Statement by Ambassador Berger at a Youth Delegate side-event on Education for Sustainable Development

Oct 12, 2011

(as delivered)

Dear Youth Delegates, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, a warm welcome to yet another side event on “Youth and Participation at the UN” in the German House. I thank the youth delegates and DESA for their excellent organization.

For Germany ensuring participation of the world’s youth at the General Assembly is a crucial instrument within our Youth Delegate Program and after our good experiences with this program I can only encourage other Member States to enable their youth to participate and also set up a such a formalized Youth Delegates program in their respective countries.

The issue that the Youth Delegates have chosen to talk about at today’s side event is: “education for sustainable development”. This is a very interesting and indeed pressing issue, especially with a view to the upcoming Rio+20 discussions.

In Rio we will talk about the key question how we can green our economies, how we can decouple economic growth from the use of natural resources, how we have to change our production and consumption patterns in the coming years in order to keep our planet worth living. And there can be no doubt that education for sustainable development is key for achieving these ambitious goals.

Therefore I am glad that we have with us today some very eloquent panelists who are all personally involved in this important issue:

1.    Mr. Mitch Lowenthalwho has worked with the Commission on Sustainable Development . The CSD is to date one of the few UN-Commissions which has directly integrated Youth as Mayor Group. Mitch Lowenthal worked and interned in different areas dealing with environmental issues and sustainable development.

2.    In 2002 the Secretary General proclaimed 2005 – 2014 as the “Decade for Sustainable Development” under the auspices of the UNESCO. Ms Elizabeth Fordham who is with us today from UNESCO’s Education Sector will tell us something about the ongoing activities.

3.    Ms Mary Leoufrom the NYU/ Steinhardt School of Culture Education&Human Development will share with us her experiences of integrating sustainable development in higher school and university education and teacher´s programs  to raise the quality of teaching and learning for young people

But before giving the floor to our panelist, let me add some words on the situation in Germany:

In 1994 Germany incorporated the principle of sustainability as a national goal in its “Basic Law”. Article 20a speaks about the protection of the natural bases of life, as a responsability towards future generations.

President Christian Wulff is patron of the German activities within the framework of the decade on education for sustainable development, which are coordinated by the Ministry of Research and Technology, and involve several Federal Ministries, the German Parliament, Federal States, Media, private industry, academia and students.

Education for sustainable development is one of the major goals the international community has to achieve. In order to succeed and to reach the people, the general objectives have to be linked to regional and even local circumstances. In Germany we have developed a national action plan , we have an annual round table, including NGOs and civil society, but the key point seems to me is that projects are implemented on a local level, at the level of the 16 Federal States and also at the national level.

In 2009 at the World Conference for Education and Sustainable Development in Bonn more than 900 representatives of 150 UNESCO member states unanimously adopted the so-called Bonn Declaration for Education and Sustainable Development, which calls for an adjustment of global educational systems along the general principle of sustainable development – which has in the meantime been endorsed by nearly all UNESCO member states.

Although Germany has been quite active on this issue still more needs to be done. I am therefore looking forward to today´s discussion and invite you to remain alert and vocal on this important issue. Thank you.

I now give the floor to todays moderator Beppe Lovoi from the RIO+20 Secretariat of UN DESA, who is responsible for coordinating the participation of major groups stakeholders within the UN.

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