We must become the change we want to see. 
Mahatma Gandhi

How are you living today the change you want to see tomorrow?



Three women were instrumental in leading us towards a better understanding of the moral imperative of sustaining our earth and her peoples. Eleanor Roosevelt promoted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at the UN in 1948; Rachel Carson gave to the world her powerful “Silent Spring” in 1962; and Gro Harlem Brundtland shepherded a needed definition of Sustainable Development through the UN in 1987. These efforts paved the way to the first UN Conference on Environment in 1972, the Earth Summit in 1992, and the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002. Each world conference builds on the ones before, calls world leaders to accountability for the past, and leads in new directions in response to emerging issues.

Next year Heads of State and Government will come together once again to see if they can make a sustainable future happen. The UN Conference on Sustainable Development, to be held 4-6 June 2012 in Rio de Janeiro Brazil, aims to secure renewed political commitment for sustainability, assess progress to date and remaining gaps in implementation of the outcomes of the previous major summits on this issue, and address new and emerging challenges. 

Through our SNDatUN Office, Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur can be registered for this UN Conference in Rio next June as NGO participants. There is no fee to attend these meetings but participants are responsible for their transportation, lodging, and food. Some funds are available to assist Sisters to attend this meeting, with preference given to those from Africa and Latin America. Sisters interested in attending this conference in Rio next June may contact Jean Stoner at  Learn more:


In many parts of our world today, women and children spend many tiring hours each week collecting firewood or dung to use for cooking. Inhaled smoke causes serious respiratory illness and often death since a mother with an infant on her back bends over a fire each time she cooks a meal. Children do not attend school since they are needed to scavenge for wood or dung. Women and girls are at risk of attack when they leave their homes to find fuel. Wood and dung smoke from multiple fires in the village pollutes the air.

Solar Cooking in Chad

One of the most helpful innovations for these families is a solar cooker which can be made with materials on hand and which relies on the sun, a plentiful and free resource, to cook food and purify water. Getting a solar cooker and learning how to use it transforms the whole family. The hours a woman toils each day finding fuel can be used in other ways, including creating items for sale to support her family. Husbands have greater respect for their wives as they see them proudly become major contributors to the family’s income. Children are free to attend school and the family can now afford school fees. Everyone is healthier and happier. To learn more about how you can help:


In April 2011 Pablo Solón of Bolivia gave a challenging address at the UN about Harmony with Nature and the Rights of Mother Earth.  Reflect on his inspiring two-page document (English only):