Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education
- Date submitted: 1 Nov 2011
- Stakeholder type: Major Group
- Submission Document: Download
- Additional Document:
CENTER FOR ENVIRONMENTAL AND SUSTAINABILITY EDUCATION
FLORIDA GULF COAST UNIVERSITY
FORT MYERS, FLORIDA
PROPOSED INPUTS FOR COMPILATION DOCUMENT FOR THE UNITED NATIONS
CONFERENCE ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
?The Rio+20 Opportunity: Higher Education?s Contribution to Sustainable Development?
Speaking at the United Nations Academic Impact Forum1 in August 2011, Secretary-General
Ban Ki-moon noted the relatively new view that governments and the United Nations alone
cannot preserve the world?s peace and advance the well-being of its people. He said, ?As the
challenges we face grow ever more complex and interconnected, the United Nations has opened
its doors to a wide range of new, exciting and sometimes unexpected partners?. The academic
community is among those key new partners injecting dynamism into our work and making such
partnership the wave of the future.? Ban emphasized sustainable development and climate
change as urgent issues on which the academic community could make a difference. He said
sustainable development has been his top priority, and called for a focus on the links among
hunger, water, and energy. He asked the academic community to bring its ideas to the UN
Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20) in 2012.
Higher education can use the Rio+20 process, including submissions to the Compilation
Document, to reengage its commitment to sustainable development. A significant global
intergovernmental conference at this level provides us with the opportunity to raise the key
questions related to the conference themes and objectives on campuses. The Compilation
Document draft should reference the vital role higher education could play in achieving the
conference?s objective of assessing ?the progress to date and the remaining gaps.? Assessment
should include the implementation of education commitments from previous United Nations
declarations such as the Stockholm Declaration (1972), Belgrade Charter (1975), Tbilisi
Declaration (1977), Chapter 36 of Agenda 21 (1992), and Johannesburg Declaration on
Sustainable Development (2002). This assessment could extend to other important documents,
such as Our Common Future: The Report of the World Commission on Environment and
Development (Brundtland 1987), The Tailloires Declaration (1992), and the Earth Charter
The academic community can play a vital role in addressing the conference themes of a green
economy within the context of sustainable development and the institutional framework for sustainable development. Higher education can use the Rio+20 process as a way to invigorate
and refocus the education community on their commitment to a sustainable future. We
recommend, therefore, that the Rio+20 Declaration urge governments, the United Nations, and
major groups to support the role of education for sustainable development in the following ways.
1. Affirm a strong sustainability framework, such as the Earth Charter. Adoption of an
Earth Charter is part of the unfinished business of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. Since
1992, too little progress has been made in implementing various commitments to
sustainable development, and the need for a more comprehensive global ethical
framework such as the Earth Charter has only increased. Consideration of sustainability
ethics is essential to the development of a just and sustainable green economy.
2. Recognize the critical role of education for sustainable development and particularly
higher education for sustainable development in advancing sustainable development.
This includes reaffirmation of the need for strong outcomes of the Decade of Education
for Sustainable Development and to elevate the importance of education, as a major
group, in a strengthened UN institutional framework for sustainable development
3. Assess the progress in higher education in supporting a sustainable future, realizing
commitments made such as the Stockholm Declaration (1972), Belgrade Charter (1975),
Tbilisi Declaration (1977), Chapter 36 of Agenda 21 (1992), and Johannesburg
Declaration on Sustainable Development (2002). This assessment could extend to other
important documents, such as Our Common Future: The Report of the World
Commission on Environment and Development (Brundtland 1987), the Tailloires
Declaration (1992), and the Earth Charter (2000).
4. Advance academic input into the two themes of the conference. Higher education is
uniquely positioned to contribute practical and theoretical research to the emerging green
economy and institutional framework for sustainable development. This includes
research and development in technological, engineering, financial, and social science
dimensions of the conference themes. Higher education plays a role in the formulation of
economic and global governance policies.
5. Expand the capacity for youth to engage in infrastructure for sustainable development
and the green economy through education. The participation of young people is a
fundamental element of environmental governance for sustainable development, and
education plays a vital role in this process. Students are at the forefront of promoting
sustainable development values such as human rights and social justice.
6. Secure renewed academic commitment to sustainable development in curriculum,
operations, research, service, and outreach. Higher education must move in the direction
of strong sustainability. This change must be researched and shared in international,
intergenerational, and interdisciplinary ways.
7. Address new and emerging challenges for the higher education sector in the transition to
a green economy and a sustainable future.