Press Release: International Conference Highlights the fundamental role of Education to achieve Sustainable Development

(November 21, 2011 – Kerkrade, Netherlands) Leading education and environment experts gathered today in the Netherlands to highlight the fundamental role that education plays in achieving a sustainable future worldwide. The discussion took place at the 6th Global Conference of Regional Centres of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development, which kicked off today in Kerkrade, the Netherlands. 

The conference is one of the few international events focused on the need to provide people with more information and higher quality education on sustainability issues, in order to help them create positive social and environmental change in their communities. 
Speaking at the opening session of the conference, the Vice-Rector of United Nations University and Director of its Institute of Advanced Studies, Govindan Parayil said, “Much of our work is built around the spirit of community, social learning and respect for different forms of knowledge. It is this spirit of community that brings together partners of community around the world.”
Among the more than 150 participants at this year’s conference were representatives from UNDP, UNESCO as well as mayors and governors from several cities in Europe, Asia and the United States. Also in attendance were leading education and environment experts from more than 58 Regional Centres of Expertise – the official title of a global network of experts and leaders on education and sustainable development issues. Spread out across 89 countries, the RCE network works collaboratively to develop innovative approaches to sustainable development. Put into practice, these approaches can then be scaled up to provide viable alternatives to unsustainable development activities. 
The Conference is being organized by the Education for Sustainable Development programme at UN University’s Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS), which spearheaded the creation of the RCE network in 2003. The conference is being hosted by the RCE Rhine-Meuse, which has achieved significant success in creating strong partnerships among key education and environment groups, private industry and governments in the region, with the goal of enhancing quality education as the bases for sustainable development in Europe.
The outcomes from this year’s conference will feed into broader efforts around the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD, 2005-2014). As the Decade approaches its end, the participants at this conference hope to formulate a common vision and strategy for the RCE network that will ensure enhanced collaboration towards 2014 and beyond.For more information on the conference and its outcomes, please visit the Education for Sustainable Development programme (here) or contact Anna Dirksen (