Issue #53: November 2015

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Issue 53: November 2015


Message from the Global RCE Service Centre:


Dear colleagues and friends,

Over the course of the last three months two regional RCE conferences on different continents, America and Africa have taken place. The Global RCE Service Centre has worked hard during the last weeks to make this possible and a meaningful experience to everyone attending.

It has been a pleasure to see so many RCEs coming together, networking and discussing important topics in sustainability and addressing current issues. Both conferences allowed for closer interaction between the different RCEs, networking and finding synergies within the RCE network.

The 4th RCE Conference of the Americas was hosted by RCE Grand Rapids on 9-12 August, 2015. Representatives from eleven regions spanning six nations of the Americas came together to present projects from the past year, discuss regional and global challenges in sustainable development, and collaborate on initiatives to move sustainability forward in 2016. Outputs of the conference included a Regional Strategic Plan for RCEs of the Americas, that addressed three priority action areas: (1) Working together to strengthen local RCEs; (2) Increasing the ability to influence and synergize with other organizations; and (3) Contributing to urgent international initiatives. To read the full summary of the event please visit the RCE Portal. Pictures of the conference have also been uploaded on facebook.

The 5th African RCE Conference took place on 14-16 October in Entebbe, Uganda. The conference was aligned along the main topic"Building a stronger African RCE Network for transforming lives and communities though ESD". There were lively exchanges amongst the participants on several sub-themes such as the role of higher education and research in transforming society through ESD, and empowering and mobilizing the youth to effectively contribute to sustainable development.

During the conference several important questions were addressed: What is the role of the private sector in accelerating sustainable solutions at local level? How can we promote indigenous and traditional knowledge and biodiversity in ESD? How can we enhance peace building for sustainable development through education and finally how can the RCE network advance innovative policies and local solutions for community transformation? For a full report, presentations and photos of the event click here.

Annual Reports

For 2015, we have received 66 annual reports with almost 20 award submissions. This is the highest number of report submissions to date. We are currently analysing the reports to find synergies and making sure the content is searchable online. This will allow the different RCEs to see what others are doing and what commons exist. Once the RCE Service Centre has screened the reports and projects, we will select specific content to highlight it through the different communication channels such as an article on the website or share it with the whole community on facebook. Another option could be an article in the UNU One World magazine.

We will contact you individually to provide additional input in the form of visuals (photos or graphics), data, anecdotes and any other necessary information to make the contribution compelling and interesting to the overall community. Highlighting your work through UNU-IAS and other channels is a great way to communicate what you do and share your knowledge and expertise. We hope this will motivate everyone to contribute more content in the future and to increase knowledge sharing and exchange of ideas.


The Global RCE Service Centre


Upcoming Events


Events organised by RCEs

Education as a driver for SDGs

11-13 January, 2016
Ahmedabad, India

The conference is organised by the Centre for Environment and Education (CEE), India in partnership with UNESCO, UNEP, and the Government of India. As the UN has finalized the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) proposed by Open Working Groups, it is important for ESD communities to look specifically at each goal and determine how education can play an effective role in helping achieve this. The conference aims to recognize education as a key enabler to the broader realization of SDGs. More details on the conference can be found here.

3rd Youth Virtual Conference

2 March, 2016
Grand Rapids, USA

Grand Rapids RCE introduced an initiative to host an annual Youth Virtual Conference on sustainability related issues. The 3rd Annual Youth Virtual Conference on “Energy Systems and Sustainability” will be held on March 2nd, 2016. Multiple secondary schools (ages 14-19) from RCE cities across the world will be linked in a four hour, peer-education symposium. Each class/student group will present their research on sustainability related energy issues of interest to them and their region.

The following RCE cities have participated in the past and/or have expressed interest in participating: Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States, Portland, Oregon, United States, Curitiba, Brazil, Kerkrade (Rhine-Meuse), Netherlands, Lima-Callao, Peru, Bogotá, Colegio Montessori in Medellin, Columbia, Nairobi, Kenya, and Saskatchewan, Canada.

