UNESCO, Nations Discuss Sustainability Education in Japan

World Conference on Education_for_Sustainable_Development

A three-day international conference has opened in Nagoya, central Japan, geared toward the promotion of education for sustainable development.  Government officials and researchers from over 100 countries attended.

Upon opening the World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Director-General, Irina Bokova said education is playing an increasingly important role in preparing today’s youth for their future, especially as more economic, social and environmental challenges are faced by the world.

“To achieve sustainable development, technology, political regulations and financial incentives will not suffice – we need to change the way that we think and act, as individuals and as societies,” UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, told delegates at the World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD).

“This is the aim of education for sustainable development,” she added.

Over 1,000 attendees came to the conference, which looked at the many issues that will be faced in the coming years.

The focus of ESD is to allow all humans around the world to attain the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values needed to promote a sustainable future.  The idea was first proposed in 2002 by former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in an effort to build a rich and safe society through education.

The United Nations designated the years 2005-2014 as years to promote ESD, with the conference serving as a milestone to point the way for the future.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon attended the conference through a video monitor, saying that education was “the starting point” for a sustainable future, and that sustainability must be “built into everything we do.”

“Boys and girls must learn about global citizenship, to prepare them for the responsibility of safeguarding our common future,” Mr. Ban said.

“There is no Plan B because there is no Planet B.”

UNESCO unveiled its report titled Shaping the Future We Want at the conference, which takes a closer look at ESD initiatives across the world.

Questionnaires were handed out and completed by 70 countries, finding that 2/3 of the countries already have a national ESD plan ready or in place, which indicates “an increased global recognition that education is a critical tool for moving societies towards sustainable development.”

UNESCO discussed a number of issues in its report, including the need to coordinate education with sustainable development in an effort to ensure that education supports sustainable development objectives, as well as the need for “widespread, overt and sustained political support to make the transition from creating an enabling environment to achieving actual changes in curriculum and educator practice at all levels of education.”