14 December 2012, Paris, France. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) organized the Annual Meeting of the Inter-Agency Committee for the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (IAC/DESD) on 13-14 December 2012 at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France.
The two-day meeting provided an opportunity to consult with IAC members on the development of strategies on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) activities after 2014; exchange experiences on disaster risk reduction education; and discuss other issues relevant to the current and future work of the IAC.
In his opening remarks Mr. Alexander Leicht, Chief of the Section of Education for Sustainable Development, UNESCO, pointed out that sustainable development cannot be achieved by technological solutions, political regulation or financial instruments alone. Mr. Leicht stressed instead that “achieving sustainable development requires a fundamental change of mindsets. Education for Sustainable Development can help to promote this transformation”.
During the Meeting IAC members and other organizations presented their experiences on Addressing Disaster Risk Reduction through Education for Sustainable Development (DRR/ESD) and ESD. Ms. Julia Heiss, Programme Specialist, UNESCO highlighted the importance of integrating Disaster Risk Reduction in national educational plans, school curricula and national strategies. She said “Education for Disaster Risk Reduction (EDRR) promotes critical thinking and problem-solving as well as social and emotional life skills. EDRR through its interdisciplinary and holistic approach to learning helps create resilient societies and contributes to increasing natural disaster preparedness culture”.
Ms. Adriana Valenzuela, from the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) stressed that UNITAR is glad to be a member of the IAC/ESD group since 2012. Ms. Valenzuela highlighted linkages between the work of the IAC/ESD group and UN CC:Learn, a One UN initiative on climate change learning for which UNITAR is providing the Secretariat, and she emphasized the possibility of creating additional linkages between the specialized work undertaken by the IAC/ESD members and UN CC:Learn activities, which include support of five country pilot projects and compilation of a One UN Package of learning resources. Finally Ms. Valenzuela highlighted that countries increasingly take a strategic approach to ESD through engagement of all sectors and national learning institutions, as within the framework of UN CC:Learn.
The IAC meeting facilitated participants’ discussions on possible actions to include in the post-2014 framework on ESD. Main recommendations comprise inter alia:
- Integrating ESD into education and sustainable development policies at the international and national level;
- Integrating ESD across the whole education system;
- Integrating ESD into teacher education;
- Empowering individual learners;
- Strengthening partnership and networks;
- Promoting monitoring and evaluation of ESD activities;
- Promoting media and Information and Communication Technology (ICT);
- Promoting research.
Next activities to promote Education for Sustainable Development that were discussed at the meeting include the preparation of the Final Report of the UNDESD, the preparation of the post 2014 framework on ESD, and the organization of the World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development, Learning Today for a Sustainable Future, 10-12 November 2014, Aichi-Nagoya, Japan. These activities will carry out a stock-taking of the implementation of UNDESD, celebrate the Decade’s achievements and define action post-2014.
In the closing remarks UNESCO thanked participants for their contributions during the meeting and encouraged IAC member to continue promoting ESD activities at international, national and local level.
Before closure of the meeting it was announced that United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) will provide the presidency and UNESCO will provide the secretariat of the IAC during the year 2013. Ms. Stephanie Hodge, Education Specialist, UNICEF said: “we will work together with UNESCO and the IAC members to continue promoting ESD inclusion into the education and sustainable development agenda; it is our commitment”.
About the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD)
The UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD) 2005–2014 was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2002 with the overall goal to integrate the principles, values, and practices of sustainable development into all aspects of education and learning. IAC/DESD was established by UNESCO as a forum of UN agencies for open-ended collaboration towards the effective implementation of the Decade. It brings together 22 agencies: UNESCO (including relevant Institutes and Centres), FAO, ILO, UNAIDS, UNDP, UNEP, UNFPA, UN Global Compact, UN-HABITAT, UNHCR, UNICEF, UN-ISDR, UNITAR, UNU, WFP, WHO, World Bank, WTO, UNCCD, UNCBD, UNFCCC and UNDESA.
About UN CC:Learn
UN CC:Learn is a partnership of 33 multilateral organizations which supports Member States in designing and implementing results-oriented and sustainable learning to address climate change. The Secretariat for UN CC:Learn is provided by UNITAR. An important aspect of UN CC:Learn is to support countries in developing a National Strategy to Strengthen Human Resources and Skills to Advance Green, Low Emission and Climate Resilient Development, through a multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder process. During the course of 2012-2013, Benin, the Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Malawi, and Uganda are participating as UN CC:Learn pilot countries. Core funding for the 2011-2013 implementation phase of UN CC:Learn is provided by the Swiss Government.