European environment conference reaffirms central role of Education
The central role of education in sustainable development was stressed at the Eighth Environment for Europe (EfE) Ministerial Conference which took place in Batumi, Georgia on 8-10 June, 2016.
The conference, for which the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) serves as the secretariat, presents a high-level platform for stakeholders to discuss, decide and join in efforts addressing environmental priorities across the 56 countries of the ECE region.
The event involved a special high-level session on 10 years of education for sustainable development. Contributing in a video message, Assistant Director-General for Education Mr Qian Tang said: “Achieving sustainable development requires a change in the way we think and act, and as a result a transition to sustainable lifestyles, consumption and production patterns. Only education and learning at all levels and in all social contexts can bring about this critical change.”
Education key to change
He stressed the importance of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) as a key partner in the Global Action Programme (GAP) on Education for Sustainable Development, the official follow-up to the UN Decade for ESD which highlights the central role of education and learning in sustainable development.
The conference was due to adopt the Batumi Ministerial statement on Education for Sustainable Development recognizing the importance of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and celebrating the implementation of the UNECE Strategy for Education for Sustainable Development.
UNESCO, which is part of the UNECE Steering committee on ESD, supports countries to build ESD capacities, generate and scale-up actions, focusing on key issues - climate change, biodiversity, disaster risk reduction, water, cultural diversity, sustainable urbanisation and sustainable lifestyles - as entry points for promoting sustainable development practices through education. It advises policy-makers on how to integrate ESD into education plans and curricula. It develops ESD tools and materials for decision-makers, teachers and students to contribute to making education relevant for today’s world.”
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