Message on World Environment Day from Prof Anantha Duraiappah, new Director of UNESCO MGIEP
Prof. Anantha Duraiappah, has taken over as Director of UNESCO’s Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development, a UNESCO Category 1 institute established in collaboration with the Government of India for advancing peace and sustainability through education policy and learning processes. He took office on 3 June 2014 from outgoing Director, Mr Kabir Shaikh, under whom the Institute was set up. Prof. Duraiappah is the former Executive Director of the International Human Dimensions Program on Global Environment Change at the United Nations University, Bonn.
If there is one thing that is clear to us going into World Environment Day this year, more than ever before, it is that sustainable development is not a luxury to be sought after economic growth and security, but the foundation upon which collective security and prosperity will be built. By any indication, our current trajectory of GDP growth, globally, is not sustainable, and unless we can alter its course, we harbour the danger of ecological and social catestrophies leading to violent and structural conflict. The long history of our encounters with war and insecurity has abundantly demonstrated the inextricable link between inequitable development and conflict, and between sustainability and sustainable peace.
The international community is in its final year of the Millennium Development Goals, many of which could not be achieved by countries facing violent conflict. The MDGs are set to be replaced by a new development agenda in 2015. The zero draft of the Sustainable Development Goals released this week roots all future goals in sustainability and equity. The High Level Panel on the Post-2015 global development agenda calls for transformative shifts which are interdisciplinary and can only be achieved through multisectoral global partnerships.
If the transformations we seek are fundamental, then they will have to begin with a better understanding of human behaviour and imparting the notion of global citizenship to present and future generations. Sustainability must be common sense to those who will lead the development and peace building processes of tomorrow. And, education has to be the vanguard of this brave new world. UNESCO’s goals for the post-2015 global education agenda prioritize knowledge and skills which will help young people and adults ‘contribute to peace and the creation of an equitable and sustainable world.’ Our challenge is to mainstream the link between peace and sustainable development in intellectual and policy discourses, and help governments implement these big ideas as practical policy solutions.
I look forward to our role, in the MGIEP, and the emerging global partnership, in helping build this new worldview and this new world, building on the fundamental principles of Satyagraha of the Mahatma which are as relevant today as they were five decades ago.
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