Looking forward to new challenges of 2015

By E. Heinrich-Sanchez

Happy New Year!

The scallop shell (concha de vieira) has long been the symbol of the Camino de Santiago. Above is a modern graphic used as a guide mark for pilgrims.

As we are busy with shinnenkai’s (New Year parties) and amidst the stories of humanity’s failing efforts to get our planet back to resilience, there is a glimmer of hope. As we are now in the 70th year since the end of the Pacific War, there is a strong desire for Okinawa’s 21st Century Vision to kick off a Pacific Age from Japan. Affordable renewable energy is the key to Ocean Pacific Peace.

In the first week of 2015 Toyota has announced “The Turning Point” in automotive history by unveiling the MIRAI (Future), the first commercially sold hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicle. As reported by TPM Livewire’s Sahil Kapur’s story last November, retiring Senator Tom Harkin said: “Every dollar that we spend on fossil fuel development and use is another dollar we spent digging the graves of our grandchildren.” The Iowa Democrat told reporters in the Capitol on Tuesday afternoon. “And I’m not going to be a part of it anymore. I’m through. That’s just how strongly I feel.”

“I know we can’t solve it overnight, but we have to be on a steep glide-path in getting rid of fossil fuels as a source of energy,” he added.

Well, Toyota is just in time.  We still need to do what we can to educate our future leaders providing them with the tools and expertise to make this 21st century vision into 22nd century reality. Greed cannot gamble with children’s education.

2015 will prove to be a pivotal year for many things locally and globally. I have been sharing Poinsettias (symbols of success) this season and will continue until the Okinawa SHOGUACHI (Lunar New Year) with prayers for good fortune. On a personal level, my training has begun for a 2017 pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela known as the “Camino” or “Way of St. James” in Galicia, the Celtic region of Spain. For those who are curious about this ancient path please take a look at Emilio Estevez’s movie “The Way” starring his father Martin Sheen whose father was Galician. I saved some locks from my last haircut as an offering and will “let my hair down” until right before my first steps from Barcelona to Santiago. It’s a long haul for body and soul.

My nephew and his wife as Santa’s helpers heard about my plans, and presented me with a “Beachbody Challenge 21 Day Fix”. I guess cleaning beaches has gotten the best of my back, and too many after cleanup BBQ kampais have stayed with my front!! I start TODAY as part of getting ready for the three-month trek. I would encourage all of those “BEACHBODY” coaches to sign up as a team for the “Okinawa Corporate Games”. The deadline has been extended until January 26th. https://okinawa.corporategames.jp/en_index.html

With a new automotive age here, and with catchy motivating slogans like “Get Fit for Business”, “Let’s Do This!” and “21st Century Vision,” I am reminded that we can all benefit if we get our small planet back onto a sustainable path. Please take a look at the “AGENDA 21 AND EARTH CHARTER STRATEGY IN A NUTSHELL!” Let’s use the shovels to bury time capsules not to dig graves.

What is the Earth Charter?

“The Earth Charter is a declaration of fundamental ethical principles for building a just, sustainable and peaceful global society in the 21st century. Although in the Earth Charter there is a special emphasis on the world’s environmental challenges, the Charter is centrally concerned with the transition to sustainable ways of living and sustainable human development. The document’s inclusive ethical vision recognizes that environmental protection, human rights, equitable human development, and peace are interdependent and indivisible.”

So the answer is no, the environment is not the Earth Charter’s primary concern.

From the Earth Charter:

The second to last paragraph of the EC (under the concluding heading, “The Way Forward”) states: “In order to build a sustainable global community, the nations of the world must .support the implementation of Earth Charter principles with an international legally binding instrument on environment and development.”

The last sentence of the Preamble section says: “…we affirm the following interdependent principles for a sustainable way of life as a common standard by which the conduct of all individuals, organizations, businesses, governments, and transnational institutions is to be guided and assessed.”

From a downloadable book called, “The Earth Charter In Action,” for the strategy to implement Agenda 21 and the Earth Charter, see the chapter entitled, “The Significance of the Earth Charter in International Law”, http://www.earthcharterinaction.org/invent/images/uploads/ENG-Bosselmann.pdf

“In terms of international law principles, the Earth Charter represents prima facie a draft legal document…”

“In recent times, soft law has become an important “new” source of international law…. In contrast to “hard law (treaties, customs, general principles), soft law” is not legally binding…”

***** “….the political strength of Agenda 21, another soft law document, has emerged as a powerful document in international environmental law.

Since 1992, Agenda 21 has been recognized and implemented by wide sectors of civil society all around the world. Local governments, small and midsize businesses, educational institutions, and professional organizations have enacted statutes or guidelines for sustainable development, citing Agenda 21 as their main source. This new kind of bottom-up ratification has put enormous political pressure on governments to implement some form of governance for sustainable development. Among all the treaties and international documents promoting sustainable development, none has had as much impact on practice as the soft law Agenda 21.”

****** “The target here is to increase endorsements (in their various forms) up to a point where the Earth Charter reaches a certain omnipresence. This process could lead to its gradual transformation from soft law into a hard law instrument, in much the same way as nascent principles of law gradually gain recognition and status as binding ‘customary’ international law.”

“The Earth Charter qualifies as a founding document for global law. as no other international document has described the failure of states and peoples so clearly and forcefully.”

The Earth Charter website is at http://www.earthcharter.org/ . The FAQ section is at http://www.earthcharterinaction.org/content/pages/FAQ.html#1.

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DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and not those of Japan Update, Ryukyu Press or their employees.

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