Asia-Pacific RCEs Gather in New Delhi to Deliberate the Local Implementation of the Global Agenda on ESD

Photo: RCE Delhi

Around 50 stakeholders from the community of Regional Centres of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development (RCE) in the Asia-Pacific region met in New Delhi, India for their tenth annual gathering to deliberate on local actions towards implementing the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as the implementation of the Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development (GAP).  Representatives from 20 RCEs in 10 countries participated in the meeting-cum-symposium joined by representatives of UNU-IAS, UNESCO, and TERI which is the key stakeholder of host RCE Delhi.

Participants were briefed on the progress of the global RCE movement, shared each other’s local community initiatives and actions, and worked to develop RCE action plans on Community, Schools and Youth, and Higher Education for the implementation of the SDGs and GAP in line with the Roadmap for the RCE Community.  The meeting deliberated and agreed on a host of issues.

The increased number of collaborative undertakings reflect a situation where the regional network has become stronger and more dynamic.  RCEs reported and deliberated on ongoing and emerging collaborative projects including the Sejahtera Project (led by RCE Tongyeong), Schools Research Project (led by RCE Penang), proposed Higher Education Project (led by RCE Greater Western Sydney), proposed Asia-Pacific RCE Case Studies Project (proposed by the Asia-Pacific RCE Coordinating Committee), and the initiative on Asia-Pacific SDG Challenge proposed by the Asia-Pacific RCE Youth focal points.

Strategic directions and actions at the Asia-Pacific regional RCE network level are contained in the rolling action plans developed bottom-up by the regional RCE community.  The Action Plans on Community, Schools & Youth, and Higher Education, which were drafted at the 9th Asia-Pacific RCE Meeting in Cha-am, Thailand in 2016 were revisited and more focused plans on selected priority action items were discussed in groups and then reported at the plenary session.  RCEs which are key to implementation of the agreed actions were identified and put to bear on them responsibility and accountability to attain successful collaborative projects.

Strong individual RCEs are prerequisites to having a strong global or regional network and, in turn, the strength of the RCE depends on how committed the RCE stakeholders are.  It is imperative that individual RCE stakeholders are involved in self-reflections, or so called self-assessments.  A number of RCEs, especially those who volunteered at the Cha-am meeting, shared their self-reflections.

The Roadmap for the RCE Community stresses the RCEs’ roles in building capacities in local communities, building competences and awareness on ESD and SD.  RCEs are expected to engage in these types of activities and programmes and share experiences with other members of the RCE community as well as multilaterally through international sustainability platforms and processes. 

The RCE participants contributed paper and poster presentations at the Symposium on “SDGs: from Goals to Action” - 18 RCE case studies were presented in four parallel sessions on a range of topics related to Sustainable Consumption and Production, Climate Change, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, with ESD as a cross-cutting theme. 

RCE cases were mostly on multi-stakeholder approaches across all three themes – SCP, Climate Change Adaptation, and Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services - but more emphasis on the learning aspects of the study is desirable.  A significant number of RCE cases could be useful for showcasing in international sustainability processes particularly on how research outcomes can be actually implemented in local community settings.  This may be further taken up in connection with the proposed establishment of a repository of Asia-Pacific RCE case studies through the RCE portal.  

On the final day, participants visited and learned from a facility designed to demonstrate sustainability theory into practice, the TERI campus in Gawal Pahari, which show cases energy-resource-efficient, environmentally friendly operation.  The 10th Asia-Pacific RCE Meeting & Symposium provided a good opportunity for learning more from each other both in multilateral and bilateral fashions. The participants gained from face-to-face networking considering that a significant number of RCE representatives in attendance were new and only attending the annual gathering for the first time. ​