Learning to live sustainably: The role of cities


Education for Sustainable Development Regional Meeting Europe and North America
14 December 2016

Regional meeting spearheaded by the Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development

More than 50 experts and city representatives from Europe and North America gathered in the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, Germany, from 12 to 14 December 2016, to further advance the role of cities in accelerating sustainable solutions at local level through education. The Europe and North America region was the first to adopt officially the strategy of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), which aims to promote a better quality of life for populations and human settlements.

In her opening remarks, Katharina Fegebank, Deputy Mayor and Senator of Science, Research and Equalities of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, said:

In Hamburg we have about 2,500 bridges. […] Perhaps we can see our bridges as symbols for education. In education, it is also important to build bridges, especially when it comes to education for sustainable development […]. The UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning, right around the corner here, is an important partner supporting us in building international bridges in education and culture.

Her remarks set the stage for later discussions which explored the need to closely link education to sustainability, across different levels of society.

Learning to live in a sustainable way and securing people’s involvement and participation in community and urban life are the key factors in ensuring sustainable economic, social and environmental development. For this reason, the workshop examined how education and learning beyond the formal system can be used to support the implementation of the five Ps (planet, people, peace, prosperity and partnership) to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Experts shared their views on ESD, with cities providing insight into their best practice and enriching discussions on the challenges of promoting the various SDGs through education and lifelong learning at city level. These discussions helped promote awareness and develop training on integrating ESD in their development agendas.

UNESCO promotes ESD through the Global Action Programme (GAP), the official follow-up to the UN Decade for ESD. It is against this background that key partners, the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities, with its secretariat in the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) in Hamburg, and the City of Hamburg, organized the workshop for Europe and North America.