The benefits of this conference are many and include the following objectives:

(1) Create a global learning community in order to understand the complex issues of sustainability related to food systems and security

(2) Develop a skills set of collaboration, communication and problem solving among bright young people

(3) Understand how local actions have global impacts

The deadline for registration is December 18th, 2015. For the conference abstract, to register and for more information please clickhere.

Other Events

Urban Thinker Campus: Health and well being in the city we need

24-27 January, 2016
Sarawak, Malaysia

The United Nations University’s International Institute for Global Health (UNU-IIGH), as an Associate Partner of the World Urban Campaign will coordinate the Urban Thinkers Campus on Health and Wellbeing. This is a global event to re-imagine sustainable urban development in the interest of human health and environmental wellbeing. To achieve this ambitious goal, a wide variety of stakeholders such as civil society, grass roots, and professionals from health, planning, architecture, businesses, women’s and children’s groups, will join the campus. For more information on this event, click here.

International Seminar - Getting climate-ready: ASPnet schools’ response to climate change, 7 December, 2015, Paris, France – click here

First Global Forum on Green Economy Learning, 16-18 December 2015, Paris, France – click here

4th World Congress of Biosphere Reserves: UNESCO’s Biosphere Reserves for Sustainable Development, 14-17 March, 21016, Lima, Peru – click here

Global Climate Observation: The Road to the Future, 2-4 March, 2015, Amsterdam, The Netherlands – click here

For more events visit our ESD calendar.


Open Calls


Reminder: Global RCE Youth Video Project

We kindly request RCE Coordinators to identify leading youth in their RCE community to record a short video (max. 1 minute) of themselves answering the questions in below link. We ask RCE Coordinators to work with the youth to help them frame their answers. The initiative is to give youth of the RCEs a voice at the upcoming United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP) taking place from 30 November to 11 December 2015, in Paris, France. This is a gentle reminder of previous calls to engage the youth for this upcoming important event. Read more.

Youth Survey on Target 4.7 of the SDGs

UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEP) in partnership with the UNESCO ESD section is conducting a survey to understand youth perspectives on SDGs, with special reference to Target 4.7 which looks at Education for Peace, Sustainability and Global Citizenship (EPSG). The results of this exercise will play an important part in developing the youth led monitoring strategy of SDG Target 4.7. The survey can be accessed here.

Online Course: Foundations of Sociocracy

The online course "Foundations of Sociocracy" is a six weeks comprehensive training for essential tools for applying sociocracy (values, principles and practices) in organizations. It includes (1) consent decision making, (2) circle (policy) meetings, roles, and elections, organizing work, (3) organizational structure – how to scale equivalence, consent and transparency, (4) operational effectiveness, and (5) inclusive facilitation and leadership. There will be six online live sessions in January and February. Videos can also be watched later on. For more information, click here.


Green Growth Indicator Consultant, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

The Global Green Growth Institute is looking for a Green Growth Indicator Consultant based in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia for the period of November 2015 to May 2016.Read more.

UNU-IAS intern for ESD, Tokyo, Japan

We are looking for an intern to join our Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) team for 3 to 6 months. He/she will be working on both flagship projects the Global RCE Network and ProSPER.Net (Promotion of Sustainability in Postgraduate Education and Research), starting in December. Please spread the word! For more information on this position, click here.


Latest News


RCE Middle Albania hosts first round table at UN Office to implement SDGs

In the context of the post-2015 development agenda and the GAP and in order to make a tangible contribution to the implementation of the SDGsRCE Middle Albania will adopt a long-term programme that will run until 2030. This will be developed in collaboration with interested partners, actors, and developers, through a process of consultations, and working sessions.

The main objective is to use the RCE's unique individual approach to implement the SDGs regionally, based on the work already accomplished since 2012. In order to achieve this, on November 4, 2015, RCE Middle Albania organized the first round table at the UN office in Albania. RCE Middle Albania partners and UN representatives discussed the focal points and UN objectives regarding the implementation of the SDGs. The most appropriate SDGs for the country and region were identified and discussed in relation to the RCE Middle Albania programme. Regional actors and partners expressed their commitment to contribute to SDG implementation in the country.

The meeting will be followed up by more detailed sessions on specific SDGs as for example the dissemination of Goal 7 - “Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all" as part of the Energy Chapter of the Action Plan on ESD for Albania.

