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Global University Network for Innovation (GUNi)
  • Date submitted: 2 Nov 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Major Group
  • Submission Document: Download
  • Additional Document:


Input on UNCSD Compilation Document

1. Expectations of Outcome: What are the expectations for the outcome of Rio +20, and what are the concrete proposals in this regard, including views on a possible structure of the Outcome document?

In the Outcome Document, two key aspects for the construction of sustainable development should appear: the role of knowledge and its use, and the role of education in the construction of a sustainable future for humanity and the planet:

- The Role of Knowledge:

We are on the verge of a change in the model of civilization, which cannot be constructed from the old paradigms of a system which has already met its limits. Sustainability involves the development of a new culture that attributes a different kind of value to knowledge and that questions the assumptions on which we are sustaining the comprehension of the world and the human dynamics in it.

The major contribution of higher education to sustainability is the co-creation of pertinent knowledge for the understanding of reality, and of doing it with anticipation so as to play a proactive and committed role in the transformation and positive change of societies.

The role of higher education as agents of social transformation and how its visions and actions could be re-oriented towards a new understanding of knowledge, broadening the scope of the use of knowledge in society to facilitate the emergence of better and positive contributions to global human coexistence.

Renew thought for society: break the conformity of thought by proactively criticizing the world of ideas. Transform the paradigms and beliefs established in social, economic and political systems, how we organize our community and how this is reflected in our education systems.

Analyze the ethical, social and environmental implications of the advance of knowledge: Increase the resources invested in analyzing the impact of science and technology and augment the capacity to absorb their expansion, in all aspects of human life.

- The role of Education:

Education is the key for change: sustainable development is a learning process, a way how people is prepared to live and to understand the world they live in. Rethink how we prosper, specially how we do it collectively and then we have to reconsider how we are educating and for what purpose. Now is the moment to widen the scope of education and research in society and to move beyond creating socio-economic wellbeing towards the transformation of society as a whole and the creation of a sustainable global community.

2. Comments on Existing Proposals: What are the comments, if any, on existing proposals: e.g. a green economy roadmap, framework for action, sustainable development goals, a revitalized global partnership for sustainable development, or others?

HEIs can contribute to a green economy and to sustainable development goals by providing the lessons learnt by its research, through the training of the professionals of the future, and by introducing technological advances.

- Research

Experiences and lessons learned: provide solutions through research and through higher education experiences on sustainable development. Democratize access to knowledge and research: provide open access to expert knowledge, making it as useful as it can be for international organizations, UN system, governments, civil associations and citizenry. Move to the idea of socially relevant knowledge as human heritage.

Networking and research for local needs and global challenges: Cooperation and co-creation of knowledge and technology. Local needs require local proposals in global frameworks, and global challenges require global solutions that are locally acceptable. However, global solutions can come from local experience and vice versa. Explore how to link scientific research and political decision making related to collective well-being.

- Training and development of professionals that can lead the shift towards sustainability

Go beyond educating professionals to educating citizens: The mision of higher education is to prepare critical professionals, with ethical awareness and civic commitment. Know how to contribute to the common good through professional practice. Educate for glocality, democracy, citinsehip, intercultural dialogue and relations, peace building, sustainability, global social justice and a deep understanding of life’s dynamics. Make links with previous levels of education. Introduce complexity, uncertainty and transdisciplinarity in the training and in research, towards a holistic vision of reality. Link different areas of knowledge in order to understand complex issues and find solutions to the great problems in the local and global context.

- Technology

Incorporate sustainability in the creation of technology: shift paradigms from individual competitiveness, economic profitability and a short-term focus to the collective, with social and human benefits and sustainable in the long term.

3. Views on Implementation: What are the views on implementation and on how to close the implementation gap, which relevant actors are envisaged as being involved (Governments, specific Major Groups, UN system, IFIs, etc.) It is necessary to shorten the time in which knowledge reaches society. The democratization of knowledge and education must bring better decisions and actions based on a suitable use of knowledge.

The access to education and specially to higher education is an indicator of human development and there is a co-relation between education and the eradication of poverty (source: GUNI Reports on Higher Education in the World).

4. Implementation Tools and Timelines: What specific cooperation mechanisms, partnership arrangements or other implementation tools are envisaged and what is the relevant time frame for the proposed decisions to be reached and actiond to be implemented?

Open up to society: proactive engagement in dialogue with citizens and the rest of social, cultural and economic stakeholders. Create a true knowledge-based society through engagement with society as a whole. Provide a plurality of expert advice in dealing with green economy, poverty and the sustainable development goals. The creation of real partnerships for the co-creation of knowledge and answers to problems and to co-create visions for the future. Partnerships between higher education institutions (at all levels or scales), partnerships with the community stakeholders, and partnerships with governements, NGOs, civil associations, etc. Become cosmopolitan centres of global culture: build bridges between different cultures and sources of knowledge. Knowledge is no longer produced exclusively by and consumed within universities. Instead, their task should be to connect different kinds of knowledge, forging links between knowledge and citizenship.

The Role of Tertiary Education

HEIs can play a significant role in building a sustainable paradigm. They may help in facing local and global challenges, facilitating society to answer major global challenges. Their vision and action could be reinforced with a role review towards the creation and distribution of socially relevant knowledge in education and research and in the relationship with communities. They can support, and even anticipate, ways for action to play a proactive and committed role in rebuilt societies.

Higher education can prepare people to handle complex realities in a simple way and they should integrate emotional abilities with instrumental and knowledge related abilities. They can train people to learn to learn; to fully understand auncertainty and change; to handle a vast and complex universe of data from many sources and of of many different natures; and to discriminate between information, knowledge and wisdom. They can train people to understand what we are, what we are like and how to be, both as individuals and as a group, and to manage their own education and development troughout life. It is an education based on the development of the individual. It is about learning to be, to know, to do, to live together and to transform oneself and society. All this implies personal, family and societal well-being; respecting and searching for knowledge and wisdom; engagement in productive work and recreation; social justice and cohesion; inter-cultural and international co-operation and peace; food security; active citizenship; futures thinking; responsible lifestyles; sharing of resources; and adaptability.
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