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Strengthening ESD at the local level, by Alexander Leicht, UNESCO

Contribution to the September RCE e-bulletin 2015 by Alexander Leicht, Chief of Section, ESD, UNESCO (

The Global Action Programme (GAP) on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) aims at generating and scaling up ESD action across the world. The GAP was endorsed by the UNESCO General Conference in 2013 and acknowledged by the UN General Assembly in 2014 as the follow-up to the UN Decade of ESD. It was launched at the World Conference on ESD in November 2014 in Japan.

One of the five Priority Action Areas of the GAP is dedicated to accelerating sustainable solutions at the local level. As suggested by the UNESCO Roadmap for Implementing the GAP, relevant stakeholders for this Priority Action Area include public authorities such as mayors and city councils, the leaders of education institutions, managers of private companies, and non-governmental organizations. All of them are called upon to increase and strengthen learning opportunities for sustainable development at the local level.

As local multistakeholder networks, Regional Centres of Expertise (RCEs) are well-placed to make a strong contribution to Priority Action Area 5 of the GAP. RCEs can mobilize relevant actors in their community and, through the research component of each RCE, support innovative approaches. Through the worldwide network of RCEs they also function as a global community of ESD practice. UNESCO is therefore pleased that the worldwide network of RCEs has become one of the GAP Key Partners and has joined the Partner Network for Priority Action Area 5.

As GAP Key Partners, RCEs should build on the momentum generated by the UN Decade and take further steps to scale up and multiply their activities. It will be particularly important to move beyond the circle of the ‘ESD converted’ and reach out to new stakeholders – in the education sector, and in all other sectors relevant to sustainable development, such as climate change, sustainable consumption or poverty reduction. Such a broader outreach strategy will be critical for a successful contribution of the RCE’s to the GAP.

For more information on the GAP: