UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development

UN DESD - 2005 to 2014

In December 2002, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed the years from 2005 to 2014 the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD). Governments from around the world have been invited to strengthen their contribution to sustainability through a focus on education.

The Australian Government has responded to the DESD with a range of relevant national initiatives already under way. The DESD is supported in the Australian Government's Second National Action Plan on Education for Sustainability - Living sustainably.

Australian Government Strategy for the DESD

On 4 October 2006 the Australian Government released Caring for Our Future - the Australian Government Strategy for the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development. The Strategy outlines the broad approach to be adopted by the Australian Government to provide national leadership in Education for Sustainable Development from 2005-2014.

The Strategy was developed in consultation with the Australian National Commission for UNESCO, the National Environmental Education Council (NEEC) and the National Environmental Education Network (NEEN). To promote whole-of-government engagement, all Australian Government Ministers were consulted for their input to the strategy and for advice on how their Portfolios might contribute to its objectives. The content was also informed by the outcomes of the National Symposium on the DESD held in Melbourne in July 2005.

Vision

At the end of the Decade the Australian community will have the understanding, knowledge, skills and capacity to contribute to sustainable development and will embrace the intrinsic value of sustainability as a national aspiration.

Our ultimate vision is a sustainable Australia.

Goal

To mainstream sustainability across the community through education and lifelong learning.

Strategies

The focus of Australian Government activity during the Decade will be on practical actions aligned with national priorities and on achieving real change in support of sustainable development.

A programme of specific activities and targets will be developed in support of the strategy as part of the process of developing a new National Action Plan for Education for Sustainable Development (formerly Environmental Education) and in creating partnerships between government and non-government organisations.

Australian Government Launch of the UN DESD in Australia

In June 2005 a diverse range of groups were funded through the Education for Sustainability Grants Program to launch the DESD and facilitate innovative Education for Sustainable Development projects in Australia.

National Symposium on the DESD in Australia

A National Symposium on the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD), was held in Melbourne on 7 July 2005. The aim of the Symposium was to raise awareness of the DESD in Australia across a range of sectors and explore potential partnerships and collaborative activities. It was organised and hosted by RMIT University on behalf of the Australian National Commission for UNESCO and the Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage, in conjunction with the Victorian Catholic Education Office, International Young Professional Foundation, Future Leaders and the National Centre for Sustainability at Swinburne University of Technology.

The Symposium was attended by representatives of over 70 national organisations including industry groups, non-government organisations, trade unions, professional associations, local and state/territory government, and further and higher education.

The UN Draft International Implementation Scheme  and 'Transforming thinking', (ECOS Magazine - Issue 123 ) were circulated to participants prior to the event to ensure a common understanding of the issues. An Australian Government Perspective on the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development highlighting current activities was part of the opening presentations.

Fifteen diverse case studies showcasing the range of initiatives already underway for the DESD and the diverse opportunities for Education for Sustainable Development across Australia were presented, followed by discussions among the participants on possible future approaches.

The outcomes of the Symposium are contained in the Initiating the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development in Australia. These outcomes are being used by the Australian National Commission for UNESCO and the Australian Government to inform planning and development of DESD initiatives.

Reports & presentations