Training youth in Latin America and Caribbean to be key players in sustainability education

11 October 2017

A youth-oriented workshop on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) for Latin American and the Caribbean region took place from 26 to 28 September in Brasilia, Brazil, with the support of the UNESCO Brasilia Office. The gathering brought together 44 young leaders from 13 countries: Argentina, Barbados, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, Santa Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago.

The youth from Latin America and the Caribbean island countries actively engaged in interactive discussions -in Spanish, Portuguese and English - on varied topics concerning the Sustainable Development Goals. Among the skills learnt such as systems thinking, leadership, conflict solving, communication and networking, a session on the management and community visioning inspired to ensure the implementation of the participants’ project in the countries after their return. “

The workshop gave me the tools, skills and the knowledge to ensure that I can facilitate the transformation of all these movements for sustainable development to the members of the community,” said Elon Ishmael Cadogan, a youth participant from Barbados. “Especially the vulnerable villages and communities in Barbados heavily impacted by tourism.”

Following the intensive two-day session at the venue with presentations, discussions, group works and physical activities, the youth participants were invited to join an excursion to learn from the nature conservation activity in the ecological reserve “Chapada Imperial”. It facilitated the participants to understand the abundant diversity as well as increasing deforestation that causes crisis in natural resources in the region.

After the workshop, a common youth network is expected to help the participants stay tuned and keep learning from their past and ongoing experiences. “I’m very happy to be here to learn and having been injected with all those ideas and knowledge, which we are going to implement in our daily life, in our culture and in our mother tongue,” said Glenda Marisol Xulu Perez from Guatemala. “I think that knowing about ESD or the SDGs is a big thing”. In terms of the most important outcome, she s “the connections we have created today, the network we are going to create, which I am sure will let us learn from each other. Also, we are going to keep on reinforcing our knowledge, as it is the key to maintain this Latin American and the Caribbean network and even at a global level”.

The workshop was facilitated jointly by GAP key partners of two different priority action areas; the Earth Charter International, Costa Rica (priority action area of Youth), and Kerstin Forsberg from Planeta Oceano, Peru, (priority action area of Educators and Trainers). “The workshop went incredible,” said Ms Forsberg. “The Youth participating from Latin America and Caribbean region were extremely energetic, and you could clearly see that they will implement what we have learned throughout these days into their work back at home.”

The workshop was one in a series of training activities under the flagship project of Youth Priority Action Area (Partner Network 4) of Global Action Programme (GAP) on ESD. Target groups are youth aged 18 to 35 who have demonstrated active engagement in ESD as an educator, trainer, and member of a non-governmental organization, private sector professional, policy-maker, researcher, or in any other relevant capacity in their communities.

“Youth are critical players in ESD,” said Ms Forsberg “We talk a lot about Youth as the future, but Youth are actually the present as they are already developing a series of solutions to sustainable development worldwide. They bring a lot of creativity, they think outside of the box, and they are willing to work together.” Together with regional workshops held in New Delhi, Nairobi, Dublin and Beirut since the beginning of 2017, around 250 ESD youth leaders have been trained and are committed to conducting their own workshops, reaching out to over 1500 youth to multiplying the capacity building. These workshops are implemented with the financial support from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan through the UNESCO Japanese Funds-in-Trust for ESD.