Transformative Education Forum
  • Date submitted: 1 Nov 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Major Group
  • Name: Transformative Education Forum
  • Submission Document: Download
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Fueling the great transition in education: Rio+20 as the turning point for investing into the transformation of formal educational systems


Our expectation for the outcome of Rio+20 is to make the conference the turning point for heavily investing into transforming formal educational systems. While the current proposals for Rio+20 are important for rethinking sustainable development, there must be a dedicated section in the outcome document that addresses the need for mainstreaming Education for Sustainable Development.

Education for sustainable development is necessarily an interdisciplinary approach to learning. The fragmentation of educational ?disciplines? has separated the scientific from the natural world, and allowed us to create technological models that were ultimately destructive to larger economic, social and environmental systems. This resulted in creating great wealth for the very few, with ecological devastation to the planet. There are few who would dispute the need for a new approach to Education for Sustainable Development, given global climate change, environmental degradation and the death of

4.9 million a year from chemical exposure (World Health Organization 2011).

An education that reconnects learning goals to sustainable development must be one that creates the problem-solving actor who understand the critical environmental crises in their international contexts and the social-political and economic crises that define many of those contexts. You literally have to educate for a ?world? thinker and doer. The essential paradigm shift then, is not just in minor curriculum and some added subject matter but a shift in the root understanding of the learner-thinker and engaged problem-solver that a sustainable society hopes to engender:

Education of the whole person - mind, body, animating spirit

Integration of traditional as well as modern, rational ?ways of knowing?

100% inclusivity

Peer and participatory, experiential modes of learning are present alongside ?teacher led? and delivered methods

Pedagogies that create the felt sensation and states of awareness of living systems principles

Validation of diverse and multiple intelligences including the key emotional, social and cultural intelligences

Balance STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) with sustainability, value systems, ethics, moralities and philosophy including examination of economic and social equity systems

Inclusion of groundbreaking new neuroscience and brain theory on how the integrated brain actually learns best

Intragenerational justice, human rights and peace education for a sustainable humanity as well as a sustainable planet


There is a wide number of initiatives which currently struggle to put into practice Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). The UN Decade for ESD helped tremendously in connecting grassroots initiatives with each other and building a collective conceptual framework. However, what all of these initiatives have in common is that they are still ?drops in the ocean? and do not yet reach the critical mass leading to a paradigm change in education. As stated by the World ESD conference in Bonn in January 2009: despite huge progress in the conceptual framework for ESD in many countries, ESD is still in its infancy and we now need to put this knowledge into action.

Existing multilateral environmental agreements such as climate, chemical and waste conventions need to drastically change scale in their approach to education and public awareness. Not surprisingly, sustainable development is still predominantly hypocritical, leading to small alterations of overall unchanged curves. The drastic changes needed, first and foremost in industrialized countries, have not yet occurred. The challenges in achieving this change are deeply rooted in education.


We urgently need to make sustainability a core component of formal education. We need to enter a great transition in education where the fundamentals - learning to read, count and write - also include learning the knowledge and skills needed to change the course of society, both locally and globally. A genuinely sustainable world is one which ultimately has achieved:

Global environmental sustainability: all resources used are renewable, all waste is either avoided or recycled, zero emission achieved (CO2 concentrations stabilised)

Global solidarity: millennium development goals achieved + human rights and fundamental public goods for all (education, health and justice)

Global justice: equity achieved for all people through mechanisms ensuring fair distribution of wealth

Global governance with the capacity to address global issues / global citizenship: democratic expression, control & participation from the local to global level.


Addressing the real causes and raising the engagements at the level of the problems calls for: 1) large-scale solutions 2) new, different, daring approaches that have not yet been tried 3) visionary, long-term strategies 4) global integrated approaches able to reach daily educational practices everywhere in the world.

We call upon the conference to :

make ESD one of the Rio+20 sustainable development goals

direct the Global Environment Facility to create a dedicated fund to accelerate the training of future citizens in sustainability

? At the global level: network high-level training/r&d public centers in all regions of the world, with the best minds and resources for developing tools, curricula, training, networking etc.

? At the country/local level:

? demonstrate sustainability in buildings, local transport, food, waste etc.

? curriculum change: knowledge + skills, values, ethics

-teacher training in all aspects of sustainability: climate/environment + global citizenship, health, peace, development etc.

Further recommendations for partnership timelines and decision-making are currently being addressed at the Transformational Education Forum (TEF) convening in Monterey, California from October 30th to November 2nd 2011, hosted by the Naval Post Graduate School. The Monterey TEF Forum is composed of 64 participants, representing 25 countries and 35 educators/directors/managers and community leaders directly involved in international education activities around the world. Over this four-day period, participants in this forum have addressed critical problems and needs in education, ranging from groundbreaking Neuroscience and Brain Theory to emerging IT educational technologies. Participants in the TEF are currently developing a set of twelve guiding principals for Education for Sustainable Development, which should be discussed at R+20 for future implementation.

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