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RCE Bulletin

Issue 107: July 2020

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

Greetings from the Global RCE Service Centre! We hope all of you within the network and your communities are staying well and remain in good health.

It has been very pleasing to see and hear about the contributions and continued efforts the network has been working on during this time, and how RCEs are working through the many challenges this year has brought upon us all. These experiences are but one facet that will be discussed at the Regional RCE Meetings taking place later this year. We are looking forward to being able to come together in the second half of this year (virtually) to share and learn from each other once again. Please see below for details of updated modalities and dates for this year's Regional RCE Meetings.

Speaking of coming together, the rescheduled dates for the 12th Global RCE Conference have also been announced, now scheduled to take place from 19-21 June, 2021. We look forward to bringing you more information about the event at a later stage.

In other news, we would like to take this opportunity to extend a warm welcome to our new Programme Head joining the Secretariat at the Global RCE Service Centre - Dr. Akio Takemoto, who has started with us this month. On this note, we would like to sincerely thank Dr. Hiroaki Takiguchi for his contributions leading the Secretariat at the Global RCE Service Centre over the past two years as Project Director, overseeing the Global RCE Network.

Finally, we would like to thank all our RCEs for completing the recent survey on RCE responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. The information from the survey will be shared with the RCE community and other partners in order to examine how multi-stakeholder partnerships can respond during times of crisis.

If your RCE would like to share any news, upcoming events, open calls, or publications for an upcoming bulletin, we would love to hear from you! Please complete this form and email your submission to the Global RCE Service Centre at rceservicecentre@unu.edu (submissions close on the 15th of each month).

The Global RCE Service Centre 

Rescheduled Dates: 12th Global RCE Conference

(Photo credit: The University of Edinburgh)

Originally scheduled for November this year, the Global RCE Service Centre is pleased to announce the new dates for the 12th Global RCE Conference, to be hosted by RCE Scotland in Edinburgh, Scotland. This event will now be held from 19-21 June, 2021.

In the lead-up to the event, RCE Scotland will also be hosting a pre-conference webinar in early 2021, allowing us all to connect and dialogue virtually in the interim, until we can all gather in Scotland for the in-person event later that year.

Please 'Save the Date' and stay tuned for further announcements in due course. As always, the situation regarding COVID-19 is continuing to be monitored in relation to this and other RCE events. Updates will also be posted on the 12th Global RCE Conference page here.

Updates: Regional RCE Meetings

In response to COVID-19, all Regional RCE Meetings this year will now be shifting online. As a result, some previously announced dates have changed. Please see below for the confirmed details, and visit the meeting pages for further details.

  • 10th African Regional Meeting - hosted by RCE Minna, consisting of two online meetings (1 and 15 September, 2020) - Registrations will open soon.
  • 13th Asia-Pacific Regional Meeting - hosted by RCE Kyrgyzstan, consisting of four online meetings (10 September, 24 September, 8 October, and 22 October, 2020), followed by an in-person meeting (held in 2021, date TBA) - Registrations for the first session are now open (see below).
  • 9th Americas Regional Meeting - hosted by RCE Salisbury, consisting of online meetings (13 and 14 October, 2020), followed by an in-person meeting (held in 2021, date TBA) - Registrations will open soon.
  • Europe Regional Meeting 2020 - hosted by RCE East Midlands, consisting of two online meetings (24 and 25 November, 2020) - Call for participation open now (see below). Registrations will open in September.
Registrations Open: 1st Online Session of the 13th Asia-Pacific Regional Meeting

(Photo credit: Elena Kreuzberg)

Hosted by RCE Kyrgyzstan, the 13th Asia-Pacific Regional Meeting will consist of two parts under the theme of 'Building Capacity for Sustainability'. The first part will be divided into four online sessions starting on 10 September followed by sessions on 24 September, 8 October, and 22 October, 2020. The second part of this regional meeting will be held in-person in Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic in 2021 (dates TBA). The online sessions will kick-start the meeting, before gathering in person next year.

The goal of the 1st online session to be held on 10 September, 2020 is to discuss the role of ESD during the COVID-19 pandemic and implement sustainable development principles in the Asia-Pacific region. RCE members and stakeholders will discuss the response and possibilities of ESD during and after the pandemic.

