20 September 2012

Namibia: Tbilisi Conference Focuses On Environmental Education

OVER 300 representatives from 104 countries, as well as international intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations in partnership with Unesco and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), met in Tbilisi, Georgia, to develop and adopt policies on environmental education.

The conference took place from September 6 to 7. The Namibian delegation included Frans Kamenye from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism and Liz Komen from the Namibia Animal Rehabilitation, Research and Education Centre (Narrec).

The conference was held 35 years after the Tbilisi Declaration was adopted at an intergovernmental meeting in 1977, as a first working policy document for environmental education.

This month's meeting specifically addressed the current needs for environmental education to ensure a sustainable future. Particular importance was placed on a continuum that will be necessary after 2014 when the UN-declared Decade of Education for Sustainable Development is concluded.

This continuum has been stressed in an outcomes document from Tbilisi+35, the Tbilisi Communique, which will be delivered by Unesco as a high-impact document in Japan in 2014.

The aims of this intergovernmental meeting were:

- Providing a platform for decision-makers to enhance international cooperation for a concerted action towards the sustainable future;

- Acknowledging achievements of the global community in the implementation of environmental education and education for sustainable development;

- Addressing the need for a balanced approach between environmental conservation and development, as well as persisting and emerging challenges of sustainable development and education, including but not limited to poverty, unequal access to schooling, uneven distribution of resources and opportunities, increased pressure on the carrying capacity of ecosystems and climate change; and

- Developing recommendations in light of the developments particularly those resulting from the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development.

The issues that were repeatedly raised included the need for educator training and for new paradigms in education in order to strengthen values education across all sectors of life.

The green economy concept was emphasised as essential to a sustainable future for our global community and lifelong learning across formal, non-formal and informal education sectors was stressed as the vehicle to achieve "enough for all for ever".

Namibia's current position on education for a sustainable future has been described in a draft report by Alex Kanyimba and Loini Katoma.

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