Report of the AASHE Conference, Minneapolis, USA

The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) held its annual conference at the end of October, marking the organization’s first decade with the theme of “Transforming Sustainability Education.”

UNU-IAS Research Fellow Philip Vaughter facilitated a workshop on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Global Action Programme (GAP) on ESD along with RCE Greater Portland coordinator Kim Smith, UNESCO Chair Charles Hopkins, Professor Hongwei Tan of the China Green University Network (CGUN), and Rick Nader of the University of North Texas. The focus of the session was to discuss the role higher education institutions can play in implementing SDGs and the GAP, and how education networks, such as ProSPER.Net, the RCE Network, and the CGUN can help facilitate local to global (termed ‘glocal’) action on UN objectives, while providing service and responding to needs from local communities.

The theme of shifting from competition to collaboration was stressed by both RCE and CGUN representatives, as they discussed how both networks allow universities to learn from one another so that all institutions are able to emerge with better sustainability practices and policies. The use of exchange internationally was also discussed, and Professor Tan. and Dr. Nader deliberated how exchange programmes between Chinese and American universities have allowed ideas to diffuse between campuses quickly in regards to campus operation and curriculum design. Read more

HESI organises COP side event at UNESCO Headquarters

The public seminar ‘From Rio to Paris: Higher Education for Climate Change Action’, on 14 October 2015, was recognized as the official side event of the XXI Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP21). The meeting was attended by representatives of the Higher Education Sustainability Initiative (HESI) and chaired by Prof Dzul Razak, the President of theInternational Association of Universities (IAU).

The event reflected on the achievements and challenges of higher education institutions in research, learning and community engagement with respect to climate adaptation. The discussions revolved around the facilitation of academic and scientific inputs into the formulation of climate policies and development of capacity of communities to address consequences of climate change, through learning and action.

Pierre Henri Guignard, Secretary General and COP21 Representative welcomed HESI’s report “Higher Education Climate Action for Sustainable Development” and the Open Letter written by The Global Alliance of Networks and Associations of Higher Education for Sustainable Development (GA), a global alliance of tertiary and higher education sustainability and student networks and associations. This "network of networks" was inspired by HESI and is the collective voice of the world’s universities, colleges and students that affirm their commitment to the critical role that universities, colleges and students play in finding and implementing solutions for climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Their voice needs to be heard at COP21 when the UN Climate Conference takes place in Paris, France during the first week of December. Representatives of tertiary, higher education and student sustainability networks, as well as associations and institutions are invited to endorse the Open Letter expressing their commitment towards more sustainable climate resilient development until end of November.

On 15 October 2015, the HESI sponsors met to discuss the 2030 agenda and the SDGs. The meeting was well attended with representatives from the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), United Nations Education and Scientific Organization (UNESCO), UNU-IAS, UN Global Compact/Principles of Responsible Management Education (PRME), the Global Alliance, University of Gloucestershire, and the Senior Adviser to HESI from Kedge Business School.

Key outcomes of this meeting were that HESI will use the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs as its roadmap, focusing each year on one or two SDGs in conjunction with landmark events of the UN System. As of 1 January, 2016, UNEP will serve as convener of HESI, and will liaise closely with UNHABITAT on HESI’s work on SDG11 – sustainable cities ahead of HABITAT+20, the cities summit, analogous to HESI’s work on SDG 13 – climate change, ahead of COP21 in 2015. In 2017, HESI will focus on SDG 4 education, ahead of the GAP Review led by UNESCO and the Tiblisi Conference on Environmental Education.

ASEAN+3 Leadership Programme discusses how to expand SCP systems in Asia Pacific

The 8th ASEAN+3 Leadership Programme (LP) on Sustainable Production and Consumption (SCP) was held back to back with the SWITCH-Asia Workshop on ASEAN and SCP Governance in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Both events were hosted by the Economic Planning Unit of the Prime Minister’s Department of Malaysia in partnership with three UN agencies, UNU-IAS, UNEP, and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), as well as the ASEAN Secretariat in collaboration with the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

There were 27 participants at the event in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with mainly mid to senior level government officials from nine countries (eight of the ten ASEAN Member States; and one of the three dialogue partner countries) – Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, and China. This year’s ASEAN+3 LP constituted the participation of mixed inter-ministerial delegations from countries, reflecting the cross-cutting nature of SCP in national governance. Both the LP and the workshop were geared towards the understanding and implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Participants discussed issues critical for expanding SCP systems in the region with one particular focus being policy and decision making tools to finance and support SCP in the small and medium sized enterprise (SME) sector. SMEs constitute a significant sector in the ASEAN region’s economy. Learning cases engaged participants in analyzing and generating policy options. This was particularly highlighted in the transformative potential of green SMEs, taking into account their respective challenges and solutions.

