It was clear that something exciting was hatching at Horizon Scotland, Moray’s business incubator, when Scottish MPs, representatives of Moray Council, the Highland Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Oxford Brooks and Dundee Universities and local businesses gathered to learn more about CIFAL Findhorn. Angus Robertson, Member of Paliament for Moray, described it as “an audacious and innovative proposal,” putting Moray on the map by making the Findhorn Ecovillage a UNITAR (United Nations Institute of Training and Research) centre for training local authorities in sustainable development.
Unanimous support for the project was expressed in the meeting and enthusiasm ran high for the initiative which is bound to bring more visitors to Moray and provide a focal point for all those already involved in sustainable development in the area.
The Findhorn Ecovillage was awarded the UN-Habitat Best Practice Designation in 1998 and it continues to demonstrate sustainable methods of building, heating, waste water treatment, gardening, energy supply and community living. The Findhorn Foundation and community is a founding member of the Global Ecovillage Network.
Real life experience
As Brian Burns of Brian Burns Associates said, “The Findhorn Ecovillage offers real life case study experience,” a crucial factor for educators such as Professor Kessler from Oxford Brooks University whose students visit the Findhorn Foundation for “a crash course in sustainability”.
May East, coordinator of Ecovillage Training Programmes at the Findhorn Foundation, explained that UNITAR had created centres from which to train local authorities to ensure the implementation of the main agendas of the United Nations including the Millennium Development Goals. These centres are called CIFAL centres, ‘International Training Centre for Local Authorities’ and Bernard Hoarau, Director of CIFAL, who had flown in from Geneva, told the meeting how CIFAL Findhorn looks set to become the twelfth centre worldwide.
There are 32 local authorities in Scotland each with at least one identified sustainability officer and over 400 local authorities in the UK. Each one is in the process of developing sustainability policies and programmes. The Scottish Executive have published a comprehensive Sustainable Development Strategy.
Further support came from Daniel Wahl of Dundee University, the first university to endorse the CIFAL Findhorn Project. Wahl cited Sir Patrick Geddies, father of town planning and a Scot, who in 1915 coined the phrase, “think global, act local,” pointing out that “we are at a crucial point in human development. If we don’t make changes locally, regionally and globally now, future generations will want to know why not.”
We are excited to see the development of this new way of contributing our skills in sustainability education in a very practical way. We hope that local support for CIFAL Findhorn will continue to grow as more local partners join in the initiative. Watch this space!