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Towards sustainable development - Learning for a world qualified for the future.
A discussion paper of the Association of German development non-governmental organisations (VENRO) on the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development 2005-2014.

Education is an important key to shape the process of globalisation in a sustainable manner. This is why the promotion of education for sustainable development has to be made a priority of education and development policies. The International Decade″Education for Sustainable Development″ 2005–2014, proclaimed by the United Nations, provides a framework for a global initiative towards a new orientation of education in view of new global challenges. All people are to be offered educational opportunities enabling them to acquire the necessary competencies for sustainable development.
The Association of German Non-Governmental Development Organisations (VENRO) approves the early creation of institutional prerequisites for an efficient implementation of the Decade in Germany thanks to the initiative of the German Commission for UNESCO. The Association supports the objectives of the National Action Plan. VENRO calls upon its member organisations to join the ″Allianz Nachhaltigkeit Lernen″ (Alliance Learning Sustainability) and to actively engage in the International Decade in cooperation with governmental bodies, industry and civil society.
VENRO′s participation in the Decade addresses the following objectives:
> to effectively position the model of sustainable global development in our education system
> to give an enhanced profile to the dimension of
global development in education for sustainable development
> to strengthen the participatory opportunities of civic
organisations and initiatives in the implementation process
of the Decade.
This discussion paper is intended to define the position of non-governmental organisations in the field of development with regard to the challenges of the UN Decade. It determines the underlying concepts of education and lists the main focuses of VENRO′s involvement in the German action programme.
VENRO′s approach is based on the model of sustainable development, which equally includes the dimensions of social justice, economic efficiency, good governance and ecological balance. It connects the demand of intergenerational justice with the demand of justice among the people living today. Environment and development are understood as two fields of equal importance which must be reconciled.
In VENRO′s view, it is crucial that everyone has the opportunity to contribute to the definition of objectives towards a desirable development of society.
For this reason, sustainable development requires a participatory concept of politics. Measures must be given priority which overcome social exclusion, liberate people from constraints caused by poverty, expand their scope of action, and encourage them to advocate for their own interests. Sustainable development is mainly about empowerment from this point of view. Empowerment describes a process which encourages people and enables them to assume responsibility for their own concerns. The potential of critical community participation, gained within the context of education for sustainable development, can contribute to defending the principle of sustainable development against adulteration or
Committing education to the model of sustainable development represents a double challenge:
> to focus on competencies needed to contribute to a
sustainable development and
> to fulfil the universal human right of access to education
Education for sustainable development has to provide adequate educational opportunities for everyone, but especially for disadvantaged groups of society with lower levels of education, here as well as in developing countries. It should also support the influence such groups have on the social development process. Education for sustainable development needs to strengthen self-organized learning and community participation as well as cooperation between civil society and schools.
Towards sustainable development – Learning for a world quali. ed for the future 2 The non-governmental development organisations understand their educational work as consistent with the concept of global education (Globales Lernen), which, under the influence of globalisation, has developed over the last two decades from both theory and practice of development education (Entwicklungspolitische Bildung). Global education deals with the far-reaching challenges in the fields of individual learning and education processes that are provoked by global change. As globalisation turns the world into a global risk community, education must qualify children and young people to think and act within the context of a world horizon. Education must impart not only civic responsibility but also the values and perspectives of a world community.
Global education focuses on social justice throughout the world, without losing touch with the other dimensions of the sustainable development model. Global education is directed
towards an understanding of the interaction between the local socio-cultural context and global processes and fosters competencies towards the development of a sustainable life
as well as democratic participation in the development of a society qualified for the future.
VENRO is therefore committed to an enhanced profile of the global perspective, to human rights as well as international justice and intercultural exchange and communication in the context of the National Action Plan of the Decade. In agreement with the guidelines of UNESCO, VENRO supports the approach of understanding the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development as part of the worldwide movement for the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, as these provide the framework for global politics at the beginning of the new millennium.
VENRO and its member organisations focus their contributions
to the Decade on:
1. strengthening people – fighting poverty – promoting
sustainable development
2. making globalisation fair
3. strengthening international solidarity and global
4. realizing ″Education for all″
5. protecting cultural diversity and promoting intercultural
6. securing peace and resolving conflicts non-violently
Inhaltsverzeichnis :
Summery (s.u.)
I. Decade ″Education for Sustainable Development″
II. The model of sustainable development
III. Strengthening the people – Empowerment for sustainable development
IV. The contribution of global education to education for sustainable development
V. Education strategies and recommendations for the implementation of the UN Decade in Germany
List of VENRO members (January 2006)
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