Policy instruments proposed included SME capacity development, green financing, innovative investment schemes, sustainable public procurement, and integrated policy measures for SCP that can ensure this sector’s transformative contribution to competitiveness, job creation, and economic development of the region. At the same time, attendees learned how a favourable investment climate for resource efficient and cleaner production can be created for SMEs. Read more about the outcomes here.

EcoChallenge 2015 engages many RCEs

The EcoChallenge 2015 just wrapped up with over 4,300 people proving that small actions add up to real change! The commitment of people and their communities have been impressive to see over the course of the past two weeks. EcoChallengers have made a real difference. Taking the time to try on new habits and making a difference in a community is no small thing.

RCE Bogota engaged many young people during the EcoChallenge implementing various activities such as organizing training on how to save water in vulnerable communities, and planting trees in different communities. They also organized a meeting with coordinators of the Youth Network in their region.

At least 35 people participated in the EcoChallenge as part of the RCE team. Participants joined in from Japan, India, Columbia and Kenya. Team captain Kyoko Shiota from UNU-IAS had the EcoChallenge goal “to connect people working on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) issues around the world through the EcoChallenge.” The Northwest Earth Institute summarised some of the other Ecochallenge stories in its blog.

RCE Tirupati joined the EcoChallenge and held several talks on sustainability challenges during this time. RCE Tirupati's activities over the last six months included a launch event of RCE Tirupati, their acivities related to the EcoChallenge, and several interactive talks with university students on (1) impact of polymers on environmental quality, (2) on climate change and eco-management, and (3) watershed management.Read more.

If your RCE has participated in the EcoChallenge, share your story with us! We are collecting anecdotes and community stories that we can summarise to show how RCEs have contributed to the EcoChallenge.

RCE Tongyeong’s project on sustainable development in school life

RCE Tongyeong, Korea together with students at Chungryeol Girl’s High School in Tongyeong, initiated a small project on sustainable development and finding ways to make a small difference during every day school life. This short summary depicts some of the projects the girls have initiated in class, currently still in action. Read more

EU declaration on cycling as a means of climate-friendly transport

The European Union officially acknowledged cycling as a big role in combating climate change in its Declaration of Cycling as a means of climate-friendly transport. The Declaration's action plan invites local, regional and national focal points on cycling as a means of transport. It also asks to integrate cycling into multimodal transport policy, including smart mobility, stressing the need to promote physical infrastructure and behavioural change programmes, and to develop an EU level strategic document on cycling.

It is the official EU-strategy, which was finally agreed upon a few weeks ago by the European Commission that gives priority to climate friendly means of transport such as cycling. One example of a successful business model is Cycle Logistics. Below are extracts from Jos Hermans article on a relatively new development in this field namely the rising popularity of Cycle Logistics, where transporters use so-called carrier-bicycles to bring goods from outside the city into town centers and vice versa. Read the full articlehere.

A report called Cycling delivers on the Global Goals by the European Cycling Federation (ECF) and the World Cycling Alliance (WCA) explains in detail how cycling delivers on the Sustainable Development Goals, and showcases the ambitions of 70 cities from around the world to increase cycling, as well as highlighting the link between cycling and 11 of the 17 Global Goals. Cycling is already covered in Goal #3 (ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all), Goal #8 (promote sustained inclusive and sustainable economic growth), and Goal #12 (ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns).

The publication refers explicitly to the recent ITDP study “A Global High Shift Cycling Scenario” – which shows, that cycling can have a substantial positive impact on the world’s future. The scenario highlights how increasing bicycle and e-bike use would help: saving almost $6 trillion over the next 15 years, improving quality of life and a 7% decrease of urban transport CO2 emissions.

