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Aida Hadzialic har entledigats, Gymnasie- och kunskapslyftsminister
UNESCOS världskonferens om utbildning för hållbar utveckling
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Nagoya Japan 10 november 2014
Madame Director-General, your excellences, distinguished ministers, ladies and gentlemen,
I would first like to thank the government of Japan for hosting this, so far successful, conference. It is an honor to be given this opportunity to introduce and share some thoughts on what actions are required to enhance the policy response to Education for Sustainable Development.
As we all know, knowledge is the key in a society where development satisfies our present needs without compromising future generations.
Moving towards sustainable development cannot be achieved by political agreements, financial incentives or technological solutions alone. To safeguard the natural environment and promote greater global equity, we need a fundamental change in the ways we think and act. This can only be achieved if all individuals and societies are equipped and empowered by knowledge, skills and values as well as heightened awareness to drive such change.
I would like to highlight some of the experiences we have gained in Sweden during the decade on Education for Sustainable Development; experiences that we think have a universal relevance when speaking about how what actions are needed at national and international levels in order to enhance the policy response to ESD.
It is often stated that many actors have a responsibility regarding education for sustainable development; business, NGOs, academia etc., but never the less I would like to emphasize the importance of governments to take their responsibility using all available means and tools. The political engagement is vital in moving forwards in the implementation of ESD. A national action plan for ESD with reference to the Global Action Programme, based on research and proven experiences, containing clear targets and means for monitoring, is an essential tool in this respect.
Another perspective is bridging education, innovation, green technology, and entrepreneurship to promote work opportunities and solutions for the future.
During the decade, Sweden has included “sustainability” in formal institutional and curriculum guidelines for preschool as well as primary and secondary education. We have also made an amendment to the Higher Education Act, stating that all universities have to promote sustainable development. Knowledge in sustainable development is one of the objectives the students in teacher training education and engineering education should have reached by the end of their education.
At the same time, we have limited information on what is actually occurring in the schools and universities regarding the implementation of ESD.
To move ahead in the right direction, you have to know where you have been. Monitoring and evaluation are crucial components to strengthen the policy response to ESD. Observing the achievements and results of previous decisions, enables politicians and policy makers to draw conclusions in order to take further steps in the implementation of ESD at full scale.
We should remember that only a well-informed and educated public opinion can create the necessary demand for sustainable development and elect political leaders who are willing to take responsible and long-term decisions.
ESD is even more important in countries with average to high income among their citizens. It is in these countries that the population leaves the biggest ecological footprints and thereby contributes most to the greatest threat to the future of humanity. If the entire world would live like Swedes, we should need the resources three times the earth!
But ESD is also about providing useful and relevant knowledge to the poorest of the poor. That’s the reason the international development aid vis-à-vis education aid, must be based on the principle of ESD.
What about the international level?
UNESCO is of course the key player with a clear mandate to lead the Global Action Programme. Even though the primary responsibility of ensuring the rights to quality education to all rests primarily with the national governments, UNESCO has a decisive role in supporting and catalyzing national efforts; coordinating regional and sub-regional networks to enhance the implementation of ESD, especially with respect to policy improvement and enabling institutional structures in its member states. But UNESCO is not alone on the international arena. To further strengthen the implementation of ESD, it’s important that the future work of the Global Action Program is done in close collaboration with existing UN-programs like for example UNEP’s 10-Year Framework of Programs on Sustainable Consumption and Production, which was adopted at the Rio+20 conference.
Finally, let me conclude by stressing that activity now is needed in order to solve our most pressing problems. That’s the reason sustainability has to be a key element in the post 2015 agenda. Education is central when it comes to finding ways to a sustainable development for sustainable societies. Sustainability can only come through awareness and action from us all.
Thank you for your attention!