Education for sustainable development (ESD) – do we really need it?
Several issues threaten the sustainability of our planet:
- Global warming and are rapidly becoming the big issues of our time. – Transformative education, innovations, ingenuity, creativity, energy efficiency, massive public and private investments in “green” technologies and new, more responsible attitudes are some of the answers to the challenges || || || (NYT Nov 2014) || || || || || || || || (IEA Nov 2015) | || || || (2016) || || || || || (US) || || || || (CDKN) || || National Academies: || || (Scripps, March 2014) || || || (May 2014) || || (WMO 2014) || || || || || || || |
- Biological diversity: the Earth’s biological resources – the incredibly complex pool of genes giving the biosphere its abundance of species and almost endless variations of life – is under severe threat. There are more species being extinguished per year now than 6o million years ago when the dinosaurs disappeared. How do we halt the destruction of species? How do we secure the diversity of the genetic pool of the biosphere? | (Nature 2014) | | | | (TED) | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |
- Forests are important for the global climate, for our common future and for hundreds of millions of people who live there. The rainforest is one of the world’s oldest ecosystems, over 60 million years. Rainforests existed when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, and the continents gathered in Gondwanaland. The genetic pool of the lifeforms in the world’s forests are to a large extent unmapped. Forests give vital ecosystem services, prevent erosion, hold and rinse freshwater, produce oxygen, food and give shelter to animals and humans. | | | (GRID-A) | | | (Guardian) |
- is the basis for life. More droughts, increasing depletion of groundwater sources and more severe floods are serious threats to life several places on Earth. How do we preserve and manage water more efficiently? How do we clean polluted water in better ways? | | (NG) | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | (Oct 2014) | (Nov 2014) | | | | | | || || (GRID-A) || || (UNUINWEH 2015) || (May 2015) || || || (BBC, Oct 2015) ||
- Natural resources may be perceived as endless and eternal. They are not. We quickly approach ““, ““, “” etc. How do we handle a resource crisis – if just the richest can afford buying the resources we all need? | | | |
- Waste – Our current economic system produces enormous amounts of waste. The biggest human “constructions” ever are our garbage dumps. How do we reduce, reuse and recycle much more efficiently? How do we get our waste into the ecological cycles? | | | | | | | | | | | | Vital waste graphics and (GRID-Arendal) |
- Chemicals – It is becoming increasingly evident that in combination some chemicals can cause harmful effects in wildlife species, in laboratory animals, and in humans, even in concentrations considered safe for the individual chemical. | | | | | Poisoning the poor – | | | | | | | | | | | (March 2015| |(Oct 2017) |
- The Oceans are , polluted,, . Efficient global management is urgently needed. | | | | | | | | | | | | | | (NYT Jan 2015) | | (Science, Jan 2015) | (jan 2015) | | | | | | (Jan 2016) | (Jan 2016) | (July 2016) ||
- Population control. All our systems – liberalism, socialism, mercantilism, keynesianism, neo-liberalism etc are based on philosophies formed when the human population on Earth was less than 2 billion people. All world religions were formed when the world population was less than a billion people. We have no clear system in place for handling seven billion people – not to speak about the nine billion people we will be in 30 years. The most efficient way to reduce population growth is education, especially female higher education. | (BBC April 2012) | | | | | | | | | | | (TED lecture) | | | | | | | |
- Ecology, development and economy are interrelated. Development is necessary for ensuring ecologically sound economical practices. How can we transform our economies from “cowboy-economy” to “space-ship economy”? How can we secure reasonable prosperity for all? | How can we ensure a solidarity-based green eco-economy that includes the poor, while avoiding landgrabbing and more resources to the rich and to multinational companies? Is it possible to use echnologies ? | | (2014) | | | | | | | | | | (WB 2014) | | (2015) | (WB 2015) | (NG Dec 2015) |
- Corruption, land-grabbing, , for the superrich. Globalisation processes must include much better international law enforcement – also against the super-rich and organised crime networks. The must be respected everywhere. Irresponsible depletion of our common natural resources and ecosystems must stop. International organised crime syndicates may not continue and other natural resources, ,, – and . Just and are necessary tools.
A common argument is that poor countries need fossil fuels to develop. In reality very few poor countries that have found oil can boast of development for people in general. Rampant corruption and appalling pollution are the key words.
- Growing cities. More of the world’s populations will live in cities. That can be a good thing if managed properly. How do we make cities greener, more ecologically sound, healthier and more attractive to live in? is one of the organisations working with these questions. See: | | | | | |
- Ozone layer depletion. The ozone layer acts like a giant sunshade, protecting plants and animals from much of the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation. Ozone forms a layer in the stratosphere, 15-40 km above earth surface. If the ozone in the atmosphere from ground level to a height of 60 km could be assembled at the earth’s surface, it would comprise a layer of gas only about 3 mm thick.
Global stratospheric ozone levels have declined, which means that the ozone layer is changing. A depletion of the ozone layer will increase the UV-radiation at ground level, in the troposphere. Increasing doses of UV-B may cause skin cancer, eye cataracts, damage to the immune system in animals as well as human beings, and have an adverse impact on plant growth.
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- Land degradation. accelerates due to increasing pressures of agricultural and industrialised livestock production, urbanization, deforestation, and extreme weather events such as droughts and coastal surges which salinate land. Instead of increasingareas and making them more resilient, we degrade and reduce these areas. | | (BBC) | | | | (April 2014) | | || || || || ||
There are three main spheres of sustainable development: environment, society and economy. Environmental issues like water and waste affect every nation. Social issues like employment, human rights , equity and security are in the newspaper headlines everywhere every day. Economic issues like poverty reduction and corporate responsibility must be addressed by all responsible politicians.
Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is clearly needed. ESD should be integrated in all education at all stages. The goals must be to:
- facilitate networking, linkages, exchange and interaction among all relevant stakeholders
- foster increased quality of teaching and learning in education for sustainable development
- help countries make progress towards and attain the Millennium Development Goals () as a first minimum
- help private and public sector abide by environmental conventions and laws and follow international ethical and environmental standards for extraction, production and trade, like the ISO 14000 and ISO 26000
- develop action competence and awareness on ESD
- build hope for a better, sustainable future
“Full access to quality education at all levels is an essential condition for achieving sustainable development, poverty eradication, gender equality and women’s empowerment as well as human development, for the attainment of the internationally agreed development goals including the Millennium Development Goals, as well as for the full participation of both women and men, in particular young people” (Focus on Rio + 10 )