Walking hand in hand: SDA as catalyser for enhancing ESD

December 5, 2014
ESD AGENDA: Magnus Persson (right), Network President and Coordinator of the Learning Teacher Network, and Stefanio Romano (IMELS, ITF) at Nagoya.

What is ESD?  We know the principles and the relevant literature, but what does it really mean in concrete terms? How will ESD shape today's young and future generations?

These underpinning questions were at the heart of the UNESCO World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), hosted in Aichi-Nagoya, Japan on November 10-12, 2014. The conference, the last milestone of a momentous journey enshrined within the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD), has proved central in taking stock of the results achieved hitherto and in launching the novel Global Action Programme (GAP) on ESD.

Since 2003, the Italian Trust Fund (ITF) - established in 2001 as a targeted contribution of the Italian Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea (IMELS) to the Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe (REC) - has contributed to programmes addressing and nurturing ESD and related challenges, such as the Sustainable Development Academy (SDA); Training for Young Environmental Leaders; Young Experts Programme; Implementing the Aarhus Convention: Practical Tools for Public Participation; and support for piloting the Green Pack in the basic curricula of selected countries.

In Nagoya, during a side event focusing on partnership as a pre-condition for successful ESD implementation, Stefania Romano, Senior Expert for IMELS and Director of the ITF, showcased the efforts and results of the SDA, a remarkable Italian initiative that IMELS founded and launched in 2003 through the Italian Trust Fund, which has also been the main donor since its launch. Since its inception, the programme has empowered more than 600 people, including government officials, local authorities, business representatives and other major stakeholders with tools aimed at implementing sustainable national policies and fostering ESD while respecting the environment and the "three pillars" of sustainable development. Over 20 tailored regional seminars and courses for sustainability have been delivered in Central and Eastern Europe, South Eastern Europe and the Visegrad countries, the Black Sea region, Turkey, Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation and the MENA region.

In closing her presentation, Romano, quoting American artist Jim Henson,  reminded the audience that we should all try to live more sustainably and to change our attitudes in ways that help positively transform our lives because "[children] don't remember what you try to teach them, they remember what you are."