United Nations Environment Programmes (UNEP) for Sustainable Development through Education With Science and Human Abilities Enhancement We Can Establish Justice and Reach Economic and Environmental Prosperity

Marie Daher Corthay
Regional Information and Outreach Specialist, United Nations Environment Programme, Bahrain

It is worldwide commonly understood that investment in meaningful education is the motive towards human development. Science enables people to fight against the troubles of life in order to gain what they were planning for during the school days, including: finding prestigious jobs and high level positions. This, in turn, will contribute in driving economy forward and raise living and social standards in addition to qualifying some people for making suitable decisions for our world which faces many forms of challenges where there are many reasons causing poverty, unemployment, conflicts, pollution unstable economy and an environment on the brink of the pit.

In the shadow of such challenges, the United Nations System set global developmental sustainable plans, strategies and objectives in order to rise up our world. The most emerging issue that the UN called for is to educate sustainable development. Because the UN is completely sure that science improves performance and human abilities in all economic, technical, health, social and legislative fields, it inserted education on top of its global agenda. This will facilitate implementing the values which the UN seek for since it has been established for bringing peace, security and prosperity into the world which embraces different cultures and trends among the seven billion people.

Here is the UN tries to enhance the concept of education after releasing the first global education initiative in 2012 aiming at building a better world and achieving the millennial objectives in order to make the expectations of reaching development sustainable objectives more realistic and applicable. Such initiative revolves around three priorities. First, is to unify global efforts to include every child in the world in the educational process and provide facilities for joining school. Second, is to improve the quality of education. Third, is to enhance the concept of the global citizenship.

However, on talking about the achievement of sustainable development, education has a strategic dimension that requires specialization in order to understand needs and define gaps and how to deal with then and find them a solution. In this behalf, the UNEP – the supreme authority in the UN System concerning environmental affairs and the only reference of global environmental legislative – allocates many programmes and activities, in all global, regional and national fields, which enhance the concept of environment maintenance and protection. This is in addition to the global programmes derived from the UNEP, such as the “Environmental Education and Training” initiative which aims at enhancing the concept of raising generations on good environmental manners and behaviors and providing such generations with knowledge in addition to enhancing their abilities and enabling them to rise up our communities which are used to unsustainable consumption modes without considering the consequences resulting in wasting our natural wealth. Furthermore, the UNEP seeks for global and regional contributions in order to enhance all types of environmental educational initiatives taking into consideration inclusive and sustainable development not limited non-renewable partial development.

The UNEP’s “Environmental Education and Training” initiative succeeded in greeninig many curriculums and universities of the high sector of the world. In addition, such initiative focused on involving the Arab universities in its activities through inviting them to join its plans and strategies.

Before we start talking about the solutions provided by the UNEP through encouraging developmental environmental education, let’s agree that ambiguity, which dominated sustainable development, has been manifested more and more. Such ambiguity is clearly described, nowadays, as the greatest result of the international efforts and conditions which clarified how communities are thirsty for overcoming the crises caused by economic and social practices in spite of their success in technological development scoring a qualitative leap in many fields of our life as human beings. So if we could understand it we may not implement it because of our approval to the aforementioned economic system which focuses on a part of a whole. Whilst sustainable development concerns with our development and progress provided that such progress must not be priority unless it is equivalent to the human health and prosperity and the Planet health and sustainability as well. Then, we would achieve our objectives and sustainability. This is the sustainable development: plans, strategies and solutions for a continually renewable economic, social and environmental life. In other words, it means a harmony with the elements of life in the present and futures.

After our trial to simplify the concept of the sustainable development, let’s go back to our main objective and highlight the importance of education in in achieving sustainable development through the role of the UNEP. If we focus of the initiatives and programmes involved in the UNEP throughout the Arab region, two global-regional initiatives could come to our mind: the Eye On Environmental Education initiative, derived from the Eye On Earth Summit, and Zayed Foundation’s initiative for environment in participation with the UNEP: Education for Sustainable Development.

In participation with stakeholders and in the presence of 900 representatives from all sectors in the world, the UNEP released the Eye On Environmental Education initiative in 2011 through the first session of the Eye On Earth Summit, hosted by Abu Dhabi, concerning the facility of providing all people with the information and knowledge required for achieving sustainable development. An objective of such initiative, out of eight ones, is to enhance the international efforts for inserting the environmental programmes and information into the educational curriculums. Furthermore, such initiative aims at graduating people with environmental background bristling with information and knowledge which help make enforced decisions the environmental conditions in the world. The new thing, brought by such initiative for the educational environmental programmes in the world, is that such initiative creates an infrastructure unifying the global environmental initiatives of all types, either the official or unofficial ones; hence, enhances the abilities of all sectors.

A task, sought by such initiative to make it come true, is to encourage governments and peoples to share and exchange information in the field of environmental education, in addition to improving the knowledge base which can help improve the abilities of environmental and social decisionmaking and target the high education sector through planning environmental educational curriculum in order to promote better environmental information and practices and enhance the mechanisms of the national environmental planning.

On the other side, few weeks passed since the International Zayed Foundation for the Environment has declared its new innovative initiative in participation with the UNEP in order to enhance education for sustainable development. International Zayed Foundation for the Environment frequently worked with the UNEP, side by side, for many years in order to increase the level of awareness and provide knowledge, particularly in the field of sustainable consumption and production. The activities, shared between the two parties, aim at strengthening the concept of sustainable development in the curriculums and principles of education. During the historical conference of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), held in June in Nairobi, capital of Kenya, transmitted by global information channels, in the presence of H.E. Albert II, Prince of Monaco, both the International Zayed Foundation for Environment and the UNRP declared the new partnership about Education for Sustainable Development initiative, where the foundation allocated $100,000.00 for producing, preparing and approving a reference for the educational curriculums on the global green economy for achieving sustainable development and providing with the relevant knowledge for academicians and curriculum planners who aim at developing innovative programmes on the green economy for achieving sustainable development.

The two partied didn’t satisfy only with such declaration, they released Young Scientists Award for Environmental Suitability. Such new class aims of the Zayed Award for Environment highlight the works of the youth talented scientists in all over the world in the fields of environment and green technology researches which aimed at maintaining the environment and sustainable development safety. Such award will be given on a two-year basis for sustainable development, which is worth $50,000.00, during the celebration of Zayed International Award for Environment, Dubai, at the end of each course. Such initiative also motivates young scientists for spreading their science and informing the audience of the findings of the researches they perform and the effects of such research on our environment and society in addition to take more responsibilities in the environmental and sustainable development programmes. Also, this Award, which is an example of the efforts exerted by Zayed Foundation, will be helpful in the environmental field and sharing young scientists with decision-making in the field of science and environment.

Ever since the era of Plato and Aristotle, philosophers called for science and poets cherished it as the basis of any civilized society and the legalization of the rules which established the first seven countries and organized relations between humans. Now, UN (particularly UNEP) started initiatives and strategic partnerships in order to improve education in our progress towards the sustain development adding a touch of sustainability to the prosperity and welfare of the ancient east which is still the solution to bring security and peace to our environment which is dying due to our methods of exploiting its resources. Therefore, science is the salvation to our planet.

Important References:

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP): http://www.unep.org/training

Eye on Earth Summit: http://www.eoesummit.org

UN Global Education First Initiative: http://www.globaleducationfirst.org

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