28 February 2005

United Nations to Launch Decade of Education for Sustainable Development

VIENNA, 28 February (UN Information Service) -- The United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD), which will last from 2005 to 2014, will be officially launched in New York on 1 March 2005. Kofi Annan, United Nations Secretary-General and Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) will be present.

UNESCO is the lead agency for the successful planning and implementation of the objectives of this decade, and will be responsible for providing a framework and mobilizing action over the next 10 years.

The Decade of Education for Sustainable Development pursues the global vision of a world where everyone has the opportunity to benefit from quality education and learn the values, behaviour and lifestyles required for a sustainable future and for positive societal transformation.

Pursuant to the central vision, the Decade has various objectives: it should give an enhanced profile to the central role of education and learning in the common pursuit for sustainable development; it should facilitate links and networking, exchange and interaction among global stakeholders; it should provide a space and opportunity for refining and promoting the vision of, and transition to sustainable development; foster increased quality of teaching and learning in education for sustainable development; and develop strategies at every level to strengthen capacity in education for sustainable development.

The Decade focuses on education for sustainable development in all parts of the world, developing and industrialized countries alike. The impact of over-consumption and wasteful lifestyle patterns wherever they occur, makes a strong argument for increased attention to education for sustainable development.

In response to the need for education and sustainable development, Austria established a roundtable for “Education and Sustainable Development in Austria” which especially focuses on the interrelation of sustainable development activities at Austrian universities. These activities include conferences and the setting up of web-databases containing addresses, contacts and an overview of lectures on sustainability. In addition, the Austrian Ministry of Science, Education and Culture, together with the Austrian Environment Ministry, have taken measures in the field of education for sustainable development. Specialised publications on the subject are available on the Internet, and a comprehensive manual comprising the most important aspects of sustainable development has been developed.

The concept of sustainable development emerged in the 1980s in response to a growing realization of the need to balance economic and social progress with concern for the environment and the stewardship of natural resources. The United Nations conference on Environment and Development in 1992, the Earth Summit, gave high priority to the role of education in pursuing the kind of development that would respect and nurture the natural environment. The 2002 Johannesburg Summit broadened the vision of sustainable development and reaffirmed the educational objectives of the Millennium Development Goals.

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