Environmental, economic and social indicators tell us that our current model of progress is unsustainable. Ours is a world of looming challenges and increasingly limited resources. Sustainable development offers the best chance to adjust our course (Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary-General)
The forum was co-organized by the Commission of the Russian Federation for UNESCO and the Government of Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug (Yugra) with the assistance of Coordination Committee of UNESCO Chairs of the Russian Federation, V.I.Vernadsky Nongovernmental Ecological Foundation and European-Russian Centre for innovation, ecology and economic development on the occasion of the end of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2014).
The conference brought together over 100 participants - leading Russian and international experts in education, UNESCO Chairholders, program specialists of UNESCO and UNICEF. The conference was welcomed by Sergei Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Dmitry Livanov, Minister of education and science of the Russian Federation, Natalia Komarova, Governor of Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug (Yugra), Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General. The conference included two plenary sessions and four round tables to find answers for the following questions:
1. “What have we achieved, what are the lessons learnt?”
The Conference carried out a stock-taking of the implementation of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD) and celebrated the Decade’s achievements. The Conference showcased initiatives, actors, networks and ideas that were inspired by the DESD and reviewed their impact. With a view to post-Decade activities, the conference celebrated the successes of the DESD but also analyzed obstacles encountered and lessons learned. Examples of good practice provided insight into viable approaches to ESD and helped to identify key areas for future action.
2. “How does ESD reinforce quality education?”
Education for Sustainable Development allows everyone to acquire the values, competencies, skills and knowledge necessary to shape a future in line with sustainable development. ESD implies integrating content related to sustainable development into education and using teaching and learning methods that help learners acquire skills such as critical thinking and motivating themselves to act for a better future. ESD helps make education relevant today. Building on the Bonn Declaration from 2009, which states that “ESD is setting a new direction for education and learning for all”, the Conference addressed the importance of ESD as an integral component of quality education in the twenty-first century.
3. “How are sustainability challenges addressed through ESD?”
Sustainable development cannot be achieved by technological solutions, political regulation or financial instruments alone. Achieving sustainable development requires a fundamental change of mindsets that results in changes of action. ESD, which addresses the interdependence of environment, economy and society, can help bring this change about. The Conference highlighted the role of ESD for the transition to green economies and societies and as a catalyst for cross-sector planning and implementation of programmes in areas such as climate change, biodiversity and disaster risk reduction. The Conference also addressed how ESD can help move sustainable development policy and action forward to meet different global, regional, national, and local needs.
4. “What are the strategies for our common future?”
The review of the implementation of the DESD at the Conference led to the development of proposals for ESD strategies after 2014. With the target date of the Millennium Development Goals and the Education for All objectives approaching in 2015, and a year after the Rio+20 conference, the Conference also highlighted the crucial role ESD plays for the next set of global education and development goals. It will make concrete contributions to education and sustainable development agendas. ESD must continue after 2014.