Learning to live sustainably in cities: Implementing ESD in learning cities in the Arab States

6 April 2018

‘Learning to live sustainably in cities: Implementing Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in learning cities’ was the theme of a regional conference held in Aswan, Egypt, from 5 to 7 March 2018. Around 50 participants from more than 15 countries, including city leaders and other stakeholders from the region as well as special guest Her Royal Highness Princess of Jordan and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Dana Firas.

Exchanging practices and expert views enriched participants’ understanding of how to localize the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in cities – that, along with ESD, was the central topic at the event, as was the concept of a learning city and its role in achieving the SDGs and ESD.

Aswan, a member of the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities since 2017, has put ESD at the centre of its learning city initiatives. The city complemented the theoretical programme with practical insights and gave opportunity to Conference participants to experience the learning city festival ‘Reaching ESD through quality education’, where schools and partners from around the city incorporate the SDGs in various projects focusing on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM); and innovation and teaching, among others.

The workshop was jointly organized by the UNESCO Regional Office in Beirut in cooperation with the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL); the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO); the UNESCO Office in Cairo and UNESCO Headquarters.

Results and planned actions following the meeting will be consolidated in a conference report. In addition, follow-up meetings in the region are planned in order to mobilize local actors and strengthen cooperation between and among learning cities in the area and encourage the development of more learning cities.

This workshop was part of a series of events to promote ESD across all UNESCO regions. Previous meetings have been held in Hamburg, Germany, for Europe and North America (12 to 14 December 2016); in Villa María, Argentina, for Latin America and the Caribbean (26 to 28 April 2017); in New Delhi, India, for Asia and the Pacific (28 to 30 November 2017); and in Nairobi, Kenya, for Africa (7 to 8 December 2017).