monday 22nd of April we will celebrate International Mother Earth Day- a moment to reflect deeply on the wonders of our bounteous planet and to come together around actions to protect our only home from the damages she is currently suffering.
This year, as in previous years, we will be celebrating by tuning in to an international dialogue about Earth Jurisprudence and the Rights of Nature, hosted by our friends at the UN Harmony with Nature Initiative.
This dialogue will be 9th Interactive Dialogue of the General Assembly on Harmony with Nature. Bringing together leading advocates for the health and well-being of Mother Earth from around our living planet, this year’s discussions will focus on placing Mother Earth at the heart of conversations about education and climate change.
Mother Earth and the importance of education lie very much at the heart of all of Gaia’s work. Becoming ‘eco-literate’ once again – being able to ‘read’ Nature’s signs, moods and laws and adapt our behaviours and rules as individuals and societies- is essential to navigating the challenge of climate change. It is incumbent upon us to adapt to our places and live well within Nature’s limits and boundaries.
Gaia has been contributing to a global conversation on this theme by participating directly in the UNHwN’s interactive dialogues since the beginning. On a day-to-day basis, we are supporting communities across Africa to re-build their eco-literacy and re-weave the bonds of intergenerational learning that are so important for the transmission of ancient, yet constantly renewed, ecological knowledge.
Members of the Gaia Team recently returned from Kenya, where the people of Tharaka are on the path to reviving their ecological knowledge, and our award-winning partners SALT are helping young people learn about their traditions and the nature surrounding them, as a way to de-colonise education.
An African Movement for Earth Jurisprudence
For the past five years, Gaia has also been running an immersive training course, recognised by the UN, for budding Earth jurisprudence Practitioners; people from across the continent who are passionate about accompanying traditional and Indigenous Peoples to revive their Earth-centred cultures.
These ‘trainings for transformation’ combine Western and Indigenous ways of teaching to support Practitioners on a journey back to their roots and into closer kinship and understanding with Mother Earth.
The first group graduated from the course in 2017 and have begun to sow the seeds of a pan-African movement for Earth Jurisprudence and Earth-centred governance from the level of the community to the continent.
Here are a few highlights from the movement’s work and growth so far. We invite you to share and celebrate them today, on Mother Earth Day 2019.
African EJ Practitioners convince the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights to adopt a new resolution protecting Sacred Natural Sites, traditional governance and Indigenous rights.
Indigenous communities in Benin advance their work to protect sacred groves and rivers.
African EJ Practitioner Method Gundidza speaks at the UN.
Africa’s first class of Earth Jurisprudence Practitioners graduates in Kenya.
Revival of Indigenous seed, knowledge and sacred sites in Uganda gathers pace.
Reviving Ubuntu: An interview with Gertrude Pswarayi-Jabson, EJ Practitioner in-training
Uganda recognises Rights of Nature in new Environment Act.