Education for Sustainable Development

Context of ESD in the Pacific

The nations of the South Pacific, through the United Nations General Assembly, unanimously supported the resolution to establish a Decade of Education for Sustainable Development for the period 2005 – 2014. The decade was established in order to underline the importance of concerted action to ensure that patterns of sustainable development offer a quality of life to all, both to present and future generations of Pacific Islanders. They did so also because they saw education as a key to sustainable development, which is closely linked to different models of social and economic development.

Crucial issues surround the question of who has legitimate access to, control over and use of natural resources and is particularly relevant to the cultural context and current situation in the South Pacific. Thus the human element is central – the rights and responsibilities, the roles and relationships of individuals, institutions, countries, regions and socio-political blocs are at the heart of determining the way forward towards sustainable development. To put it another way, it is as much the social and economic relationships between people and institutions as the relationship between society and natural resources that will facilitate, or hamper, progress towards sustainable development.

Links with The Millennium Development Goals

The international community adopted the Millennium Development Goals in 2000 as an over-arching framework for development and for cooperation. Sustainable development is a dynamic and evolving concept with many dimensions and interpretations and reflects locally relevant and culturally appropriate visions for a world in which development “meets the needs of the present without comprising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” The Millennium Development Goals provide targets for international actions to bring such visions into reality by: overcoming poverty; improving sustainable livelihoods; expanding educational provision and redressing gender inequalities in education; and developing national strategies for sustainable development.

The underlying values which education for sustainable development promote include at least the following:

• Respect for the dignity and human rights of all people throughout the world and a commitment to social and economic justice for all;

• Respect for the human rights of future generations and a commitment to intergenerational responsibility;

• Respect and care for the greater community of life in all its diversity which involves the protection and restoration of the Earth’s ecosystems;

• Respect for cultural diversity and a commitment to build locally and globally a culture of tolerance, non-violence and peace.

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