UNESCO and the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development

Manila Bulletin, January 15, 2005 | Go to article overview

UNESCO and the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development


EDUCATION for Sustainable Development is the theme of the UNESCO National Commission of the Philippines (UNACOM) conference on January 20-21 at the Department of Foreign Affairs auditorium. The conference will gather members of the Commission to review the projects of the Committees on Education, Communication, Social and Human Sciences, Culture, and Science and Technology in order to relate their thrusts to the UNESCO Medium-Term Strategy (2002-2007), the United Nations Millennium Development Goals for 2000-2015, and the countrys Medium-Term Development Plan.

In addition to the members of the Commission, participants will include policy makers, members of the academe, NGOs, government agencies, and youth organizations. They will join plenary and workshop groups in the discussion of these topics: UNESCO Today and Its Future; Conquering Poverty within the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development and emerging challenges for UNESCO in Education, Culture, Sciences, and Communication; and Developing Awareness of UNESCO Projects and Activities.

As the concept paper states, the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD) is a far-reaching and complex undertaking. Its conceptual basis, socio-economic implications, and environmental and cultural connections make it an enterprise, which potentially touches on every aspect of life. In the pursuit of education for sustainable development, the plan presents these three areas which have to be managed, first, social institutions which include democratic and participatory systems which provide opportunity for public expression, effective governance and forging of consensus; second, awareness of the resources and fragility of the environment and the effects that human activity and decisions have on its conservation; and third, sensitivity to the limits and potential of economic growth and its impact on the environment, and a commitment to assess personal and societal levels of consumption.

It is evident that values, knowledge, languages, and worldviews associated with culture determine the way issues on sustainable development are dealt with, according to the ESD paper. Here the issue of relevance and appropriateness comes in. How relevant are our present educational and media institutions in terms of providing the needed human resources? How about the content (values) of our curriculum and the media?

How to match UNESCOs goals, programs and projects with that of the UNs MDGs and the countrys MTPDP is the challenge which will require creative strategies. The seven proposed in the ESD paper are familiar to many of us involved in development planning and implementation advocacy and vision building; consultation and ownership; partnership and networks; capacity building and training; research and innovation; information and communication technologies; monitoring and evaluation.

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