Education for Sustainable Development fosters green societies – UNESCO panel in New York

PIXELIO/Thomas Buttler (www.pixelio.de)

Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) plays a crucial role in empowering citizens to achieve the transition towards more sustainable and equitable societies. In a world of seven billion people, with the largest ever youth population and limited natural resources, education must enable learners to acquire relevant competencies to address sustainability challenges.

This was the key message of a panel that UNESCO organized on behalf of the Interagency Committee for the UN Decade of ESD during the Rio+20 <a name="_GoBack"></a>negotiations on 20 March 2012 at the United Nations in New York. About 70 participants from around the world attended the event that addressed how ESD supports driving transitions towards more sustainable and just societies. Integrating ESD into the Rio+20 Conference as well as in its outcomes will be crucial to foster transition towards green societies, panellists agreed.    

The panellists highlighted concrete ESD contributions to poverty eradication and the shift towards green economies. A number of Japanese ESD activities were outlined that enable citizens to become active for a sustainable society. Another example presented education activities that support small recycling businesses in Cairo slums. To unfold its full transformative potential ESD has to be integrated into all areas of education and learning – be it at school, at home or within the community. 

Panellists included Takao Kuramochi, Ministry of Education, Japan; Kartikeya Sarabhai, Center for Environmental Education, India; Elizabeth Thompson, Rio+20 Executive Coordinator; Jay Reetoo, Permanent Mission of the Republic of Mauritius to the UN; Laila Iskander, Community and Institutional Development Consulting, Egypt; Nikhil Seth, Division Director at the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, and Alexander Leicht, Chief of the ESD Section at UNESCO, who spoke on behalf of the Interagency Committee for the UN Decade of ESD. The event was moderated by Paolo Soprano, Vice-chair of the Bureau for the Rio+20 Preparatory Process. The Japanese representative served as the chair of the panel. Japan and Sweden provided funding for the event. 

The UN Interagency Committee for the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD) brings together 21 UN entities in support of ESD. It is convened by UNESCO, the lead agency for the DESD. 

The Rio+20 Conference marks the twentieth anniversary of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Rio +20 aims at securing new political commitment for sustainable development, assess the progress and gaps in implementing the outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development, and address new and emerging challenges.

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