Celebrating 10 years: Australia Pacific Earth Charter Festival
Sunday, October 17, 2010, 12:27 pm | Reported by Sophie Barrington
In celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Earth Charter, the Australia Pacific Earth Charter Festival brought together people from across Australia and the Pacific to share their ideas on climate change.
Since its launch by the United Nations General Assembly on June 29, 2000 the Earth Charter has aspired towards a more just, peaceful and sustainable global society.
Hosted by Earth Charter Australia, the three day festival was run in partnership with the International Day of Peace Alliance, along with the involvement of state government and over 15 community and not-for-profit organisations across Brisbane.
Chair of Earth Charter Australia Clem Campbell said “the tenth anniversary highlights the journey to date, but also the great amount of work to be done.
“The festival focused on our collective ability to respond to climate change, the global financial crisis and regional conflicts, using the values and principles of the Earth Charter as a way forward,” he said.
With a strong focus on the Pacific region, the festival highlighted Australia’s responsibility to respond to the major impacts of climate change affecting island communities.
Several funded delegates from Samoa and Papua New Guinea were able to voice the concerns of those small island nations already struggling with climate change.
Speaking on behalf of Samoa, Fiu Mataese Elisara-Laulu said “many peoples of small island nations have looked to Australia for responsible leadership.
“But it has been found wanting in our contemporary times, as it continues to support and develop global and regional policies that will eventually lead to many environmental refugees as a result of climate change,” he said.
By encouraging dialogue on these issues, Mr Campbell said the Earth Charter Festival recognised “the shared responsibility we have.”
This sentiment was echoed by Earth Charter Committee member Wendy Flannery, who worked closely with the regional delegates.
The festival encouraged Queenslanders to “recognise the impact our lives and decisions at all levels have on other communities, especially those more vulnerable than ourselves,” she said.
In the past, Brisbane has hosted several important events on the Earth Charter, including the Asia Pacific Earth Charter Conference in 2001 and the Earth Charter Dialogues in 2006.
Mr Campbell said “the festival was a continuation of these internationally significant events held in Queensland.
“It highlighted Queensland’s continuing leadership role in promoting sustainable communities,” he said.
The festival also engaged faith groups, multicultural groups and secondary school students through a number of workshops held across South Brisbane.
Convenor of the Living and Breathing Communities workshop Jeff Brunne said “I believe change happens at the level of the very small.”
With a strong focus on Australia’s responsibilities, the workshops focused on “adapting to and mitigating climate change through local initiatives.
“This year’s festival was an opportunity to re-affirm the commitment of people to implement the principles and recommendations of the Earth Charter.
“Bringing together the number of conscientious people and groups that we did, it certainly contributed to this outcome,” he said.
The Earth Charter Festival was closed by a Peace and Sustainability Fair, which is held annually by the International Day of Peace Alliance.
Convenor of the Peace and Sustainability Fair Richard Cowley said “after several days of dialogue and activity it was an opportunity to bring everything to a conclusion.
“It was also an opportunity for not-for-profit organisations and environmental groups to raise their profile amongst the local community.
“We’re part of a global community and we have to find better ways to work with people who are more vulnerable. Until we start to think locally and act globally, what Brisbane has just done through this festival, we just won’t get there,” he said.