27.11.2018 - UNESCO Venice Office

Catalysing regional action for Global Citizenship Education

Global Citizenship Education: Taking it Local!

On 21-22 November 2018, Portugal hosted the 2018 Europe and North America Regional GCED Network Meeting to strengthen regional action for Global Citizenship Education towards the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals. The event was co-organised by the Asia-Pacific Centre of Education for International Understanding (APCEIU), in cooperation with UNESCO, its Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe and the Global Education Network Europe.

While the world may increasingly be interconnected, human rights violations, inequality and poverty still threaten peace and sustainability. Global Citizenship is UNESCO’s response to these challenges. It works by empowering learners of all ages to understand that these are global, not local, issues and to become active promoters of more peaceful, tolerant, inclusive, secure and sustainable societies.

The commitment of actors around the world to promote Global Citizenship Education (GCED) has contributed greatly to its development - including raising awareness and catalysing action. One major achievement of these efforts is the incorporation of GCED in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through Target 4.7 (Education through Global Citizenship). This captures the clear call for education that addresses the needs of the 21st century, empowering learners to act towards a more peaceful, just, inclusive and sustainable world. GCED reflects the aim of education to go beyond solely access and “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong opportunities for all” for the next 15 years.

Notwithstanding the progress made in this endeavour, and as expressed in various international events on GCED, stakeholders have identified steps needed to further advance GCED, both at the conceptual and implementation levels. At the conceptual level, clarity on GCED’s connection with other concepts (human rights, peace, cultural diversity and sustainable development) show the need to address the specificities of the different stakeholders. At the implementation level, discussions on mainstreaming mechanisms, political engagement, leadership and financing are some of the concerns to be addressed. 

In Europe and North America, a number of initiatives have contributed to the regional and global dialogue for GCED and its related concepts. Already well established in several countries, they work at various levels, including reaching out to other regions. The long history of implementing GCED and its related themes in Europe and North America has contributed to developing a strong stakeholder base that includes local, national and international actors.

Within the European framework, the experience of the Global Education Network Europe (GENE) shows the importance of promoting synergies in the various forms of education.  All pursue the common goal of strengthening education and learning for social change - including social justice and cohesion - locally and globally. This embraces, but is not limited to, Global Education, Global Development Education, Global Learning, Development Education and Education for Sustainable Development.

Capitalising on this momentum, the Regional GCED Network meeting in Lisbon was successful in providing a platform for the discussion of strategies to strengthen GCED networking strategies within and beyond the region; mapping different GCED initiatives; and exploring areas of possible collaboration with a view to solidifying regional and global action on GCED.

The meeting met its outcomes. It allowed a sharing of information on GCED implementation in Europe and North America, including the identification of sub-regional and country-level entry points. It presented common issues, main challenges and achievements other regional GCED network meetings co-hosted by APCEIU. Finally, it launched a dialogue process with the GCED actors in Europe and North America to explore roads of cooperation within the region and with other regions and to discuss the dynamics of how their established networks can contribute to the idea of a global GCED Network

Last in a series of Regional GCED Network meetings co-hosted by APCEIU, the meeting was an avenue to share the experiences at the global and regional levels in developing platforms for GCED networking, to seek possible areas of collaboration with existing initiatives in Europe and North America and to propose a global networking mechanism for GCED. About 50 representatives of GCED-implementing institutions and individual experts in the field from Europe and North America gathered to discuss and develop strategies towards the scaling-up of efforts in the regional promotion of GCED.

The meeting was useful for stock-taking and getting an overview of various European and North American experiences and case studies at different levels: governmental (such as Ministries of Education), intergovernmental (such as UNESCO and EU-related programmes), university and research centres and civil society (NGOs). The potential role of the UNESCO Chairs and the UNESCO ASPNet schools was highlighted with a view to forging synergies and ensuring further momentum and impetus for subsequent networking of partners. A Steering Group comprised of 14 members representing the above4 levels was set-up to that end.

Link: https://www.gcedclearinghouse.org/

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