Implementing the Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development in Southern Africa

The outcome document of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in 2012, “The Future We Want” agreed to “promote education for sustainable development and to integrate sustainable development more actively into education beyond the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development” (UNDESD). A decision was taken to develop a coherent Global Action Programme (GAP) to scale-up presence and significance of ESD internationally and nationally. This framework programme will serve as a follow-up to the UNDESD after 2014.

The 2014 UNESCO World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development (10-12 November 2014, Aichi-Nagoya, Japan) marked the end of the UN Decade of ESD. The conference saw the launch of the Aichi-Nagoya Declaration on ESD and of the Roadmap for implementing the Global Action Programme on ESD, as well as the release of the Final DESD Report (and its summary). In addition, the 10-year Framework Programme (10YFP) on Sustainable Lifestyles and Education (SLE), to which UNESCO contributes, was also launched at the World Conference on ESD.

The Global Action Programme (GAP), acknowledged by UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/69/211, focuses on five priority action areas, considered as key leverage points to advance ESD: advancing policy; transforming learning and training environments; building capacities of educators and trainers; empowering and mobilizing youth; and accelerating sustainable solutions at local level.

The Global Action Programme (GAP) on ESD was launched during the World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development in Japan, in 2014. UNESCO coordinates the implementation of the Global Action Programme and closely works with key partners to generate and scale-up ESD action. The Southern Africa region has been the main regional drive behind ESD implementation in the continent throughout the DESD, and will therefore continue to play a major role in the roll-out of the GAP.

ESD is now a compulsory curriculum-supported activity with the backing of the Ministries of Education of many countries in the region. There is also mainstreaming of ESD in formal and non- formal education where Southern African countries such as  Zimbabwe and South Africa are integrating sustainability practices into education and increasing the capacity of educators and trainers.  Local communities and municipal authorities are developing community-based ESD programmes.

In spite of these efforts, enrolment in ESD programmes is not yet inclusive, still showing gender differences and excluding illiterate adults outside education programmes. In addition the funding required for a successful implementation of ESD programmes is lacking. Other partners tend to protect their self- interests such as profit maximization at the expense of ESD goals. In addition, there is a lack of statistical data on ESD to support future education planning processes. Hence there is need for greater collaboration among Ministries, Governments and NGOs towards ESD; to create gender parity and involvement of adults in ESD programmes.  There is also a need for more ESD related statistical data future planning as well as for the monitoring and evaluation of the application and implementation of ESD programmes.

Following national consultations on ESD in the member countries, a regional meeting was held in August 2015 in Harare where governments and other stakeholders  agreed on the common strategic action points for the region focusing  on the implementation of the Global Action Programme. 

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