Article on Rio+20 by Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General, is published in O Globo, a Brazilian newspaper
Brazilian newspaper O Globo, 26 May 2012
Solidarity is a core value of sustainable development. It is the foundation for a better future.
It must also be our motto as we prepare the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio. When we take stock of our interdependence – with nature, with our surroundings and with others –- we must question our habits, our development paradigm, and change the way we act, all together.
This is the purpose of education for sustainable development – to provide all with the knowledge, skills and values necessary to shape a future based on respect and dignity for everyone on the planet. A United Nations Decade devoted to Education for Sustainable Development was launched at the Earth Summit in Johannesburg in 2002. The Decade came into being in 2005, with UNESCO as the lead United Nations agency.
I believe that education for sustainable development has come of age. The slogan for Rio+20 is “Build the Future We Want.” We can make this a reality by building on education – education that sensitizes young generations and their teachers to their responsibility to work together in shaping a more just, more sustainable and green societies.
The conversations that I had via video last January with students from the Baguncao Youth Centre in the Brazilian city of Salvador confirmed my conviction that the next generation has the will and the sense of solidarity to build these societies. These young people were involved in the launch of the project “Teaching respect for all », undertaken jointly by UNESCO, with Brazil and the United States and rooted in our conviction that the struggle against racism and intolerance is a fundamental part of education for sustainable development.
UNESCO’s role is to accompany this movement, to serve as a catalyst for change by sharing good practices, advising policy makers on how to integrate new ideas into education plans and curricula, supporting teachers and developing materials. Education can be a force for positive change. There are many exciting grassroots initiatives on education for sustainable development underway across the world. Young people and teachers, inspired by the spirit of solidarity are involved in all of this work. Education is a pillar of the future we want to build. Rio+20 must recognize its power to change lives, and in doing so, change the world.
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