Building peace in the minds of men and women

Irina Bokova Champions Education for Sustainable Change in Morocco

On 10 June, 2013, Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General, spoke at the Opening Session of the 7th World Environmental Education Congress, held in Marrakesh, Morocco.

The Director-General called for a global shift to sustainability in response the challenges facing all societies, on the basis of solidarity, equality and inclusion. For this, she underlined the essential role of education and learning, in formal and informal settings, as the most powerful way to develop new values, attitudes and behaviours -- all of which lay the foundation for building green societies and green economies.

The Director-General put this at the heart of the new Global Education First Initiative of the UN Secretary-General, which UNESCO is steering forward, to ensure every child gets to school, has access to quality, relevant learning and develops new forms of global citizenship.

“On a planet under pressure, education is the best way to drive change, to build resilient, green societies,” said the Director-General. “This idea guides the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014) that UNESCO leads and all UNESCO's work for sustainability, including through biosphere reserves, UNESCO chairs, support to biodiversity and cultural diversity.”

Participants in the Opening Session of the Congress included also Dr Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri, Director-General of the Islamic Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), Mr Achim Steiner, Executive Director of UNEP, Mr Jan Eriksen President of the Foundation for Environmental Education, the sociologist and philosopher, Mr Edgar Morin, as well as representatives from the Mohammed VI Foundation for Environmental Protection as well as the FAO.

The 7th World Environmental Education Congress is being held under the patronage of His Majesty King Mohammed VI and the leadership of Her Royal Highness Princess Lalla Hasnaa.

On the occasion of this visit, Irina Bokova met with Mr Fouad Douiri, Minister of Energy, Mines, Water and the Environment, with whom she signed an agreement on the creation of a Regional Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, as a Category 2 Centre under UNESCO’s auspices.

'This is a vital step for the region, for Africa, that reflects Morocco's vision of the importance of renewable energy and its leadership in moving this agenda forward,' said the Director-General. 

The Director-General visited the Regional Centre, which supports public policies and the sharing of best practices, capacity-building, education and awareness-raising as well as cooperative research across the region in the field of renewable energies and energy efficiency.

With Dr Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri, Director-General of the Islamic Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, Irina Bokova had the opportunity to sign a Cooperation Programme between ISESCO and UNESCO for 2013-2015.

This Programme covers a range of specific cooperative activities in their areas of competence, with a view of achieving shared strategic objectives for the benefit of their common Member States. The activities cover the full range of UNESCO's mandate.

“We are sister organizations,” said the Director-General, 'with common mandates, and these joint projects will be important for building capacities in essential areas for lasting peace and sustainable development today.”