The registration for the 1st session is now open until 3 September, 2020. Full details and the registration form are available here.

Call for Participation: Europe Regional Meeting 2020

(Photo credit: De Montfort University)

The Europe Regional RCE Meeting 2020 is looking for participants to join and contribute to the programme. The two-day online event aims to bring together members of European RCEs, and anyone with an interest in collaborative local action and learning for sustainability.

This year's meeting is hosted by RCE East Midlands in the UK and will be held under the theme 'Climate Emergency: Joined-up Action'. The event takes place online from 24-25 November, 2020, with day one open to all, and day two open to current and prospective RCE members. Presentations and resources will be available online during the week preceding the event.

RCE members and others are invited to participate in a range of engaging formats. All active RCEs across Europe are encouraged to share a short update on their activities across the past year. In addition, contributions are sought on the conference theme, on recent RCE projects and of relevant issues for the work of RCEs. Any short talks will be pre-recorded, leaving space during the conference for discussion on talks or interactive online workshops.

Offers of participation are sought by 23 August, 2020. Full details and the submission form are available here.

Upcoming Events

Webinar: 'Indigenous People in COVID-19 Era' to Mark International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples
10 August, 2020, 13:00-15:00 JST (online)

To mark the 'International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples' (9 August, 2020), RCE East Kalimantan and RCE Srinagar will hold a webinar the following day on Monday 10th August, 2020.

The Asia-Pacific region is home to a large number of Indigenous communities - these communities are present in many RCEs, while several RCEs have also been working with them on a number of issues. This webinar is a chance to share activities, experiences, and the challenges that Indigenous communities are faced with, as well as any COVID-19 impacts if relevant.

RCEs in the Asia-Pacific region interested in participating are requested to email RCE Srinagar (rcesrinagar@gmail.com) by 27 July, 2020, and send their presentation through to RCE Srinagar by 5 August, 2020. Slots will be reserved only after receiving presentations, and will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. Each presenter will be given 10 minutes to present. RCEs in regions outside the Asia-Pacific are also welcome to participate in this webinar. If the time zone makes live participation difficult, RCEs may send their pre-recorded presentations (only up to 10 minutes duration), which can be played in the webinar. Note that webinar recordings will also be made available in the public domain. Details on how to join (no prior registration is needed) can be found here.

Webinar: 'Youth and Sustainability in COVID-19 Era' to Mark International Youth Day 2020

12 August, 2020, 14:00-16:30 AEST (online)

To mark 'International Youth Day 2020' (IYD), RCE Greater Western Sydney and RCE Srinagar will hold a webinar on Wednesday 12th August, 2020.

Young people are powerful agents of change and progress when they are educated and empowered to participate in decision-making. Yet around the world, too many youths are being left behind. IYD is both an annual celebration of the role of young women and men as essential partners in promoting human rights and development, but also an opportunity to raise awareness of the challenges and hardships facing the world's youth.

It is intended for this webinar to provide an opportunity to hear from young presenters (35 years old and younger), from school students to young career researchers. Presenters can also be accompanied by ('older') RCE leads/coordinators if needed, who can elaborate on their youth activities.

RCEs in the Asia-Pacific region interested in participating are requested to email RCE Srinagar (rcesrinagar@gmail.com) by 27 July, 2020, and send their presentation through to RCE Srinagar by 5 August, 2020. Slots will be reserved only after receiving presentations, and will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. Each presenter will be given 10 minutes to present. Before submitting, please refer to the presentation guidelines prepared by the event organiser here. RCEs in regions outside the Asia-Pacific are also welcome to participate in this webinar. If the time zone makes live participation difficult, RCEs may send their pre-recorded presentations (only up to 10 minutes duration), which can be played in the webinar. Note that webinar recordings will also be made available in the public domain. Details on how to join (no prior registration is needed) can be found here.

