As a result, Emmaus International organised an international work camp at the end of 2008 to raise the awareness of groups and provide them with training on a key issue for Emmaus.
The Movement chose to devote this information and training seminar to the issue of sustainable development, which the Emmaus groups have been focusing on for a long time.
As the work camp was held in Europe, the Europe Region was involved in its organisation and running.
What is sustainable development?
Sustainable development is defined as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” ( Brundtland Report, 1987 ).
The key idea is to meet mankind’s current and future needs. This involves the current dominant type of development – based on the over-consumption of the planet’s resources which cannot regenerate – being called into question.
Why devote an Emmaus work camp to the issue of sustainable development?
The issue of sustainable development was selected for the 2008 international work camp because it fits perfectly with the Movement’s dynamic. The various social, economic and environmental components of the activities of the groups throughout the world are practical applications of the concept of sustainable development.
In addition, Emmaus’ way of working means that these environmental, social and economic concerns are interlinked. All three aspects play a part in achieving the same objective – building a liveable, fair and viable world, an objective which is the cornerstone of the Emmaus Movement.
“Sustainable development the Emmaus way”: Objectives
The camp’s five initial objectives were:
1/ To better grasp the concept of sustainable development and the issues and challenges involved through debates and case studies.
2/ To evaluate the Movement’s sustainable development practices.
3/ To encourage the groups to make concrete commitments to sustainable development.
4/ To raise young people’s awareness about the issue.
5/ To raise civil society’s awareness via the sale, exhibition and information campaign held in the streets of Lisbon.
The work camp took place from 10th – 18th October 2008 at the University of Lisbon (Portugal).
35 participants from fifteen countries were in attendance: Portugal, Spain, Italy, France, Finland, Sweden, Ukraine, Lebanon, Chile, Uruguay, Burkina Faso, Burundi, South Africa, Benin and India.
The international work camp had three main components:
- Discussions on four issues selected by the Africa, America, Asia and Europe regions , linked to the problems with which they are faced: the right to water, the solidarity economy, the social dimension of sustainable development and uneconomic growth. Each issue was presented by a subject specialist and then discussed in the workshops with the participants.
- An environmental audit of the host community Emmaus Caneças . The idea was to calculate the community’s carbon footprint so as to put forward proposals aiming to improve its sustainable development and environmentally friendly practices. Using this audit as a basis, a guide was drafted for all the Emmaus groups so that they can carry out their own environmental audits.
- A large sale held on the campus by the Caneças Community. The participants also put on an exhibition presenting their own experiences of sustainable development.
Following the workshops on the four issues selected by the regions, participants wanted to put forward practical proposals. Aiming to increase the movement’s commitment to sustainable development, these proposals should be followed by Emmaus groups throughout the world.
- Sustainable development and water
- Run practical water initiatives such as water access for all programmes, a hygiene good practice guide and setting-up latrines.
- Run awareness raising, information and training initiatives for the Movement’s stakeholders, children and young people, and employees.
- Sustainable development and the social dimension
- Encourage the involvement of all the Movement’s stakeholders. Develop the resources and skills of all, create communications tools and spaces, decentralise power within the groups, involve women in the initiatives and run exchanges between the groups (exchanges of practices and companions).
- Start to open up the Movement. Seek economic alternatives (microcredit and time banks), open up groups to their social, political and institutional environment and incorporate diversity.
- Sustainable development and the solidarity economy
- Reflect on the Movement’s philosophy. Deliver training about the foundations of the Movement to all stakeholders, discuss group expenditure in order to consume responsibly and create activities in order to achieve financial autonomy.
- Improve internal and external communications. Develop networks within and outside the Movement to carry more weight and use experts to support the groups in their actions.
- Sustainable development and uneconomic growth
- Improve the way in which we convey Emmaus’ image. Promote the alternative Emmaus model, convey a fresh image of the Movement, raise the awareness of young people, and train Emmaus stakeholders to convey a well argued political message.
- Run practical initiatives to limit the consumption of resources.
A practical handbook explaining how to carry out a “participatory audit leading to sustainable action” will be sent to all the movement’s groups in 2009. The handbook will include the tools studied at the seminar using the format of practical information sheets, which can be used by groups whether or not they participated in the camp.