The Director-General convenes the second meeting of the DESD High-Level Panel

The Director-General convenes the second meeting of the DESD High-Level Panel
  • © UNESCO/M. Ravassard

On 8 February 2007, the Director-General of UNESCO, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, convened the second meeting of the High-Level Panel on the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD, 2005-2014).

The Panel, which met for the first time in July 2004, is composed of eminent figures and leading experts in the field: Professor Alpha Omar Konaré, President of the Commission of the African Union and former President of the Republic of Mali; Dr Akito Arima, Senator and former Minister of Education, Science, Sports and Culture of Japan; Mr Carl Lindberg, former Deputy State Secretary of the Ministry of Education and Science of Sweden; Mr Steven Rockefeller, Co-Chair of the Earth Charter Commission and former Chairperson of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund; Ms Mary Joy Pigozzi, Vice-President, Academy for Education Development, USA; and Ms Rosiska Darcy de Oliveira, former Minister of Environment of Brazil, and President of the Women’s Leadership Centre, Brazil.

The aim of the meeting was to provide guidance to UNESCO on the implementation of the Decade, to take stock of the progress that has been made, and to identify ways of intensifying support for DESD across all levels of society.

In his remarks, the Director-General highlighted the major developments that have taken place since the Panel’s last meeting in 2004. He drew particular attention to the finalization of the International Implementation Scheme for the Decade, as well as UNESCO’s in-house Plan of Action. The former provides an overall framework for collaboration at the international and regional level, while the latter defines UNESCO’s specific programmatic contribution towards DESD.

The Director-General argued that the Decade was now ready to enter its second phase. “The past two years have seen a series of national and regional launches aimed at building awareness of and support for DESD. It is now time to move forward with concrete plans for implementation,” he said.

Mr Matsuura highlighted the importance of proceeding in an intersectoral manner. “The education and science sectors must cooperate closely if the objectives of DESD are to be realized,” he argued. He likewise stressed the need for the UN system as a whole to adopt a coherent approach to the Decade. “I strongly believe that the DESD provides an opportunity for us all to work together as ‘one United Nations’ in supporting our stakeholders and Member States in improving the quality of education.”

A frank and constructive debate ensued, with Panel members agreeing that the Decade demanded a new approach among all partners. Particular emphasis was placed on the need to reach out to Ministers of Education – sustainable development cannot be regarded as an issue for Ministers of Environment alone. Panel members also agreed that culture constituted an integral element of ESD. As Professor Konaré argued, “the Decade demands a profound change of perceptions of the place and role of man. This is not a secondary issue, but integral to the DESD vision.” In this regard, Panel members noted that the Decade touched upon profound ethical questions, related to scientific progress and social change, that needed to be discussed.

One further issue that the Panel discussed was how to strengthen linkages between the Decade and other development issues, especially poverty eradication and the mitigation of climate change. Panel members urged the need to adopt a holistic approach and a long-term vision. As the Director-General stated, “the DESD is about laying the foundations for a better future, and this must guide all our efforts as we move forward with implementation.”

  • Author(s):Office of the Spokeswoman
  • Source:Flash Info N° 017-2007
  • 09-02-2007
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