Open Calls

Join In: My COVID-19 Story #YouthOfUNESCO Campaign

UNESCO is inviting young people to submit their stories about their COVID-19 experiences in written or video format, sharing any actions they have taken or creative ideas developed to face these challenging times. Stories will be disseminated through UNESCO's social media channels and will also contribute to the upcoming 'Youth as Researchers - COVID-19 project', which will collect and consolidate knowledge and data on, by and with young people around a series of key issues arising from the COVID-19 crisis (e.g. inequality and discrimination), as well as examine the impact of the crisis on young people (especially young women - who are out of school or unemployed because of the crisis). Read more

Call for Papers: Special Issue on Pandemics, Socially Equitable Economic Advancement, and Resilient and Sustainable Systems

Sustainability: The Journal of Record invites contributions to a special issue focused on pandemics, socially equitable economic advancement, and resilient and sustainable systems. The special issue will explore the impacts of the pandemic, how it has revealed injustices across economic advancement and other sustainability measures, and how it may inform risk-based and opportunity-based best practices that move communities toward sustainable prosperity. The deadline for abstract submissions is 18 August, 2020, with paper submissions due by 14 October, 2020. More details are available here.

Have Your Say: Environmental Education Experiences at the Time of COVID-19

The World Environmental Education Congress (WEEC) Network has launched a call to educators and environmental educators for testimonials and stories on how their way of working and providing environmental education has changed, as well as what strategies and tools have worked in this period. The objective of this call is to conduct a comparison on the good practices that have emerged and the methodologies adopted. The testimonials and experiences collected will be shared in future events from the WEEC Network in 2020. The deadline for submissions is 31 August, 2020. Read more

Latest News

RCEs in Greater Burlington and Puerto Rico Collaborate on Sustainable Food Systems Research Project

What bolsters the resilience of smaller farms to sustain themselves during times of economic, geo-climatic and socio-political unrest? This question is at the heart of a new collaborative study currently being undertaken by members of RCE Greater Burlington and RCE Puerto Rico that focuses on identifying essential elements of sustainable food systems. The members are conducting research in the dual geographies of Vermont and Puerto Rico and examining how humans interact with each other and integrate with the non-human world in the production and distribution of food. Building on the UN's Sustainable Development Goals and Principles of Agroecology as organising frameworks, they are implementing an approach that involves conducting background research on metrics, indicators and data integration tools of agricultural sustainability on small farms, and engaging local growers to inquire about the key practices involved with cultivating healthy food systems. Read more

RCE Yogyakarta's Contribution in Fighting COVID-19 through ESD Action

(Photo credit: RCE Yogyakarta)

Responding to the COVID-19 situation, RCE Yogyakarta has been working on a number of activities including raising community awareness on COVID-19 by disseminating information (such as symptoms to look out for) from verified and reliable sources, encouraging batik clothing manufacturers to produce PPE and fabric masks, and looking for alternatives ways to utilise ICT given the disruptions to trade and supply chains. Read more

UK and Ireland RCEs Online Forum Considers Role of RCEs Within and Beyond COVID-19

Steering Committee members from six RCEs (from the UK and Ireland) came together on 30 June, 2020 to consider the role of RCEs within and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. The focus of this online forum was to provide solidarity and support, to share challenges and opportunities associated with the pandemic and to further consider the collaborations across UKI RCEs to be prioritised in the coming year in light of emerging or emergent opportunities and challenges. Dr. Philip Vaughter from UNU-IAS gave the keynote speech, and the event was chaired by Charlotte Holland, RCE Dublin. Read the full report of this productive session here.

HESI Special Event Looks at Higher Education's Role in Rebuilding for the Future

On 8 July 2020, UNU-IAS co-organised one of six Special Events of this year's UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). The Higher Education Sustainability Initiative (HESI) Special Event focused on how higher education can be redesigned to support sustainable development and regeneration, as well as how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the higher education sector. Read more

UNU-IAS Joins Universities in Supporting UN Secretary-General's Call for a Decade of Action on the SDGs

In an online meeting on 9-10 July 2020, UNU-IAS joined universities from across the globe in discussing support for the Decade of Action to deliver the SDGs by 2030. By generating and mobilising knowledge, the world's leading universities are uniquely positioned to accelerate progress on the SDGs. This role is more important than ever as COVID-19 threatens to reverse decades of progress on sustainable development, with disproportionate impacts on the most vulnerable people.

