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UNU/UNESCO International Conference

Sustaining the Future - Globalization and Education for Sustainable Development

28-29 June 2005 at Nagoya University, Nagoya, Japan

Programme (156 KB PDF)


The year 2005 marks the start of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD). Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) refers to the educational processes by which people develop their capacities to achieve human development, i.e. economic growth, social development, and environmental protection, in an inclusive, equitable and secure manner. The vision of education for sustainable development is a world where everyone has the opportunity to benefit from quality education and learn the values, behaviour and lifestyles required for a sustainable future and for positive societal transformation: every world citizen must learn to contribute to a sustainable future for all humankind. Thus, ESD complements other international initiatives with relevance for the education sector, such as the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) process, the Education for All (EFA) movement, and the United Nations Literacy Decade (UNLD), which aim at policies to improve access to quality education, with a focus on the content and purposes of education.

When the United Nations General Assembly passed its resolution to designate the years 2005-2014 as the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, UNESCO was designated as the lead agency within the UN system. UNESCO has facilitated the development of an International Implementation Scheme (IIS) for the Decade through a broad-based consultative process. In addition to articulating the vision for ESD, the IIS presents a broad framework for all partners to contribute to the Decade. (The draft International Implementation Scheme.)

The United Nations University initiated the "Ubuntu Alliance," an international group of research and higher education institutions and organizations which decided to join forces at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Johannesburg, 2002) to promote ESD. (See text of the "Ubuntu Declaration.") Within the UNU, the UNU Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS) has developed a work programme on ESD, in collaboration with UNESCO, that targets both education and policy practitioners. UNU-IAS's work aims to improve the quality of education through the integration of knowledge on sustainability into educational curricula and practices at all levels of education, and to increase the capacity of the public at large, and political decision-makers in particular, to promote sustainable development through an integration of sustainable development components into national development planning and implementation


This conference is an early opportunity to explore the key interface between ESD and globalization, including the special role that higher education has to play in this regard.

Globalization refers to increasing cross-border movements of goods, money, information and ideas as well as people, and to an ensuing interdependency of people and institutions around the world. This interconnectedness changes the living conditions and perspectives of current and future generations. It creates, at one and the same time, both opportunities and challenges. ESD is necessary for learning to address these changes while improving the quality of life in the present without compromising it in the future. It is not just any kind of learning, however, it is learning through quality education, offered through the full range of approaches and modalities.

Thus, globalization, quality education and sustainable development are intricately linked. Against this background, the conference will explore ways in which globalization impacts on ESD and vice versa. It aims to develop strategies to harness the processes of globalization in a positive way for the implementation of education for sustainable development.

Dates and venue

28-29 June 2005 at Nagoya University, Nagoya, Japan




Conference Structure

The conference will be preceded by the Asia and the Pacific Regional Launch of the DESD. The conference will begin with a public symposium in which eminent experts will discuss the relevance and nature of education in the context of ongoing globalization processes. The rest of the conference will consist of workshops on selected key themes, including local and regional actors, higher education, and e-learning initiatives.



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