“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 Gaia celebrated 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.

This year, as in previous years, we celebrated 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.

Find out more: What is Earth Jurisprudence?

The 9th Interactive Dialogue of the General Assembly on Harmony with Nature brought together leading advocates for the health and well-being of Mother Earth from around our living planet, too discuss how we can place Mother Earth at the heart of conversations about education and climate change.

You can watch the full dialogue as it happened and find out more about this special UN programme here.

Reviving Eco-literacy

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’s Director, Liz Hosken, speaks at the UN. Photo: Gaia

This awareness has been building for years now. We can see it in the emergence of the school climate strikes, extinction rebellion’s demands and international calls for a ‘Green New Deal’ for people and planet- the subject of a Gaia talk over a decade ago.

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 partner organisations helping 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 ABN are helping young people learn about their traditions and the nature surrounding them, as a way to de-colonise education.

Find out more about their journey here.

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.

The first class of Earth Jurisprudence Practitioners graduate. Kenya, 2017. Photo: Gaia

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 with Mother Earth.

The first group graduated from the course in 2017. They are now helping guide 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 with us.

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.

The 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.