“Education for sustainable development is education for the 21st century – real change must happen in the way we think, we act and we behave with each other and with the earth that nourishes us,” declared UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova at the opening ceremony of the 7th World Environmental Congress held on 9-14 June in Marrakesh.
Building on the successes of the UN Decade of ESD (DESD), a panel discussion was organized as a side event to the Congress discussed the “Preparation for the future of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)” to help define the future global programme on ESD.
The panel, moderated by Professor Daniella Tilbury of University of Gloucestershire, UK, was attended by Professor Heila Lotz-Sistika, Rhodes University, South Africa; Professor Michel Ricard, University of Bordeaux, France; Ms. Kartikeya Sarabhai, Director of Centre of Environment Education Ahmedabad, India; Mr. Mario Salomone, Secretary-General of WEEC; Mr. Mahesh Pradhan, Chief of the Environmental Education and Training Unit, UNEP; Mr. Alexander Leicht, Chief of Section of Education for Sustainable Development, UNESCO.
Panelists emphasized the positive shifts that took place during the Decade, notably the wide-spread realization that ESD is a recognized driver of sustainable development. However, despite the optimism, participants also acknowledged stark realities such as the dramatic challenge of climate change, as well as unsustainable production and consumption patterns.
The future programme for ESD is expected to be launched at the UNESCO World Conference on ESD to be held in Japan (Aichi-Nagoya) in November 2014. The future programme is aiming to generate action across a broad range of stakeholders, including teachers, learners and local communities, and at different levels – ie. at the policy level and within individual institutions. “Sustainable Development must start with education – with education that empowers women and men, with new skills,” said Irina Bokova, underlining the importance of the DESD.
The event was organized by UNESCO in cooperation with UNEP and UNICEF.