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The Transforming Education Summit reaffirms the need for education for sustainable development

Transforming Education Summit

Education today is in crisis – a crisis of equity and inclusion, quality, and relevance. Education is not serving the purpose it is meant to serve, depriving hundreds of millions of children and young people of their right to quality education. Yet, it is not too late as the international community stands united in its aspiration to transform education – from young people speaking up to countries sharing good practices, and from education stakeholders collaborating to governments committing to greening education. 

The 2022 UN Transforming Education Summit has therefore reaffirmed the critical role that education plays in responding to these global challenges as over 130 countries heed the call to reimagine key transformative elements essential to ensuring that education contributes to building peaceful societies, a healthy planet, and shared progress that benefits all.

The Transforming Education Summit will seek to renew our collective commitment to education and lifelong learning as a pre-eminent public good.
Antonio Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General

On the occasion of the 3-day summit, world leaders highlighted the central role of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in addressing the world’s most pressing challenges during the parallel session, Greening Education Partnership: Getting Every Learner Climate-Ready, which took place on 17 September – Solutions Day; as well as the spotlight session, Transforming education to transform the world: Learning to live together sustainably, which took place on 19 September – Leaders Day.

The concept of ESD is indispensable to ensure today’s theme of greening in the education sector.*
Kazuo Yana, State Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan
Transforming Education Summit

During the parallel session on 17 September, UNESCO launched the Greening Education Partnership which mobilizes commitment from Member States and key stakeholders to green schools, curriculum, teacher training, and communities. Taking a lifelong learning approach starting from pre-primary to adult education, Greening Education will equip all learners with critical competencies covering not only knowledge and awareness, but also socio-emotional skills, including critical thinking and collaboration. Learners will be enabled to understand the complexity of the climate and environmental crisis, how global sustainability challenges are interconnected, and to support problem-solving in their contexts.

We must review the curricula to include the knowledge of climate change into different projects. Not just a separate subject. We must also integrate project-based teaching so that the young people learn from real life examples of climate change.
H.E. Naron Hangchuon, Minister of Education, Youth and Sports, Cambodia

In line with the mission of Solutions Day, which calls on all stakeholders to transform education in order to respond to the global challenges, UNESCO Assistant Director-General of Education, Stefania Giannini opened the event by emphasizing how the Partnership sets goals on green school accreditation; integrates climate education in curricula; trains educators in this field; and reaches adult learners. The moderator, H.R.H. Princess Abze Djigma of Burkina Faso, Chair of the H.R.H. Princess Abze Djigma Foundation, then facilitated the discussion which gave panelists the opportunity to share good practices and visions to concretely green education.

What you invest in teachers, you invest in the future.
Johanna Jaara Astrand, President of the Swedish Teachers’ Union, Lärarförbundet, and Vice President of the Global Union Federation, Education International

Meanwhile, the spotlight session on 19 September offered a space for a high-level dialogue among heads of state, leaders, and influencers to exchange perspectives and determine the sort of transformation the world needs and wants to reimagine a just, peaceful, and sustainable world. During the session, speakers underscored that education systems (particularly education policies, curriculum, pedagogies, teacher capacities, and learning environments) must be transformed to enable learners to acquire knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to act individually and collectively towards this aspiration.

Education should be geared towards equipping individuals with a critical mindset when engaging with information and digital technologies to build their resilience to disinformation, climate change denial, hate speech, violent extremism conducive to terrorism, and gender inequality and discrimination, through media and information literacy.
H.E. Jan Lipavský, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Czech Republic

UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay presented the Organization’s strategy to transform education: by reinventing schools into places of learning and models for sustainable living; and adapting the curriculum and teacher development so that every learner has the skills they need to navigate the world of social media, algorithms, artificial intelligence. In this regard, last year, UNESCO launched the “Green Every School” flagship project and is in the process of co-creating greening curriculum guidelines with young people.

Stefania Giannini at Transforming education summit

Leaders Day brought a close to the UN Transforming Education Summit, which led to a slew of announcements containing new, tangible commitments made by Member States to transform education through holistic, inclusive, and forward-thinking policies and practices. As the UN specialized agency for education, UNESCO will carry this momentum forward to achieve the global objective of quality education for all by 2030.