The meeting was hosted by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), in partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation and Columbia University. It engaged over 200 participants from more than 65 countries, comprising university presidents, chancellors, and vice-chancellors, as well as senior UN leaders. The discussion highlighted the commitment of universities to the SDGs, and their role as independent institutions that innovate in the interests of humanity. Read more

HESI Roundtable Considers Next Steps for Redesigning Further Education

Building on the discussions from the Higher Education Sustainability Initiative (HESI) Special Event held at the UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), a HESI Roundtable event was held on 15 July 2020 to reflect on the discussions and work towards actionable next steps. The event engaged various stakeholders in higher education to outline their role and contributions in redesigning higher education for sustainable development and to collectively outline a path forward to support this vision. A total of 17 HESI members gave presentations describing the steps their organisation has taken thus far, as well as the future directions planned, including how they hope to engage with the HESI community. Read more

RCE Hyogo-Kobe Youth Conduct Online Projects for the New Normal

(Photo credit: RCE Hyogo-Kobe)

'ESD Platform WILL', a youth organisation working in collaboration with RCE Hyogo-Kobe, was built in 2019 as a collective body of various young people and volunteer groups to promote ESD and create a sustainable society.

The platform creates encounters and linkages essential for realising a sustainable society. Its volunteer programmes empower youth as they focus on leveraging experiences within the field, no matter how small.

Due to the difficulties that COVID-19 has presented in carrying out their initial plans for 2020, instead the group decided to produce two projects which allowed for online participation; a 'Zoom Photo Shooting Event', and an online conference, in which they discussed how they could be active during the COVID-19 era. Read more

RCE Greater Western Sydney Co-Hosts 'Bridging the Disconnect' Roundtable 

(Photo credit: RCE Greater Western Sydney)

RCE Greater Western Sydney co-hosted a virtual roundtable discussion, 'Bridging the Disconnect - Engaging and Learning in the Digital Divide' on 25 June, 2020. The aim of the event was to foster discussion, collaboration and sharing of innovative forms of engagement and learning - going far and beyond most obvious solutions - with communities who are not able to connect digitally or not accustomed to the 'new normal' of being online due to the implications of COVID-19.

Facilitated by Dr. Zinaida Fadeeva, three presenters from RCE Pune, RCE Greater Phnom Penh, and RCE Bangalore presented on their community projects from WASH to Farming, as well as their mechanisms of engaging. Over 25 virtual participants joined the discussion from RCEs in the Asia-Pacific and African regions. Slides and project summaries from the event can be accessed here. A recording is also available to watch here.

RCE Central Semenanjung Translates SDGs into Action for a Sustainable Campus & Community

(Photo credit: RCE Central Semenanjung)

Since 2015, RCE Central Semenanjung, through its secretariat - University Malaya (UM) Community & Sustainability Centre or well-known as 'UMCares' has organised a competition for in-house university students named the 'UMCares Competition'. This year, UMCares along with the strategic partnership of UM Sustainability & Living Labs Secretariat (UMSLLS) have redesigned the competition with the aim to enhance and showcase eco-campus and community initiatives at the UM residential colleges level. Two categories were open for this competition; (i) Community Award with the theme 'Quality Education for the Community'; and (ii) Eco Challenge Award with the theme 'Translating SDGs into Action for a Sustainable Campus'. The competition acts as a platform to acknowledge and recognise the outstanding social responsibility contribution made by UM students towards the environment and community using SDGs and their targets as one of the evaluation criteria. A total of eight from 11 residential colleges involving close to 100 students participated in this competition, with three winners awarded for each category. Read more


New Publication from UNESCO Bangkok & UNU-IAS Presents Innovative Multi-Stakeholder Approaches at the Local Level by RCEs in the Asia-Pacific Region

A new publication recently launched from UNESCO Bangkok and UNU-IAS, 'Multi-stakeholder Approaches to Education for Sustainable Development in Local Communities: Towards Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in Asia', presents a collection of case studies from RCEs in the Asia-Pacific region, demonstrating innovative approaches to ESD through multi-stakeholder partnerships at the local level.

