UN Earth Day 2013 conference – a reflection by Lucy Brown

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UN Earth Day conference photo 18

UN Earth Day conference -with PeterR- photo 13

all photos kindly taken and shared by Dik Ng – many thanks

UN Earth Day conference photo 1

“International Mother Earth Day is a chance to reaffirm our collective responsibility to promote harmony with nature at a time when our planet is under threat from climate change, unsustainable exploitation of natural resources and other man-made problems. When we threaten the planet, we undermine our only home – and our future survival. On this International Day, let us renew our pledges to honour and respect Mother Earth.”

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Message for the International Mother Earth Day

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UN Earth Day conference photo 16

Every year on April 22nd the United Nations (UN) calls on us all, the citizens of our world, to celebrate the Earth. It seems like a fairly reasonable request, that one day out of the 365 we get each year we pause and reflect. We think about our home, this blue and green planet where we ALL live.

In 2013 a decision was made to rename the day International Mother Earth Day. This makes a welcome reference to Mother Nature, the life giving force. In a similar way that we all came into being through a mother, all of life comes into being through Mother Nature. She is the reason we exist! And She gives a bountiful planet with many resources for us to use. They vital thing is not to squander these gifts. The aim is to live a balanced life, in harmony with the rest of nature – a big amazing ecosystem which us humans are just one part.

On Saturday the 20th of April Canterbury Christ Church University hosted the annual Canterbury UN Earth Day conference. This event is the result of collaboration by several groups based in Canterbury: the UNA, Abbot’s Mill Project, C4E (Canterbury 4 Environment) and CCCU. Around 50 people and 20 exhibition stall-holders attended the session, which consisted of a lecture in the morning and workshops in the afternoon. There was also time for networking, as well as checking out the exhibition of stands showing numerous pro-environmental projects taking place all across Canterbury District.

The day was split into two main themes: global in the morning and local in the afternoon.  Stephen Hockman QC delivered a insightful lecture on the purpose on an international environmental court. In the afternoon there were three subgroups discussing issues surrounding 1. Society, education & community, 2. Infrastruction, (buildings and transport), and 3. Wildlife & nature.

Feedback from the Nature group discussion can be found here:

http://www.greeninformation.co.uk/events/wildlife_and_the_natural_environment_session_at_un_earth_day_2013_by_sue_davis/

Food was provided by the Pulse Café, normally based in Sittingbourne and run by the SkillNet Group. Those vegan cakes were absolutely delicious! They completely sold out. Other food and all hot drinks (although the sun was shining, it was rather chilly) were provided by CCCU’s Touchdown café. These went down a treat.

Also in attendance was a local researcher, from CCCU’s neighbours up the hill, UKC (University of Kent at Canterbury), called Harry Woolner who managed to interview several conference attendees about bees.

It was a great day, and thoroughly educational. I am particularly excited about the possible partnerships with the NHS Trust in Kent, making use of their extensive land as shared spaces for people and local wildlife together.

If you are interested in helping out organising next year’s conference, please email Shelia Kesby of the United Nation Association, Canterbury Branch on: s.kesby339 [at] btinternet.com or Jo Kidd of the Abbot’s Mill Project: jo.kidd [at] abbotsmillproject.co.uk

Also, please be welcomed to join the C4E group! Next group meeting is at CCCU, on the 23rd of May email sustainability@canterbury.ac.uk for more details.

Biographies of speakers and list of the stall-holders:

http://www.greeninformation.co.uk/events/un_earth_day_2013/

UN International Mother Earth Day:

http://www.un.org/en/events/motherearthday/

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