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Home > Thinking about the Future - Updated: 08-01-2003 5:21 pm
No one knows what the future will be, except that it will be very different from what life is today and that decisions about whether the future is a sustainable one or not will depend upon changes in human culture.  
“Our culture includes our whole system of beliefs, values, attitudes, customs and institutions. It shapes our gender, race and other social relations, and affects the way we perceive ourselves and the world and how we interact with other people and the rest of nature. To the extent that the global crisis facing humanity is a reflection of collective values and lifestyles, it is, above all, a cultural crisis. Culture, therefore, has a central place in the complex notion of sustainability - and whatever form the future takes, it will be shaped at the local level by the mosaic of cultures that surround the globe and which contribute to the decisions that each country, community, household and individual makes.” (Source: UNESCO (1997) Educating for a Sustainable Future: A Transdisciplinary Vision for Concerted Action, paragraph111-112)

“Our increasing awareness of many pressing global realities is helping us to understand the impact of human actions on the environment and on human quality of life. Indeed, the concept of sustainability is, in itself, a reflection of this growing awareness and of the need for new cultural values. Thus, it has been suggested that:
Perhaps we are beginning to move towards a new global ethic which transcends all other systems of allegiance and belief, which is rooted in a consciousness of the interrelatedness and sanctity of life. Would such a common ethic have the power to motivate us to modify our current dangerous course? There is obviously no ready answer to this question, except to say that without a moral and ethical foundation, sustainability is unlikely to become a reality.” (Source: UNESCO (1997) Educating for a Sustainable Future: A Transdisciplinary Vision for Concerted Action, paragraph 116.)

Local and national communities are applying this ethic in many different ways and developing images of sustainable futures that are both culturally appropriate and locally relevant. The great diversity of cultures around the world means that there will be many versions of what a 'sustainable future' might be like and many different local forms of sustainability. Despite these differences, there are at least three common themes in global thinking about sustainable futures. These include the ideas that sustainability involves: thinking about forever; a process of learning; and, a dynamic balance.


Author(s) UNESCO
Periodical Name Extracts "Teaching and learning for a sustainable future a A multimedia teacher education programme"
Publication date 01/06/2002



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