Education for sustainable development critical because "there are no jobs on a dead planet"

2010-11-15 00:00

ACCORDING to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco), education for sustainable development (ESD) is “education that enables people to foresee, face up to, and solve the problems that threaten life on our planet.” Across the globe, there is a growing shift from environmental education to ESD. In an innovative response to the environmental crisis the German government identified four countries from four different continents they believe can help lead a global response to the challenges. The countries were also chosen for their role as regional leaders. They are South Africa, Germany, Mexico and India.

“Operating through the InWEnt project, (Capacity Building International Germany), the German government has taken bold steps to ‘turn the tide’ and help ensure that there is a future for people, plants and animals on planet Earth,” said Dr Jim Taylor, director of education at the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA) in Howick.

“InWEnt has established an experts` network, drawing expertise from each of the four countries and this panel of 25 ESD experts met recently at WESSA to discuss the future of this new initiative. The participants from the four countries agreed that the global challenges of climate change, worldwide recession and the resulting ecological, economical and social consequences require a concerted response from individuals, organisations and governments. “Clearly what is needed is a paradigm change in politics and society, with a commitment to sustainable development including ecology, social justice, the development of sustainable lifestyles and good governance,” Taylor said.

The goal of the experts’ panel is to

Establish innovative concepts and practical approaches to ESD that can be multiplied in the respective countries within the framework of further education measures. These strategies will be addressed to experts and managers of pre-service and in-service teacher education institutions, who can influence teacher training by introducing new ESD approaches.

While this is underway, young experts and managers from government and non-government organisations will be trained in ESD in a long-term leadership-training programme run mostly in Germany. This will equip them to work as multipliers in their home countries.

The experts’ network consultation culminated in a high-profile conference at Unisa in Pretoria attended by over 200 influential people from across government, business and civil society.

• Contact: Dr Jim Taylor, WESSA at 033 330 3931 ex 138.

• Additional reporting by Julia Denny-Dimitriou.

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