ASPnet schools join the global commitment for ESD

Students and teachers of UNESCO Associated Schools representing 32 countries came together in Okayama, Japan, during the UNESCO ASPnet International ESD Events from 4 to 8 November 2014, to share their views. Some 200 participants discussed their ideas and ambitions on protecting and respecting the environment, setting up effective recycling systems, preparing and preventing natural disasters, and on the fight against poverty.

“We have come here to talk about the future – a sustainable future. For that, we must understand each other, our situations, our lives and our needs. When we create a vision of a sustainable future, it has to be a vision by and for all of us that we can convey, with confidence, to the world,” stated Yaame Iseki, a young Japanese girl, in her opening address of the ASPnet Platform for Students.

The UNESCO ASPnet International ESD Events for Students and Teachers took place in the run-up to the UNESCO World Conference on Education for Sustainable (ESD) held from 10 to 12 November 2014 in Aichi-Nagoya. It marked the end of an ESD Decade of Action and to guide the way for the future. The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, welcomed participants in Okayama as “key members of the UNESCO family” and reminded them that “the world belongs to each of us – it is our responsibility to do everything to protect and nurture it, today and tomorrow.”

Within fruitful and dynamic debates, passionate and committed ASPnet students shared their experiences and views on how to achieve a sustainable society, drawing on what they have observed and perceived in their schools, communities and home countries. Participants actively engaged in discussions on how to develop further ESD activities beyond the Decade, strengthen and deepen cooperation among ASPnet members as well as increase the role of young people, as future decision-makers. The results and conclusions were reflected in a Joint Declaration and presented by selected ASPnet representatives at the World Conference.

The Students’ Platform was followed by an ASPnet Platform for Teachers during which 40 educators shared their achievements and discussed how UNESCO Associated Schools can contribute to the Global Action Programme on ESD , which was officially launched in Nagoya. During the opening session, Qian Tang, Assistant-Director General of UNESCO for Education, emphasized that if ESD was to become “a worldwide reality, one of the priorities must be to strengthen teacher-training institutions to provide solid initial training and continual professional development.”

Throughout the programme of the ASPnet Events, participants also had the opportunity to visit nearby key sites linked to ESD. For example, learning about the biodiversity of the Asahi-gawa river and local fishing habits, exploring the Horseshoe Crab Museum of Kasaoka City, and finding out about traditional techniques to create natural products made of Aji Stone.

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