Spark Ambassador Ann Cathrin Nachtwey writes about the linkages she sees between Spark Sustainability’s mission and the principles outlined in the Earth Charter. She offers us a look at a philosophy that she thinks could help bring about a brighter future for all of us – and explains why it’s linked to climate action.
“As a Spark Ambassador living in the Netherlands, I’ve had the opportunity to look around Europe for more initiatives like Spark Sustainability that have a mission that inspires. But before I tell you more about my connection to Spark Sustainability and the organisation called Earth Charter International, I first would like to shortly introduce myself.
My name is Ann Cathrin Nachtwey (21), and I am living and studying in the Netherlands. Born and raised in Germany, I always knew that I wanted to work, travel and live in multiple countries around the world. My decision to continue my educational journey in the field of Global Project and Change Management, was therefore my first step following up on this promise. Eager to challenge and redefine the current societal norms, I wish to help promote a new value system, leaving no one behind. This hopeful idea of a harmonised form of social togetherness also led me to the two organisations, I wish to tell you more about.
During my first year of study, I coincidently found and got in touch with the then just founded start-up company Spark Sustainability. With the intention of applying for an internship position, I was kindly invited to join the Spark ambassadorship programme instead. Grateful for the invitation and opportunity to connect with a network of like-minded individuals, I joined a warm-hearted community of inspiring change makers.
Standing behind the company’s mission of making climate-friendly lifestyles the new standard, us ambassadors try to spark awareness in our direct environments. Off or online, we wish to inspire and enable people to act and follow the collective movement for sustainable change. Thanks to our community hangout calls, we also have the possibility to openly share and talk about our ideas and personal experiences on topical issues.
Around the same time I reached out to Spark, I first familiarised myself with the sixteen principles of the Earth Charter framework. While I had known about the internationally recognised declaration for a long time, reading the Earth Charter made a valuable difference. The thoughtfully formulated guidelines about how to foster a more resilient and inclusive world community, not only opened my eyes, but, simultaneously, provided me a handbook to live by. Besides being of personal value, the Earth Charter is also used “as a basis for peace negotiations, as a reference document in the development of global standards and codes of ethics, as a resource for governance and legislative processes” and an educational tool for awareness raising activities (Earth Charter, History).
Looking back, I remember feeling speechless and overwhelmed at first, until that same feeling turned into hope and empowerment to bring the principles alive. With the urgency of taking on responsibility for our very own decisions and actions — for ourselves, others and the greater environment — I realised that the declaration lays the ethical foundation needed to bring forth lasting sustainable change. Yet, two decades after the document was officially launched in 2000, the blueprint is still not at the core of our social, economic, and political actions. Knowing that only together we can challenge the norm, I decided to commit to the Earth Charter initiative, join the Earth Charter Young Leaders programme, and help to advocate the principles.
Since the official launch, the Earth Charter has gained attention and recognition on an international scale. With a growing network of supporters and advocates, the initiative is increasingly gaining ground and pushing forward collaborative commitments for sustainable development. The guiding principles in the field of
1. Respect and care for the community of life,
2. Ecological integrity,
3. Social and economic justice and
4. Democracy, nonviolence, and peace,
thereby challenge while, at the same time, encourage us to see things from different perspectives. With an engaging vision, the Earth Charter emphasises a holistic view, with the relevant morals and norms needed for a more just, sustainable and peaceful future for all. Yet, it’s upon us, individuals worldwide, to commit and join the ambition to make a climate friendly lifestyle the new normal. Thus, in my opinion, together with Spark Sustainability, we could link the Earth Charter’s principles to concrete climate actions that lead the way forward to putting our shared values into practice.
With Spark’s smart climate actions in our minds and the Earth Charter in our hearts, I truly believe that large-scale collective change is possible, and will happen. Moreover, following and embracing the global principles will allow us to speak the same language and come together for lively dialogues across nations and continents. Therefore, by seeing the connection between our everyday life choices inspired by the Carbon Donut app, and possible contribution to greater transformational change captured in the principles, we can turn challenges of the present into hopeful opportunities of tomorrow. Conclusively, with the world laying in our hands, only by taking responsibility and aligning our actions on the bases of the same ethical framework, we can change the face of the world.
Being gratefully given the space to express my enthusiasm and aspiration to bring Spark’s mission and the Earth Charter’s vision together, I wish to encourage you to read the declaration and spark the values — wherever you are, wherever you go — with us. It’s upon us, here and now, to align our decisions and actions to a new value proposition for transformational change."
Consumption (pink): I'm conscious about my consumption choices and, therefore, only purchase what I really need or find great joy in.
Food (yellow): I'm vegan because a plant-based diet feels most natural to me and my body.
Flying (light green): While I very much enjoy flying over the last two years I've managed to replace flights with train rides. However, I know that it might not take long until my wonderlust makes me travel again to far away destinations.
Transport (dark green): Currently, I don't have a car and I rarely use public transport. I'm lucky that I can easily take most of my trips by bike or foot. Here in the Netherlands, thanks to well-developed bike paths, cycling and inline skating have become my daily means of transport.
Heating (light red): I'm trying to reduce heating as much as possible. Yet, a warm apartment is what makes the cold seasons so cosy and homely.
Electricity (dark red): With many windows and few electric devices, I manage to keep my electricity usage comparably low.