RCE Kano launches One Million Economic Trees Campaign

The RCE Kano stakeholder, the Center for Renewable Energy and Action on Climate Change, together with RCE Kano is launching a campaign to plant one million economic trees to condense the Sahara desert encroachment. The launch of One Million Economic Trees for the Sahel Initiative: Towards reversing desert encroachment and restoring degraded lands along 11 frontline states in Northern Nigeria, will be presented on 28 November, 2015 at the Zamfara State in Nigeria. Read more


Hot Off the Press: ESD Books, Publications and Other


ProSPER.Net Working Paper – Developing Leaders for Sustainable Development: Networking in Higher Education

Mario Tabucanon (UNU-IAS) and Aurea Tanaka (UNU-IAS)

The network, dubbed ProSPER.Net : Promotion of Sustainability in Postgraduate Education and Research Network, is an alliance of leading universities in the Asia-Pacific region that are committed to integrating sustainable development into postgraduate courses and curricula. Integrating the vision of sustainability in higher education means to challenge the status quo, to build a culture of change for reforming higher education institutions and restructure unsustainable processes and practices to shape the leaders of the 21st century.

In the newest ProSPER.Net Working Paper Developing Leaders for Sustainable Development: Networking in Higher Education (2015), networking is shown to be a strategic approach to effectuate the needed transformation in the sector and the experience of ProSPER.Net suggests the following:

(1) Networking can create opportunities for change and innovation, helping to transform higher education institutions and integrate sustainability thinking into their work.

(2) Multilateral networking through initiatives such as ProSPER.Net can facilitate cross-cultural, multidisciplinary and multi-stakeholder dialogues, strengthening the interface between science, policy and society, thereby linking education and development. Curriculum change towards sustainable development can be effectively achieved with a pilot network project, followed by dissemination of knowledge and practices to the wider network community and beyond.

(3) Capacity building designed within a network setting favours diversity of cultural and academic background, enables higher education institutions to offer innovative programmes, and enhances regional and global knowledge transfer to a young generation of professionals.

UNICEF Report: Unless We Act Now – The Impact of Climate Change on Children

More than half a billion children live in areas with extremely high flood occurrence and 160 million in high drought severity zones, leaving them highly exposed to the impacts of climate change, UNICEF said in a report released ahead of COP21. This report looks at how children, and particularly the most vulnerable, are affected and what concrete steps need to be taken to protect them. Access it here.

UNISDR Report: The Human Costs of Weather Related Disasters

A new report issued by the United Nations Office of Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) and the Belgian-based Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED), “The Human Cost of Weather Related Disasters”, shows that over the last twenty years, 90% of major disasters have been caused by 6,457 recorded floods, storms, heat waves, droughts and other weather-related events. The five countries hit by the highest number of disasters are the United States, China, India, Philippines, and Indonesia. The report demonstrates that since the first Climate Change Conference (COP1) in 1995, 606,000 lives have been lost and 4.1 billion people have been injured, left homeless or in need of emergency assistance as a result of weather disasters. Read more

Indicators of Resilience in SEPLS

The "Indicators of Resilience in Socio-ecological Production Landscapes and Seascapes" are a set of indicators developed through the International Partnership for the Satoyama Initiative (IPSI) via collaborative activities including Biodiversity International, UNU-IAS, UNDP and IGES. First created in 2011, they were then field-tested and applied in more than 20 countries around the world, and updated based on these experiences in 2014. A Toolkit publication was also published in 2014 to provide practical advice for use of the Indicators in the field. The Indicators have now been published in their updated form in a shorter brochure for wide distribution. The brochure contains basic background information and the set of indicators themselves. Download the publication here.

This is a publication of UNU-IAS RCE Global Service Centre.

If you wish to contribute to the monthly bulletin or have news, upcoming events, or publications, you would like to share, please use this form. You can mail it to the Global RCE Service Centre: Submissions must be made by the 15th of every month. In addition, we encourage you to continue using the RCE Portal to exchange ideas, share expertise and resources and deliberate emerging sustainability issues towards ESD implementation at a global level.

Please send your comments, suggestions and materials to