Over 80 ministers and vice ministers and 2,800 education and environment stakeholders committed to taking concrete steps to transform learning for the survival of our planet by adopting the Berlin Declaration on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) at the end of a three-day virtual World Conference held from 17 to 19 May.
The Conference, followed online by over 10,000 viewers, was organized by UNESCO in cooperation with the Federal Ministry of Education and Research of Germany and the German Commission for UNESCO as advisory partner.
UNESCO has called for Education for Sustainable Development to be a core component of all education systems at all levels by 2025.
UNESCO’s launch of a new publication, which analyzed educational plans and curricula frameworks in close to 50 countries informed the discussions. UNESCO found that more than half make no reference to climate change, while only 19% speak about biodiversity.
The Berlin Declaration on Education for Sustainable Development outlines a range of policies to transform learning encompassing teaching, learning, professional training and civic engagement. It also highlights the need to implement Education for Sustainable Development with focus on cognitive skills, social and emotional learning, collaboration skills, problem solving, resilience-building.
“We need training for sustainable development not to be a privilege but accessible to all people. The success of the Education for Sustainable Development programme for 2030 will bring us closer to all the SDGs,” said German Chancellor Angela Merkel in her welcoming address, describing Germany’s broad network of partners working on sustainability at all levels of education and training.
Throughout the Conference, countries shared plans to integrate Education for Sustainable Development. Ms Anja Karliczek, Germany’s federal minister of education and research, shared the commitments of 18 countries of the European Union to implement the Education for Sustainable Development for 2030 framework, underscoring it as a driver for the achievement of all the SDGs.
Laurent Fabius, who presided COP21 where the Paris Agreement was sealed, stated the “fight against climate change begins at school.” He recalled commitments in the Paris Agreement to education, and called for increased efforts to improve teacher training on ESD and increase financing. “2021 is the year in which we will overcome the pandemic and embark on a sustainable development model for the future that must include ESD. If we miss this occasion, we will lose decades. This is a race against the clock.”
The voices of young people were given a platform throughout the Conference, as those leading the call for change so that they can #LearnForOurPlanet.
The adoption of the Berlin Declaration will create momentum for the implementation of ESD for 2030 Roadmap – the framework for this decade of Education for Sustainable Development. Every UNESCO Member State will be asked to create a network of actors who together can implement the ambitious vision for education.
From Berlin, 2021 will provide key opportunities for governments to apply this commitment, including the United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP 15) and the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow.