ECO- UNESCO is the Irish Partner for University Educators for Sustainable Development (UE4SD)

On November 23-24, ECO-UNESCO’s National Director will be attending the 2015 UE4SD Annual Meeting and COPERNICUS Alliance Conference in Madrid, Spain. This is the 2nd edition of the event and will see the sharing of the New UE4SD website of resources and the launch of the Leading Practice Publication (LPP) – a book of leading examples of professional development in Education for Sustainable Development in European Higher Education. Here is some information about this programme and the reason why we are involved in it.

What is UE4SD?

UE4SD is a Consortium of 53 partners from 33 countries across Europe. This 3 years project commenced in 2013 and aims at supporting Higher Education and training staff to enable them “to prepare students regardless of their courses or specialisation, to understand and apply their professional and global responsibilities in sustainability” It includes plans for university staff to develop professional competences and the academic leadership capabilities linked to Education for Sustainable Development. The HE sector is critically positioned to address sustainable development as it prepares the future generation of professionals, challenges dominant paradigms and produces groundbreaking research. However, there is evidence suggesting that re-orienting the higher education curriculum towards sustainable development still needs guidance and support, if universities are to contribute to a more sustainable future.

UE4SD seeks to establish a leading expert group in Education for Sustainable Development in higher education in Europe and will create a platform to combine and share the expertise of network partners so that they can inform policy and practice well beyond the life of the project. Its activities are closely associated with COPERNICUS Alliance – the European Network of Higher Education for Sustainable Development. The European Commission is funding the project under the Life Long Learning Programme – Erasmus Academic Networks.

Why is ECO-UNESCO a partner of UE4SD?

ECO-UNESCO has extensive experience in the area of Environmental Education and Education for Sustainable Development and runs a range of innovative youth, education and training programmes. We run a programme of interactive workshops, an all Ireland environmental youth awards scheme called the Young Environmentalist Awards, a network of ECO-UNESCO clubs; a range of youth peer education programmes including Youth for Sustainable Development and ECO-Choices, develops and runs training courses and produces education resources. ECO-UNESCO also runs a programme to promote a whole institute approach to sustainability called the ECO Sustainability Award. In 2009, ECO-UNESCO’s Youth for Sustainable Development’ project was selected by the UNECE as an example of a Good practice project in the UNECE region as part of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development 2005-2014.

ECO-UNESCO delivers a range of training courses including short trainings; further education courses and accredited courses to educators, teachers, youth leaders and the general public. ECO-UNESCO runs continuous professional development training courses to teachers including primary school ins-service teacher training. ECO-UNESCO is also a member of the Ubuntu network of third level pre-service teacher training colleges and courses. It has been active at third level education and has delivered training courses to third level lecturers and educators in University of Limerick, Dundalk Institute of Technology among others.

ECO-UNESCO has an extensive network in Ireland and works with primary and secondary level schools and teachers, youth sector, further education institutes, third level institutes, NGOs among others. It works proactively with the formal and non-formal education sectors; delivers programmes in conjunction with local authorities; is a member of the Irish Environmental Network and the National Youth Council of Ireland. It has over 10,000 participants involved in its programmes on an annual basis with a reach to many more thousands.

On an all-Ireland level ECO-UNESCO is a member of the Environmental Education Forum in Northern Ireland and internationally is a member of Youth and the Environment Europe; the World Federation of UNESCO Clubs, Centres and Associations; the WEEC Network and has links with SeeD UK. It has represented Ireland at a variety of international ESD conferences including: Learning to Change our World, Gothenburg, Sweden 2004 Building capacity and empowerment through ESD, Esbjerg, Denmark 2006 UNESCO World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development- Moving into the Second Half of the UN Decade, Bonn Germany 2009.

As an advocate for greater integration of environmental education into policy, ECO-UNESCO was appointed by the Department of Education and Science in Ireland to carry out stakeholder consultation and develop a discussion paper for the development of a National Strategy in Education for Sustainable Development in Ireland in 2007. ECO-UNESCO carried out extensive research in the formal, non formal and informal educations sectors in Ireland as well as international research and completed the discussion paper providing recommendations on education for sustainable development in Ireland.

ECO-UNESCO has also produced a wide range of publications for use by educators, teachers and those interested in working with others on environmental issues.

For more information on UE4SD please go to: http://www.ue4sd.eu/