"Environmental, economic and social indicators tell us that our current model of progress is unsustainable. Ours is a world of looming challenges and increasingly limited resources. Sustainable development offers the best chance to adjust our course."
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon
The 2014 World Conference pursued the following four objectives:
1. Celebrating a Decade of Action
“What have we achieved, what are the lessons learnt?”
The World Conference carried out a stock-taking of the implementation of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD) and celebrated the Decade’s achievements. The Conference showcased initiatives, actors, networks and ideas that were inspired by the DESD and reviewed their impact on the basis of data provided by stakeholders and collected by UNESCO. With a view to post-Decade activities, the conference celebrated the successes of the DESD but also analyzed obstacles encountered and lessons learned. Examples of good practice from all over the world provided insight into viable approaches to ESD and helped to identify key areas for future action.
2. Reorienting Education to Build a Better Future for All
“How does ESD reinforce quality education?”
Education for Sustainable Development allows everyone to acquire the values, competencies, skills and knowledge necessary to shape a future in line with sustainable development. ESD implies integrating content related to sustainable development into education and using teaching and learning methods that help learners acquire skills such as critical thinking and motivating themselves to act for a better future. ESD helps make education relevant today. Building on the Bonn Declaration from 2009, which states that “ESD is setting a new direction for education and learning for all”, the World Conference addressed the importance of ESD as an integral component of quality education in the twenty-first century.
3. Accelerating Action for Sustainable Development
“How are sustainability challenges addressed through ESD?”
Sustainable development cannot be achieved by technological solutions, political regulation or financial instruments alone. Achieving sustainable development requires a fundamental change of mindsets that results in changes of action. ESD, which addresses the interdependence of environment, economy and society, can help bring this change about. The World Conference highlighted the role of ESD for the transition to green economies and societies and as a catalyst for cross-sector planning and implementation of programmes in areas such as climate change, biodiversity and disaster risk reduction. The World Conference also addressed how ESD can help move sustainable development policy and action forward to meet different global, regional, national, and local needs.
4. Setting the Agenda for ESD beyond 2014
“What are the strategies for our common future?”
The review of the implementation of the DESD at the World Conference led to the development of strategies for ESD activities after 2014. With the target date of the Millennium Development Goals and the Education for All objectives in 2015, and post-Rio+20 conference, the World Conference also highlighted the crucial role ESD plays for the next set of global education and development goals. It made concrete contributions to the post-2014 education and sustainable development agendas. ESD continues after 2014. The Conference helped ensure that it will.