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Live from Marrakesh!



As the 3000 plus environmental educators poured into the Moroccan hotels, the energy level rose with the temperatures. Marrekesh, hosting the 10th anniversary World Environmental Education Congress this year, opened her arms with a smile, despite long lines, overbooked events, a paperless congress with attendant logistical confusion, and slow internet access. The organizers got 3 times the number of attendees than anticipated which only confirms the interest and importance of the discussion on creating sustainable learning structures around the world. 


Opened by UNEP's leader Achim Steiner, Irina Bokova, General Director of UNSCO and other dignitaries, and hosted by Her Royal highness Princess Lalla Hasnaa the agenda was both high-powered and non-stop. Many workshops and panel discussions overlapped during the 4 day Congress, interspersed with thematic Plenary sessions each morning. 


As happened at the UNESCO Congress on Culture in Hangzhau last month, ArtDialogue was poised to contribute a unique voice. Not only an "informal education" organization, we are working to bring environmental policy to the table via creative solutions. In empowering the public- via schools, exhibitions, and other events around the globe- we are pushing the discussions on not only what to teach, but how to teach in new and sustainable systems. During the NGO forum, as ArtMill's Director I was able to present and speak with dozens of other NGO's from across the globe on issues from women's access to credit for sustainable jobs, to a fantastic project in italy using theatre to teach school children about sustainable fishing (and eating the fish on their 150,000 lunch plates each week). The Responsible use of waste and hazardous chemicals (our Safe Planet Campaign mandate) are never far from the discussion, as we met many sustainable agriculture teachers, especially Moroccan, who are already practicing in the schools what we believe in.  


There were many inspiring speeches and presentations (see full Congress report on our website), but several stay in my heart: David Orr of Oberlin College in the US, who spoke on the devastating facts of climate change and our carbon future, said that even if halted immediately today, it will still entail a 1000-year 'long emergency' to recover the ecological balance of the planet . Wangari Maathai's daughter, who now runs the Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies in Nairobi, spoke of what she calls "Pragademics"- an approach to environmentalism that is less theoretical and more praxis. Gunther Pauli, of "Blue Economy" fame, who gave an impassioned, creative  presentation reminded us that when we talk about finite resources of the planet, he who "steals 'less' is still a thief". He ended on an upbeat metaphor that perhaps brought home the feeling of this colorful and inspiring gathering of great minds and hearts.  "I like to view the glass not as half full or half empty, but full of both water AND air".


"We are in a race between education and catastrophe". HG Wells


2013-06-14 - 20:04:00  by barbarabenish

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