YouthINK – Day 1

A daily conference bulletin by the youth reporters 

Monday, March 6, 2017

On opening of Day 1, call for collaboration, compassion and co-creation sets ball rolling

The Indigenous Elder Claudette Commanda set the tone by bringing the message of preservation and sustainability to the forefront. She was followed by Christina Cameron, the President of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO and Soo-Hyang Choi, Director for Inclusion, Peace and Sustainable Development, UNESCO, both of whom reiterated the mandate and efforts of their organizations in helping achieve SDG 4. Isao Kiso, Permanent Delegate of Japan to UNESCO talked about the journey of ESD in his country from when Japan proposed the decade for ESD at the UN to its implementation today. Breaking the key message down to an individual’s perspective Dr. Anantha Kumar Duraiappah, director of UNESCO MGIEP urged the participants to show empathy by ‘firing their Gandhi neurons’ and truly listening to the youth’s perspectives on ESD.


Highlights of the concurrent sessions

Empowering students to become sustainability change makers

The workshop, co-organised by two winners of the UNESCO-Japan Prize for outstanding projects related to Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), had two goals. To gain a better understanding of ESD outcomes and to understand the best initiatives that help achieve these outcomes. The facilitators presented the competences for educators in education for sustainable development: learning to do, learning to be, learning to know, and learning to live together. Jamie Agombar stressed on the skills and attributes that students should have for the development of ESD: connection to nature, motivation, critical thinking, sustainable thinking, and ability to bring about change, communication skills and relationship building. The last part of workshop presented inspiring examples of student-led ESD work.

Educating the heart and mind: holistic classroom practices

The workshop, facilitated by Penny Willis (training and program specialist of Lions Clubs International Foundation), Yvonne Feiger (founder of CLIC in Mexico) and Atenea Rosado-Viurques (Federal Advisor of Minister of Public Education in Mexico). Touched upon the relationship between ESD and

GCED in the format of a ‘World Café’.  The participants discussed the limitations of Global Citizenship and Education for Sustainable Development that exist within their school district and/or school. The workshop included sessions on defining social and emotional learning as well as hopes transmitted through ESD and GCED.

What does ESD mean for African Teachers?

One of the main focus areas included environmental education; there is a need to collectively have an impact on environmental issues and to do so, a strong association across Africa is needed. The teachers should be  at the forefront as they have a direct channel to children and the next generation.  Emphasis was also placed on the need to mainstream best practices from across the continent to share knowledge with others. The debate concluded with an affirmation that ESD is absolutely necessary for African teachers, now more than ever.

Transforming Learning Environments-what works best?

The session, moderated by Ms. Carolee Buckler placed emphasis on Whole Institution Approaches (WIAs). According to UNESCO reports, Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is best adopted in WIAs. The various interpretation of WIAs were discussed across the six domains of governance, research and evaluation, curriculum teaching and learning, community and partnership, facilities and operations and building capacity. Ms. Ann Finlayson, CEO of Sustainability and Environmental Education demonstrated the result of a global survey of WIA which found that many schools are not taking a holistic approach to environment, society (global citizenship) and economy; scaling up within institutions is needed; action learning approaches need to be embedded; although vision statements are common, participation by all is very low; teacher performance is rarely linked to ESD.

Hands on mind: Connecting teachers and students in vibrant communities on ESD and GCED via modern IT tools.

Untitled1The session saw participation from Kerstin Forsberg, a biologist and also the founder of Planeta Oceano in Peru which is a GAP partner and was started in 2007 to bring awareness about ecology to schools. Nowadays one of its more important projects is connecting schools across borders (Peru-Ecuador) making students, schools, fishermen and communities  work on the protection of manta rays. Alexander Iscenco spoke about the importance of gamification for teaching ESD and GCED. A case in point was MEGA game which uses augmented reality for training participants on ESD. They also improve board games created by teachers for teaching conflict resolution. While Sabine Detzel talked about the UNESCO associated school networks, Pranshu Singhal presented the “Education Microsoft” where teachers from across the globe can create and share their education plans, ways to ensure critical thinking in their students. Additionally, he also showed how partnering with skype they connect students using the live feature of Skype translator.


Interview with Masami Miyazaki,
Executive Director, The Goi Peace Foundation


Q) Do you think the role of teachers in ESD is becoming more or less relevant in today’s times?

The relevance should increase but is being affected the presence of more sources of information, peer-to-peer learning etc.

Q) UNESCO MGIEP conducted a survey last year that showed little or no difference between those who have had  some “peace education” and those who hadn’t. Why do you think this exists?

Sometimes, peace education focuses on outer peace eg. conflict resolution, However if there is lack of peace internally there will not be a change in mindsets. Since children spend most time in schools, these places of learning need to provide a space for such reflections and inner development not as a special subject but as embedded in regular subjects being already taught.

Q) What role does the youth have in achieving ESD?

The youth has a very special role to play; they are always innovative, quick to think of alternatives and their synergies are their USP. The youth must participate actively in Education for peace and sustainable development.


Sessions for Day 2 (7 March, 2017)

Plenary Session 3  

Review of the Implementation of the Global Action Programme on ESD
Key Findings from the GAP Mid-Term report: Interview with Mr. Scott Pulizzi, UNESCO consultant 9:00-9:45am

Concurrent session 5.4

Debate: How can policy support ESD practice? (organized by Ministries of Education of  Japan, Kenya and Germany) 14:00-15:30pm

Plenary Session 4: ESD – are we on the right track?

A town-hall debate with different perspectives on the future of ESDSession 4: Topic 16:00-17:30

Youth reporters:

Ms Oleksandra ZAKHAROVA


Ms Clémence BOURLET

Mr Jerome COWANS


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