Regional Exchange Programme on Promoting Community-based ESD Initiative (Hiratsuka, Japan/online)

Within the framework of the ESDfor2030 road map, UNESCO had partnered with ACCU to promote best practices and knowledge sharing in community-based Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). Aligned with the ESDfor2030 framework for action one of the five core thematic areas in ESD for 2030 is the community-based actions and initiatives in ESD. ESD has been recognized as playing a significant role in pursuit of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. In this regard and given the current COVID-19 pandemic globally, demands for collective learning on policy-making, best practices, policy dialogue and research have been rapidly among ESD practitioners, experts and trainers of trainers working for the community education and development.

Against this background, Asia-Pacific Exchange Workshop on Promoting Community-based ESD was held on 10 and 11 August 2021 in joint collaboration by the Asia-Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO (ACCU) in Japan, UNESCO Beijing Cluster Office and Japan Foundation Asia Center. The participants at the workshop had discussed ESD themes based on the experiences acquired from participating in the UNESCO’s regional project on community-based ESD approaches and explored future actions in the participating countries including Japan, Philippines, India, Mongolia, Lao PDR and China. The Hiratsuka city of Japan, which was one of the participating communities in the project, hosted the workshop while participants from six countries joined virtually to share their experiences and perspectives.

In the opening session, Prof. Shahbaz Khan, Director of UNESCO Beijing Cluster Office in his opening remark welcomed all the participants through a video message, stressing the crucial importance of bottom-up approaches to ESD implementation in achieving sustainable development at the international, regional, national and community level. He further stressed the bottom-up approach of finding sustainable solutions to environmental and climatic problems the world is facing. UNESCO’s work in ESD will be closely guided by the ESDfor2030 roadmap. The Director acknowledged the spirit of close collaboration between UNESCO Beijing Cluster office, ACCU and Japanese National Commission for UNESCO.

Around 50 participants including local Japanese ESD practitioners and ESD experts participated in the 2-day workshop. They participated and shared the cases from China, India, Japan, Lao PDR, Mongolia and the Philippines and exchanged the experiences and opinions from respective countries on various community models and approaches in education for sustainable development.  

Through sharing of the learning of ESD initiatives and process in each country, the importance of continued learning even amid COVID-19 was emphasized. As every learning in ESD takes place in a local context, it was important to understand individual’s need through such as intergenerational dialogue and traditional knowledge with multi-stakeholder participation, which was highlighted in implementing the Reflect-Share-Act, a practical guide developed by the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Education in Bangkok.

In addition, youth members in Japan's community development initiatives shared their stories on how the learning happens both inside as well as outside of schools where young people not only express their opinions and interact with their communities, but also share their own knowledge and experiences across generations. The importance of institutions and organizations as catalysts for young people's participation was also raised.

The workshop provided an opportunity for ESD promotion at the local level recognised within an international ESDfor2030 framework, and created the solid network platform for the future collaboration on ESD activities.

* Reflect - learners engage in critical reflection to review and analyze their own experiences and practices from a sustainability perspective, and give meanings to the concept of sustainable development in their own community contexts.
* Share - guides the learners to share their reflections and understandings with others in the community and engage them in a Reflect-Share-Act process.
* Act - helps learners put their understandings of sustainable development into action.

Continue to empower educators to recognize how ESD and Reflect-Share-Act can be identified and celebrated in the current practices of youth, local community organizations, local governments who do GOOD Community work. We need to help them embed more explicitly ESD in the same way Hiratsuka spoke about it at the start, not boring lectures, but through Fun and Engagement.
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More to learn

Five priority action areas of #ESDfor2030: