Unfolding the Power of ESD: lessons learnt and ways forward?

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Unfolding the Power of ESD – Lessons Learned and Ways Forward reports on the conference The Power of ESD – Exploring Evidence & Promise, which took place in Gotland, Sweden, in October 2012.  The conference was organized by the Swedish International Centre of Education for Sustainable Development (SWEDESD) and Gotland University, and brought together 120 ESD policy, research and practice experts from 35 countries.

Some familiar faces on the conference trail
Some familiar faces on the conference trail

The report aims to inspire and inform international, national and local efforts to elaborate and accelerate ESD around the world.  Its authors, Jeppe Læssøe and Frans Lenglet, write:

“The world needs to permeate ESD, while ESD needs to permeate the world.  In the coming  years ESD should go transboundary in order to unfold, to enhance its traction, to extend its influence and to become more inclusive.”

The report makes four main recommendations:

  • Involve ESD

ESD can facilitate dialogue and learning on critical sustainable development issues.  ESD should be conducted in more open and inclusive ways.  Transboundary partnerships and governance structures are necessary to give ESD more traction.

  • Expand ESD

Link ESD to the Convention on Biological Diversity.  ESD should address the global health risks.  Efforts to promote green skills through Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) should be acknowledged and integrated into ESD.  Early Childhood ESD should be part of the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals.

  • Use ESD to reorient education

ESD addresses the quality dimension of the Education for All (EFA) agenda.  UNESCO should enhance the dialogue and concrete connections between the Education for All (EFA) initiative and ESD.  Ministries of Education and other authorities should use ESD to strengthen the quality of edu­cational programs and strategies.  There is a strong need for following up official national SD and ESD policies, in order to help scaling up and spreading innovative practices.

  • Make ESD policy context-sensitive

A process of mediation is needed to translate and adapt general aims and principles to meaningful and supportive policy at the local level.

I was invited to this meeting but couldn't go.  So, I'm now wondering what I missed.  Judging by the recommendations, not very much, as they seem derivative, at best.  But then, I wasn't there.  So, I probably missed nuances and insights, and was certainly denied the wisdom of the late-night bar.  Nor, of course, was I able to contribute.  But I note the usual problem of reification: writing (and hence thinking) about ESD as if it were an end in itself ("The world needs to permeate ESD"); thinking that it's ESD than needs to change, as opposed to education, and thinking about education.  I note that there were policy folk there, so maybe their thinking was stimulated, and actions provoked once they were safely home.  Shall we ever know, I wonder?

Posted in: Comment, New Publications, News and Updates


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