Local communities are the driving force of a sustainable society and a crucial part of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The 11 case studies featured highlight the importance of community engagement and action, whilst aiming to facilitate collaborative and transformative learning in order to affect change for sustainability. Themes covered range from health, to biodiversity conservation, responsible consumption and production, and sustainable cities, contributing to a broad spectrum of SDGs in the process.

First presented at the Symposium on 'Sustainable Development Goals: From Goals to Action', in conjunction with the 10th Asia-Pacific RCE Regional Meeting held from 2 to 4 November 2017 at the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi, India, these examples demonstrate how education and learning coupled with multi-stakeholder engagement can effectively drive community action to tackle sustainable development challenges at the local level and towards achieving the global goals.

The publication can be viewed here. Thank you to all of the RCEs and those involved in the production of this publication, and for the contributions and support from UNESCO Bangkok.

Education in a Post-COVID World: Nine Ideas for Public Action

The International Commission on the Futures of Education, established by UNESCO in 2019, has published the report 'Education in a Post-COVID World: Nine Ideas for Public Action', which presents nine key ideas for navigating through the COVID-19 crisis and its aftermath, in the form of concrete actions that will advance education tomorrow. These ideas invite debate, engagement and action by governments, international organisations, civil society, educational professionals, as well as learners and stakeholders at all levels. Access the publication here.

Watch: UNESCO’s "Next Normal" Campaign

UNESCO has launched a global campaign challenging our perception of normality, as countries begin to emerge from the pandemic. A short video presents factual information about the world before and during the pandemic, inviting viewers to question their ideas about what is normal, suggesting that we have accepted the unacceptable for far too long.

The "Next Normal" campaign is part of a wider effort by UNESCO to reflect on the world to come, which includes the UNESCO Forum and the Futures of Education initiative. Watch the video here.

Macro-Level Studies of Direct and Indirect Relationships between SDG 4 and the 16 SDGs

This paper, published in the Modern Economy journal by an author from RCE Greater Yenagoa, examined SDG 4 from two levels: Goal to Targets (SDG 4 versus the targets/goals of the other 16 SDGs); and Targets to Targets, which is a comparison between the 10 SDG 4 targets and the remaining 159 targets of the others. This resulted in the identification of 38 direct-relationships and 322 indirect relationships between SDG 4 targets and the targets of the remaining 16 SDGs. These findings confirm that SDGs are inter-dependent (direct relationships) or interrelated (indirect relationships) in many respects. At the level of interventions, the school feeding programme, which can qualify as an intervention to reduce the incidence of out-of-school children amply illustrates inter-relationships, as it is shown to be impacting directly on SDG 2 by addressing hunger and SDG 1 (poverty) through increased revenues for farmers and service providers. For developing nations to derive the greatest benefits from the implementation of the SDGs, they must give priority to interventions that have the potentials to achieve multi-goal needs/inherent positive multiplier effects. Read more or access the paper here.

COVID-19 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals: Threat to Solidarity or an Opportunity?

COVID-19, as a pandemic, is impacting institutions around the world. Its scope and economic dimensions also mean that it poses a major threat towards achieving the UN SDGs. A team from RCE Hamburg and region, the Inter-University Sustainable Development Research Programme (IUSDRP), and the European School of Sustainability Science and Research (ESSSR) has produced a paper which discusses how the pandemic may influence the SDGs and could affect their implementation. The methods used entail an analysis of the literature, observations and an assessment of current world trends. The results obtained point out that, while COVID-19 has become a priority to many health systems in developing nations, they still need to attend to many other existing diseases such as malaria, yellow fever and others.

The paper suggests that, due to its wide scope and areas of influence, COVID-19 may also jeopardize the process of the implementation of the SDGs. It sends a cautious warning about the need to continue to put an emphasis on the implementation of the SDGs, so that the progress achieved to date is not endangered. The paper can be viewed here.

UNESCO Courier: A Whole New World, Reimagined by Women

The UNESCO Courier asked women across the globe to imagine what life will be like after the crisis. Journalists, authors, intellectuals, museum directors, scientists give voice to their thoughts - to reimagine a whole new world, whether it is the future of museums, changes in schools, the rise of disinformation, or the challenges of scientific research. Read more