Open-minded, forward-thinking, democratic

Sustainable Development Academy provides training and know-how for long-term results

November 29, 2010 | By Zsolt Bauer
WEIGHING OPTIONS: A sustainability scenario engrosses Black Sea course participants. All photos courtesy of SDA

Short-term thinking inevitably has long-term consequences. When it comes to human beings sharing the planet in a sustainable manner, long-term thinking, planning and training needs to be applied in a wide variety of ways. This is what the Sustainable Development Academy (SDA) is designed to do. The SDA stresses the need to allocate more resources for environmental protection and rehabilitation, to expand access to environmental information and increase the capacities of local institutions, and to harmonise economic social and environmental policies for a prosperous and sustainable future.

Dating back to 2004, more than 500 people have participated in roughly 20 courses specially designed to promote practices leading to sustainable development. These various 'courses for sustainability' have been carried out in and focused on areas such as Central and Eastern Europe, South-Eastern Europe, the Visegrad countries, Central Asia, the Black Sea region, Turkey, and the Russian Federation. This unique educational enterprise launched a new umbrella website on September 24, 2010, thereby consolidating various past course information into a single, convenient location.

In an effort to meet needs of the professional business community in today's competitive environment, the Sustainable Development Academy has also recently developed certificate programmes that focus on meeting these particular social, economic and environmental challenges. The first certificate programme, developed in 2008 with cooperation from Turkey's Bogazici University, covered corporate social responsibility in the private sector.

By offering regional courses - and now, certificate programmes - the Sustainable Development Academy provides participants with a number of tools to initiate and implement national policies promoting sustainable development. Targeting mostly national and local government officials and business representatives, the SDA promotes leadership skills and participant cooperation and exchange by providing valuable networking opportunities.

EXPERT GUIDANCE: A course teacher imparts instructions during the Russian Course for Sustainability.
Moreover, the SDA brings together a wide range of stakeholders - national governments, local authorities, business sectors, civil societies, academia, NGOs, financial institutions - resulting in the cooperation and skill development needed to work across geopolitical and multicultural borders. Mutual understanding of actions needed to promote the full spectrum of sustainable development (from planning and decision-making to implementation and auditing) can be achieved through the kinds of exchanges of professional experience available to participants throughout the course.


"Bringing together people from different cultures contributes immensely not only to a more sustainable, but also to a more open-minded, more dynamic and more democratic Europe," ICLEI Project Coordinator Andrea Burzacchini says about the SDA.

Course and programme summary

The Course for Sustainable Development for Central and Eastern Europe was offered on four occasions between 2004 and 2007, drawing a total of 233 participants. This course focused primarily on enhancing government capacities of senior government officials in creating policies and programmes that are more sustainable environmentally, socially and economically. Also targeting senior government officials to achieve the same objectives, the Kazakhstan Course for Sustainability was offered in 2007 to 36 participants.

The Course for Local Sustainability and Action and South-Eastern Europe and the Visegrad Countries as been delivered on three occasions to date, starting in 2008. This course has drawn 105 participants.

"The course was an excellent opportunity and real challenge, both for speakers and participants," says Ciprian Popvici from Green Partners in Romania. "But everyone showed enthusiasm and willingness to learn and share. One week, almost 80 participants, many speakers, lots of presentations, lectures, exercises, group work, assignments, discussions, networking and fun."

'Partnerships for Sustainable Development & Sustainable Public Policies and Business Practices for the Black Sea Countries' is a two-part seminar series that began in 2008 and has been offered on three occasions to a total of 93 participants.

TAKING NOTE: Black Sea course participants tune in to a lecture.
"My attendance at this seminar series in Venice helped me to combine my theoretical, technical and practical knowledge about urban development and sustainability," said Turgay Albayrak, a city and regional planner from Turkey. "With various participants from a range of public and private institutions from different countries, it was a genuine opportunity to exchange information and to interact with other professionals."

The Course for Sustainability for St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region debuted in 2010, with 24 people taking part. This is a capacity-building course, designed specifically for government officials, that helps participants to identify tools most suitable for promoting sustainable development in the target region. A similar course for sustainability for Belarus and Ukraine is forthcoming.

Foundation and support

The Course for Sustainability was created under the auspices of Corrado Clini, Director General of the Italian Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea (IMELS), and IMELS has been the main course donor since 2004.

Also acting as SDA donors are the Netherlands Ministry of Development Cooperation and the BG Group. Course sponsors include AT&T, the Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey (DEIK), ISTAC Co., Bedol, Reware, ATP and KPMG.

For all information, past and present, related to the Sustainable Development Academy, please visit our new website!