UNESCO Forum on ESD and GCE & 2019 GAP Partner Network Meeting

Earlier this month, UNESCO held the UNESCO Forum on ESD (Education for Sustainable Development) and GCE (Global Citizenship Education), from 2-3 July, 2019, in Hanoi, Vietnam, with the aim to discuss the future of UNESCO's ESD and GCE initiatives under the Education 2030 Agenda between 2020 and 2030.

Over 300 participants from 120 countries participated in the two-day event which was structured around the review of a UNESCO study on ESD curriculum from 10 countries in the five UN Geo-regions. The national ESD curriculums under review were Japan and South Korea (Asia-Pacific), Portugal and Sweden (Europe and North America), Costa Rica and Mexico (Latin America and the Caribbean), Kenya and Rwanda (Africa), and Morocco and Lebanon (Arab States). Trends and gaps in ESD policy and implementation in the formal school systems were discussed over the two days.

This forum was one of the first where UNESCO presented a proposed monitoring and evaluation mechanism of ESD curriculum and policy documents to serve as an indicator for Target 4.7 on ESD under SDG 4 on Quality Education. Academic researchers and policy makers were invited to discuss and contextualize the study in relation to global and national trends, highlighting opportunities to improve the delivery of ESD and GCE through formal school systems. The two-day discussions focused on the emphasis on and balance of cognitive, social-emotional, and behavioral dimensions of ESD and GCE within the presented research findings.

Following this event, the GAP Partner Network Meeting was held from 4-5 July, 2019. With 70 participants from over 40 countries in attendance, this was the final meeting of GAP Partners to review progress made by the 100+ partners under the GAP in drafting ESD policies, integrating ESD practices into school settings, training teachers to integrate ESD in curriculum, working with youth on ESD, and working with community on ESD through non-formal education.

The results presented showed that the GAP was overwhelmingly successful in initiating ESD projects and drafting ESD policies over the last five years meeting nine of the Partner Network’s ten targets, and exceeding six targets by over 150%. The results have demonstrated that there is great enthusiasm and in turn great progress for working with UN ESD initiatives at the local level, and that most of this success is due to the work of local level government partners (city and sub-national) in addition to non-formal education actors (NGOs, university networks, student unions, UN organisations partnering with local stakeholders).

The meeting also provided an opportunity to review lessons learned on the challenges and opportunities of ESD under the first five years of the SDGs. As the representative of the Global RCE Network in Partner Network 5, UNU-IAS, where the Global RCE Service Centre sits, participated in the GAP Partner Network Meeting on behalf of the Global RCE Network, providing feedback to UNESCO about the opportunities and challenges faced in implementing ESD between formal and non-formal education partners at the local level.

The results of the progress achieved by GAP partners have been summarised and released in the Global Action Programme Key Partners’ Report (2015-2018).

Photo credits and source: UNESCO