UNESCO World Conference on ESD Publishes Roadmap for GAP

As the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (UN DESD 2005-2014) comes to a close, the global education sector came together during the World Conference on ESD in Aichi-Nagoya, Japan. The event was co-organized by UNESCO and the Government of Japan, from 10 to 12 November 2014.

More than 1,000 participants gathered for the three-day conference under the theme “Learning Today for a Sustainable Future.”  Among them were 76 ministerial-level representatives of UNESCO Member States, NGOs, academia, the private sector and UN agencies, as well as individual experts and youth participants from 150 countries. The Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Japan graciously presided the grand opening of the conference.

Lending his support to the event in a video message, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, stated, “there is no plan B, because there is no planet B.” He called for sustainability to be built into he daily lives of people with education being the starting point. UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova stressed that “we cannot just build green economies, we need green societies” and “sustainability requires changes in how we produce and consume, changes in our lifestyles…and education is the way to connect the dots.”

The participants reflected on the achievements, lessons learnt, challenges they faced and how to advance the ESD agenda in the post-2014 education framework. With the UN Decade of ESD coming to an end, UNESCO presented the report ‘Shaping the Future We Want’, which essentially looked at ESD initiatives around the world. The document was based on questionnaires submitted by 70 countries. Additionally, the ‘UNESCO Roadmap for implementing the post-2014 Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development (GAP)’ was released.

Representatives from numerous organizations around the world took part in different high-level keynote presentations, panel discussions, workshops and side events during the celebratory and historic three-day event. The United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS) supported the conference by participating in panel discussions and organizing workshops and side events. These were specifically related to multi-stakeholder, multi-sectoral networking in local communities, networking of higher education institutions. UNU-IAS was further involved in international debate issues such as climate change, sustainable consumption and production, biodiversity, traditional knowledge, as well as higher education and other processes on education for sustainable development.

Several multi-stakeholder meetings conveniently took place just before the UNESCO conference. This allowed many participants for example of the 9th Global Regional Centres of Expertise (RCEs) on ESD Conference, as well as members of the UNU-IAS Promotion of Sustainability in Postgraduate Education and Research Network (ProSPER.Net) to attend the UNESCO World Conference on ESD.

At the conclusion of the conference, the ‘Aichi-Nagoya Declaration on Education for Sustainable Development’ was adopted, calling for urgent action to further strengthen and scale up ESD and inviting governments of UNESCO Member States to make further efforts towards achieving the goals of ESD. The definitive UNESCO GAP document that was launched during the World ESD Conference can be downloaded at UNESCO’s website.