Outcomes of the 4th RCE Conference of the Americas 2015

The 4th RCE Conference of the Americas was hosted by RCE Grand Rapids, USA from the 9th – 12th of August, 2015. Representatives from 11 regions spanning six nations of the Americas came together to present on projects from the past year, discuss regional and global sustainability challenges, and to collaborate on initiatives to move sustainability forward in the coming year.

Outputs emerging out of the conference include a Statement of Commitment to a Regional Strategic Plan for RCEs of the Americas, created to address three priority action areas:

1. Working together to strengthen local RCEs

2. Increasing ability to influence and synergize with other organizations

3. Contributing to urgent international initiatives.

Developing communication and capacity were key goals for the first priority action area relating to strengthening local RCEs. Developing a strategy for communicating benefits RCEs offer local stakeholders who are invested in global sustainability processes (such as sustainable consumption and production, biodiversity, and/or climate change) was a key priority. Creating a mechanism for streamlining the transition of RCE coordinators as the first generation retires was also seen as vital. Furthermore, the scaling up of individual RCE initiatives to the regional level across the Americas was seen as imperative for capacity building over the next year. Three initiatives discussed were: creating/mentoring new RCEs, creating a bilingual youth network to engage youth with RCE initiatives, and working with Indigenous knowledge projects across all regions.

Networking and collaborations were the highlights of the other two priority action areas discussed. For influencing and synergizing with other organizations, the RCEs of the Americas stressed the importance of working with foundations to promote ESD and to create RCE caucuses within existing higher education networks. By working with foundations and higher education networks, RCEs can best leverage their expertise on how to insert and upscale ESD within other organizations.

For engaging with urgent international issues, the RCEs of the Americas recognized the necessity of synergizing action with organizations that possess similar objectives. Working with funding bodies, stakeholder groups, and international agencies with similar mandates on implementing the Global Action Program (GAP) on ESD will best capitalize on the RCE’s Network’s commitment in accelerating sustainable solutions at the local level. Through clear communication in these partnerships, the RCE network can move forward on these objectives with their partners by capitalizing on strengths and avoiding duplicated efforts.

In addition, linking with organizational partners will allow RCEs to better link with global platforms relating to sustainability such as the 10 Year Framework on Sustainable Consumption and Production (10YF SCP), the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), and Article 6 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Finally, the RCEs of the Americas committed to working towards practical solutions to global sustainability challenges. The regional RCE network will work closely with UNU and partner organizations to research and identify possible solutions to sustainability issues, and disseminate policy briefs and papers on implementing these solutions throughout local, regional, and global networks.

For the presentations of the conference please click here.

United States