Launch in New York of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014)UNESCO Director General Koïchiro Matsuura will launch the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014) at UN headquarters in New York on March 1 (5.30 p.m.). The main goal of the Decade is to encourage the governments of Member State to integrate the concept of sustainable development into their education policies and into all aspects of learning to bring about behavioural changes that will usher in a more viable and just society.
Before the official launch, an experts' round-table (3.30 - 5.00 p.m., Room 6) led by Professor Steven Rockefeller, President of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, will examine the Decade's objectives, raising financial resources, and the respective roles of governments, NGOs, civil society and the private sector.
By placing education at the heart of sustainable development, the Decade aims to encourage stakeholders to improve the quality of teaching, facilitate exchanges among the various players and raise public awareness. The complex concept of education for a sustainable development goes beyond the environment (water, climate change, biodiversity, disaster prevention, sustainable production and consumption etc.). It also encompasses economic aspects of development (fighting poverty, managing social transformations, eco-tourism etc.) and its socio-cultural aspects (the promotion of cultural diversity, gender equality, indigenous knowledge, the fight against HIV/AIDS…).
“We no longer have a choice,” says the Director-General, “either humanity adapts its behaviour to support sustainable development, meaning it ceases to pollute the environment, allows the renewal of natural resources and contributes to improve everybody's well-being, or it signs its own, more or less imminent, death sentence. Education plays a crucial role in training citizens. However, it is not always suited to the needs of future societies, both in developed in developing countries. Environmental and cultural heritage education, for instance, does not always have the place it deserves in school curricula, and the links between culture and the sciences are not adequately emphasized.”
As the lead Agency for the Decade, UNESCO is committed to coordinating the efforts of the whole United Nations system to integrate the notion of sustainable development in formal and informal educational systems. To this end, UNESCO has drafted, in consultation with many partners and stakeholders, an International Implementation Scheme for the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, which sets out the broad framework and provides partners with orientations and advice for their contribution to the Decade.
An evaluation mechanism will be established to look at the results of the Decade on the basis of indicators established at the local, national, regional and international levels. A mid-term progress report will be presented at the 65th session of the United Nations General Assembly in 2010.
The concept of sustainable development emerged in the 1980s in response to a growing awareness of the need to reconcile economic and social progress with the environment. The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (Stockholm, 1972) drew the international community’s attention to this issue. The Earth Summit (Rio de Janeiro, 1992) accorded a strong priority to education in sustainable development, and that idea was maintained and developed at the World Summit for Sustainable Development (Johannesburg, 2002), which proposed the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2002.
UNESCO has produced a CD-ROM -- Teaching and Learning for a Sustainable Future – for educators, teaching instructors, policy decision-makers and textbook authors. It is available on the Organization’s web site.