Blog

UNEA 2 Resolution on Environmental Education— a promising step to elevate the importance of EE globally

On May 26, 2016, the United Nations Environment Programme unveiled a resolution entitled, “Investing in human capacity for sustainable development through environmental education and training” during the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) in Nairobi, Kenya. This resolution highlights the history and importance of environmental education in a global context, while also recognizing the unique role that the UN can play in strengthening it. It was one resolution among 25 (for full list, see here: http://web.unep.org/unea/table-resolutions-adopted-unea-2) and was adopted by nearly 200 countries.

This particular resolution was declared during the UNEA-2 Convention as part of a Green Room event (one of the side events happening in conjunction with the full UNEA). NAAEE’s Judy Braus had the great honor at speaking during this same Green Room event, and was in the room while it was adopted by UNEA President Oyun Sanjaasuren of Mongolia (you can learn more about her here: http://www.unep.org/newscentre/Default.aspx?DocumentID=2791&ArticleID=10...).

The resolution is fairly short, but here are some highlights taken directly from it. The resolution:

Requests the Executive Director to continue to provide technical assistance and capacity-building through access to environmental education, training and capacity-building opportunities, including increased capacity development to help Member States, upon request, to integrate the environmental dimension into their relevant curricula in line with the implementation of the Bali Strategic Plan for Technology Support and Capacity-building, especially for developing countries and countries with economies in transition as appropriate;

2. Also requests the Executive Director to promote cooperation and interaction between the United Nations Environment Programme and the higher education community in mainstreaming environment and sustainability across education and training;

3. Further requests the Executive Director to enhance cooperation with all relevant United Nations bodies, including the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the United Nations University, the secretariats of multilateral environmental agreements, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research and other international institutions, for better implementation of the Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development;

4. Invites Member States in a position to do so and other relevant stakeholders to support the work of the United Nations Environment Programme to enhance environmental education and training;

5. Requests the Executive Director to report on progress in the implementation of the present resolution to the United Nations Environment Assembly at its third session.

I will be curious to monitor this resolution during the year ahead. Of course, since the resolution is brief, questions also remain. What will “enhancing environmental education and training” look like? What types of capacity building assistance will be available? What will greater cooperation with UN bodies entail?

What is clear is that environmental education is of great importance within UNEP. I noted that higher education was also referenced, and call your attention to the highly successful Global Universities Partnership on Environment for Sustainability (GUPES) program—a UN flagship program designed to integrate the principles of sustainability into higher education institutions around the world. To find out more, visit http://www.unep.org/training/programmes/gupes.asp.

I’ll definitely report back to you all if there are opportunities for broader engagement. In the meantime, do any of you have experience in how these UN resolutions tend to be implemented? What are your thoughts on what it says?