06.05.2012 - ODG

Believe in the key word Solidarity - 'Mainichi Newspaper' (Japan)

Published in Mainichi Newspaper on 6 May 2012.

This sense of solidarity – Kizuna was the name of UNESCO’s student-to-student messaging campaign launched just after 11 March - is a core value of sustainable development. It is the foundation for a better future.

Solidarity must 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 reorient how we act.

This is the purpose of education for sustainable development – to acquire the knowledge, skills and values necessary to shape a future of human dignity for everyone on the planet. Japan made the proposal to launch a United Nations Decade devoted to Education for Sustainable Development 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. Rio+20, whose slogan is “Build the Future We Want,” can only succeed by building on education –- education that sensitizes young generations and their teachers to their responsibility in shaping more just, sustainable and green societies.

Last February, I stood on the rooftop of Nakano Elementary School in Sendai and contemplated the vast open plains near the ocean front. The school was ripped apart by the Tsunami. But every student and every teacher made it to the roof safely and not a single life was lost in the school. This is what education for sustainable development is about also -– making schools safe and ensuring that students know how to react when a disaster strikes, when every second counts.

UNESCO is leading the way by sharing good practices, advising policy makers on how to integrate these ideas into education plans and curricula, supporting teachers and developing materials.

There are many exciting grassroots initiatives on education for sustainable development underway across the world. Behind each one are engaged young people and teachers, inspired by the spirit of solidarity. Education is a pillar of the future we want to build. Rio+20 must recognize its power to save lives and change them.

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