The first Sustainability School took place in 2007, and was organized by Friends of the Earth Colombia/CENSAT. It set the scene for the School’s future activities by considering the theoretical and conceptual perspectives of the environmental movement, and its actions and development within the economic, political and social contexts of the region. Friends of the Earth Uruguay/REDES then hosted the second Sustainability School in 2008, focusing on Friends of the Earth International’s programs and campaigns, and ATALC’s involvement in them.
In 2009, the Sustainability School moved to Costa Rica. 35 participants joined FoE Costa Rica/COECOCeiba in the community of Juanilama, a rural settlement in the Northern Zone that is home to some 124 campesinos, who grow grains and manage a small forest reserve. The participants - who came from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay - enjoyed the generous hospitality of the community, staying with peasant families for the duration of their visit.
The Sustainability School’s activities were developed collectively and the central theme was the defense of land. In this way, the five-day School aimed to integrate the realities - faced by communities across the region - in to ATALC’s fights and campaigns, including on plantations, forests, biodiversity, food sovereignty, mining, climate change and free trade.
A detailed and colorful report of the meeting was subsequently published, to ensure that the results of the school were accurately recorded and can be shared with others.
ATALC’s member groups and its allies were enriched by the learning and information exchange that took place at the Sustainability School: 35 personnel have deepened their understanding about the social and environmental concerns prevalent in the continent and associated political implications. They now have a much greater understanding of the complex realities of rural life in the region, including its challenges and opportunities.
The strong friendships built during the Sustainability School will also help these new links between member groups to flourish and endure.
The Sustainability School will take place again in 2010, with a new focus, building on and developing its important work to date.
Friends of the Earth Costa Rica, which invited a Costa Rican youth group to participate in the School, is now developing a political partnership and common activities with them.
- Read the report from the school (in spanish)
with thanks to our funders: the isvara foundation