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| Last Updated:08/06/2021

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UNESCO releases global action programme on ‘education in sustainable development’

NAGOYA: As the world struggles to meet ambitious goals to slow down climate change, it has become imperative that planning and execution is not restricted to only policy but is practiced by every individual at community level. To that end, UNESCO recently released its global action programme on 'education in sustainable development' at Nagoya in Japan where world leaders collected to mark the end of the first decade of ESD.
Irinia Bokova, director general of UNESCO said: "This is a relatively new concept and this is for the first time that ESD has been included in global education. Already, some good examples have been set at the global level. Green societies are not only with respect to governments but are also the responsibility of the private sector, academia, universities and civil society."
ESD is a concept through which education looks systematically at dispersing information regarding sustainable living to students and communities, involving change in curricula. The project in India is being handled largely by non-government organisations and there is a growing demand that the government take it up more seriously.
In fact, at the event in Nagoya, which was attended by participants from 148 countries and close to 70 ministerial level officials including those from Nepal and Bangladesh, India chose to send a junior level official. Nobody from the HRD ministry was present, inviting criticism from the Indian contingent. "There are already very few players in civil society and the government has been inactive. To make this a success, a more concerted push is needed from the government," said a participant.
The global action plan on ESD known as the Aichi-Nagoya declaration, launched in November last year and ratified by the 149 countries, including India, says that the countries "commit ourselves to building and maintaining the momentum of the launching of the GAP, in its five priority action areas for ESD, namely policy support, whole institution approaches, educators, youth and local communities, through inclusive quality education and lifelong learning via formal, non-formal and informal settings."
Kartikeya Sarabhai, director of the Centre for Environment Education headquartered in Ahmedabad, says that ESD is essential in the Indian context, especially with a focus on the new government's planning of smart cities. "Will a city that has come up on the back of a compromise on environment be smart? In order to develop environment consciousness, there is need for an organization which will set pace with partners to ensure development without compromising on environment. Challenge of development is not how to get there but how not to. Education is a tool for achieving goals of sustainable development, important as much for decision makers as much as for children," he said.
Mita Goswami, director of the environment education department at WWF, says that her organization has been active in four states where it has been building capacity, training directors and equipping students to become responsible citizens at a sustainable level. "We have been helping government schools to transform into ESD schools by applying a whole school approach. First teachers and principals are trained, then plans are drawn up to make schools ESD compliant. Finally, with community work, schools become centres for influence," she said.