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Soka Gakkai International
  • Date submitted: 1 Nov 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Major Group
  • Submission Document: Download
  • Additional Document:

Proposals for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD)

Soka Gakkai International

The Soka Gakkai International (SGI) hereby submits its proposals in response to the invitation ?to provide inputs and contributions for inclusion in a compilation document to serve as basis for the preparation of zero draft of the outcome document.?

As a non-governmental organization with membership in 192 countries and territories and a decades-long record of activities promoting education, learning and civil society engagement, we focus on the following three action areas whereby education in all its forms can play a key role in achieving the objectives and addressing the themes of UNCSD. We also hope these action areas can serve to invigorate the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, 2005-2014 (DESD) and encourage active follow-up efforts by diverse stakeholders.

? Lifelong learning for sustainable development

? Education and awareness-raising for a green economy

? Education targets in ?Sustainable Development Goals?

Lifelong learning for sustainable development

Education and learning take place not only in schools but also in all aspects and areas of our lives. UNESCO?s ?ESD calls for lifelong learning and recognizes the fact that the educational needs of people change over their lifetime.? Similarly, in the UNEP, ?The strategy is also consistent with the environmental education principles which recognise environmental education as a continuous and lifelong process, based on interdisciplinary approaches, active participation and individual and group responsibility for the environment.?

We propose a new program of lifelong learning for sustainable development to be launched in 2015 as follow-up to the DESD. It can serve to facilitate efforts in informal education while furthering work in formal education.

Such a program would profile existing educational/learning activities relevant to ESD and clarify what is best learnt at each life-stage, and in which venue or situation.

UNEP describes its mission as ?Inspiring, Informing and Enabling.? When we think about ESD, in addition to UNEP?s mission above, it is crucial to take into consideration the importance of self-learning and applying knowledge gained to our own life and experiences. Therefore, we propose a formula of ?Learn, Reflect, and Empower? (LRE) for promoting ESD.

This three-step formula is effective in ESD in our experience. The acquisition of knowledge alone is not only insufficient, but this approach can easily lead to the learner feeling overwhelmed by the extent and complexity of the problems, resulting in disempowerment. The LRE formula equips people for action and enables them to be confident that even one person?s actions can make a difference.

Ideally, education should inspire the faith that each of us has both the power and the responsibility to effect positive change on a global scale. This LRE formula can be utilized in any type of ESD activity and at any stage of life. We will see the development of learning systems throughout society which enable people to learn, reflect, adapt and take appropriate action in response to complex, interrelated and everchanging circumstances.

As such a program involves all members of societies including the business sector and consumers, it would help lay foundations for efforts toward the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production.

Education and awareness-raising for a green economy

The aim is to inform ordinary people about successful approaches to a green economy and to encourage economic activities based on it. Efforts are also needed to achieve a paradigm shift in thinking about growth by utilizing and raising awareness of new indexes for measuring development and economic approaches which take visibly into account social and environmental costs. Poverty eradication must also be a central goal, with the provision that natural resources are not exploited to the detriment of future generations.

Education is vital so that evolving concepts of a green economy will be more familiar to ordinary people. More widespread understanding will enhance the quality of green economy initiatives and what the international community agrees at UNCSD. This process will be ongoing.

The idea of a green economy, unlike other economic models, includes the aims of sustainable development and the eradication of poverty. A common purpose on a global scale is necessary, and education is important to this end.

In the first stage starting from 2015, we consider it to be desirable to establish a program and tools which can be used in secondary education and higher education. Also, the 10YFP SCP should mention an education program on green economy.

The LRE formula can be applied here as well, empowering learners to take concrete action and not only absorb past economic theories and knowledge. In order to realize this, the program should include case studies of both success and failure, and on-thejob- training courses.

Philosophical and ethical aspects must also be covered to promote an integrated way of thinking about sustainability issues, and the overarching rationale for a green economy.

Widely recognized documents such as the Earth Charter can be of use in this respect. Incorporating education targets in ?Sustainable Development Goals? Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are being proposed to complement the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The education-related target among the MDGs is ?Children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling.? SDGs should be related to the life-long learning program we propose here, promoting the kind of education that encourages us to expand our vision, encouraging our openness to understand, appreciate and promote interlinkages. The LRE formula can be helpful in this respect. An SDG education goal would complement the MDG education goal.

To further the above proposal, we offer the following observations about the issues surrounding the use of nuclear-powered energy:

Reflection on the past 20 years

In Rio and Johannesburg, the international community agreed that natural resources are limited and that carbon emissions should be cut. Developing countries, with rising energy demands, have been faced with the pressure of reducing dependence on fossil fuels.

In response, aided by nuclear energy interests in developed countries, the export of nuclear technology has become widespread. Many countries are planning to develop the nuclear power option.

In March 2011, Japan was faced with the compound disasters of earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima nuclear power plant accident. Radioactive materials were scattered over a wide area. Residents around the plant have been forced to evacuate with no clear prospect of return.

Requested policies

a) Energy summit

In international negotiations about energy, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has been playing a key role. As the agency comprises only 28 countries, it has been inviting emerging countries like China and India, as well as transnational corporations to join its debates in recent years.

However, the Fukushima accident has highlighted the necessity of reflection of ordinary people?s concerns in energy policies, as they are affected by the process of power generation not just as consumers. Even in oil producing countries, only a few corporations and governments benefit from the oil industry, while local residents often suffer from severe disruption to their local environment, causing political instability. It is essential to take people?s concerns and views into consideration. In a world where increasing energy demand is inevitable, we are faced with the urgent task of how to secure energy supplies in a sustainable way. In order to solve this, we think a periodic summit is indispensable, one which decides global energy policies with the presence of governments, transnational corporations, and representatives of civil society, led by an inter-organizational bureau linking international organizations such as the UN Security Council, UNEP, CSD and IEA.

Nuclear power plants inevitably cause sacrifices and risks to future generations and the natural environment. From such summit debates, civil society can reasonably and urgently conclude whether the role of nuclear power should be limited to that of a transitional or bridging technology until alternative technologies mature.

b) Technology transfer of renewable energy to developing countries

In the meantime, we need to create a system which encourages technology transfer of renewable energy to developing countries. Promotion of this shift can be a driver of a green economy. The shift derives not only from the ethical undesirability of nuclear plants, but also from the prerogatives of a green economy that cannot ignore the negative costs and risks of nuclear power plants.

Finance will be a challenge, and the instrumentality of taxes imposed on actors who sacrifice others can be considered. Currently, an aviation tax has been implemented in a few countries, and ideas for a Tobin tax or taxation on weapons trade are being proposed. The trade of fissile materials, which is already internationally controlled and monitored, could be taxed more effectively than weapons. These, too, are subjects for summit debates through which civil society must become informed and engaged.

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