Latin American and Caribbean representatives met in San Jose to discuss Education for Sustainable Development

The Meeting on Education for Sustainable Development was hosted in San Jose on April 16 and 17 of 2013, convened jointly by the UNESCO Office in San Jose, Costa Rica, and the Regional Bureau of Education in Latin America and Caribbean (OREALC/UNESCO Santiago), represented by Ms. Astrid Hollander.

The meeting sought to develop three processes: carry out the last phase of monitoring and assessment of the impact of the 2005-2014 decade, prepare for the UNESCO World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development to be held in Japan in 2014, and to take note of necessary priorities in the programme framework of Sustainable Development in the next decade.

According to Hollander, “education is a key tool to build a sustainable society. However, current education practices have failed to train people to follow a more sustainable lifestyle and to change society. We need to change the way in which education is carried out. Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) strives to integrate the principles, values and practises of sustainable development in all aspects of education and learning, in addition to providing everyone with the opportunity to acquire values, abilities, knowledge and skills that enable them to contribute to a humane, fair, economically viable as well as ecologically sustainable society”.

Among other things, ESD advocates for a sense of local as well as global responsibility, promotes a long-term and forward-looking mind set, emphasizes the recognition of global interdependence and gives importance to cultural changes that enable people to adopt the values of sustainable development. Instead of staying passive in face of above-mentioned challenges, ESD seeks to train societies, communities and individuals all over the world to play an active and responsible role in determining their future.  

UNESCO has committed the principal players to developing the International Application Plan, which is based on the following key principles:

  • Sustainable Development: understood as the social, economic and environmental capacity of a country to purposefully commit to sustainable development without compromising future generations, in accordance with the objective of the Decade.
  • Basic literacy: education starts with basic literacy, which needs to become a lifelong endeavour. Both are the basis on which sustainable development rests.
  • Appropriate planning: appropriate planning in advance allows all initiatives in education development to be long lasting and become successful through robust, diverse and multiple partnerships that respond to the articulated needs of participating countries.

As coordinator and facilitator of ESD, UNESCO assists countries and regions to develop strategies, plans and policies relevant for their different realities and concerns. Likewise, as the leading organization in UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, UNESCO plans to organize consultation meetings in all regions aimed at compiling inputs from different players involved.

Representatives from Central America, Caribbean and South America shared the need to integrate the principles and practical values of sustainable development in all aspects of education, and redirect it towards changing behaviours, strengthening commitments and promoting citizen participation

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