By UNESCO MGIEP
YouthINK – Day 2

A daily conference bulletin by the youth reporters

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The UNESCO Week took on a reflective tone as deliberations on achievements and charting roadmaps for ESD dominated Day 2

While the first day focussed on the larger themes and issues related to ESD, the Review of the Global Action Plan for ESD on Tuesday compelled the delegates to put on their thinking caps and address key challenges identified so far. Following several World Cafe style discussions, the participants suggested, among other things, that a dedicated space should be provided for building relationships and creating a comprehensive database to tackle the challenge of fundraising. The delegates were then encouraged to move from the challenges of the past to the foreseeable future and think about what could be achieved by 2019. This was also the focus of the debate on the ‘Future of the ESD’ that closed the proceedings of this fora at the conference. The debate was dominated by discussions on choices made by youth towards a sustainable lifestyle, with practitioners and educators arguing on the real and perceived choices of sustainable lifestyles. Many were skeptical of the relevance of ESD in the context of poverty and advocated contextual approaches as opposed to a one-size-fits all solution.

Concurrent sessions put the focus on positioning youth as ESD champions

Can we teach sustainable lifestyles-Let’s explore youth leadership and experimental learning

The critical role of the youth as leaders in the path to sustainable development was discussed with a focus on how to teach sustainable lifestyles within the limits of their environment. The facilitators encouraged the use of the Appreciative Learning Model which is based on the fact that young people are equally or more equipped to make use of today’s trends and technologies that can be used to impact change. There was a consensus that however, in order to truly empower the youth they need to be given equal importance in planning, implementing and evaluation of all sustainable development projects right from the start and not as an afterthought.

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Getting Climate Schools ready- Schools in Action

The session highlighted the impact of UNESCO Associated Schools Project Network, a worldwide organisation with a global network of 10,000 educational institutions in 181 countries and how it reaches out to school children to educate them about climate change. Some activities included competitions amongst youth, where they develop ideas on addressing climate change and the winners have an opportunity to deliver their message at parliament. Another pillar of education is Heritage Site internships, where learners spend extended time in a site learning about natural reserves. University School of Environment and Sustainability, Canada, encourage learning by group of students taking on various projects in fields of mineral compositions, spaces, plants and effects of farming. What was interesting to observe is the dedication of the teachers that take up the coordination role of these projects, more often than not it a sacrifice of their personal time.

How Can Policy Support Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) Practice?

The debate  was organized by the Ministries of Education of Japan, Kenya, and Germany and aimed to put light on the critical role of government to shape the implementation of ESD practice at the national level. The session ended with three main takeaways: (1) The need for mainstreaming ESD as one of the core concepts in the education system by formulating policy and ESD curriculum into both formal and informal education in the national level. For example  in the implementation of environmental sustainability education in Kenya; (2) the importance of working together with different stakeholders eg implementation of ESD consortium in Japan and (3) the importance of the participation of young people in the implementation of GAP ESD. Finally, all speakers agreed that young people should have an important role in the ESD policies, not only in the implementation but also in the planning, monitoring, and evaluation of the policies.

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Interview with Carlos Alberto Torres
UNESCO Chair in Global Learning and Global Citizenship

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Q) Do you think that ESD and GCED should be treated as different fora?

One of the greatest mistakes to make is to assume that GCED and ESD are competing with each other for the same audience. The reality is that one can’t be achieved without the other. From a theoretical perspective they are different and a little difficult to synchronise. One of the reasons the two are often treated as conflicting is because work on ESD intensified in the mid 90s whereas GCED got a lot of attention with the launch of the GEFI.

Q) Do you think the concepts of GCED can be embedded in curricula or does it need to be treated as a separate subject?

I do not advocate an “either or” approach. In the ideal situation GCED diffuses the concepts of civics, human rights  etc. What is needed is both, but both of good quality.

Q) Should there be a global agency responsible for implementation of Global Citizenship?

There is a line of thought that says that a committed cosmopolitan unit can effectively push for the implementation of GCED. The dilemma is that the concepts of GCED are elusive; not linked with a particular identity. But this is essential for pushing Global Citizenship education.

Q) Do you think that the widespread use of technology and rise in innovative pedagogies have strengthened or weakened the case for Global Citizenship Education?

It depends on the context but it needs to be rearticulated. I am critical of new technologies and how they are are feeding a sense of solipsism. This is a dangerous phenomena because if we are communicating less with each other, it is taking us away from the ideas that lie at the core of global citizenship. Technology is good if it is used to communicate effectively. But unfortunately that doesn’t happen.  

Sessions on Day 3 (8 March, 2017)

Plenary Session:  TAGe

Youth perspectives on the role of teachers in Education for Peace and Sustainable Development

10:30am-12:15pm

Launch of World Rescue: A mobile-based game on the Sustainable Development Goals by UNESCO MGIEP 

12:15pm-12:30pm

How can we mobilise young people and teachers to transform education for peace and sustainable development?
14:00-15:30

YesPeace Workshop by UNESCO MGIEP

Youth reporters:

Ms Sandiso Sibisi, Ms Sadaf Taimur,

Ms Armin Gonzalez, Ms Isatou Jeng,

Ms Esanju Maseka, Ms Sofia Camacho,

Mr Anagga Dwi Martha, Ms Tina Razafinimanana,

Ms Maria Celeste Medina

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