Tbilisi Communiqué calls for education to tackle biodiversity challenges

The Intergovernmental Conference Tbilis+35 recommends governments and other stakeholders to strengthen education for sustainability.

Tbilisi+35 commemorates the 1977 Tbilisi Declaration and 35 years of global educational efforts toward a sustainable world.

Shared with CEC by Katalin Czippan and Tea Siprashvili

Parallel to the IUCN World Conservation Congress, on 6 and 7 September 2012, more than 300 representatives of governments from 98 countries as well as intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations gathered for the Intergovernmental Conference on Environmental Education for Sustainable Development in Tbilisi, Georgia. The event was organized by the Government of Georgia in partnership with UNESCO and UNEP. While IUCN was not able to attend because of overlapping the two events, the IUCN CEC Regional Vice-Chair for Europe volunteered to support the organision and distribute the results.

Objectives of TBILISI+35:

  1. commemoration of the 35th anniversary of the 1977 Tbilisi Declaration;
  2. providing a platform for environmental, educational and other relevant authorities to enhance international cooperation for a concerted action for a sustainable future;
  3. acknowledgement of achievements of the global community in the implementation of EE and ESD;
  4. addressing the need for a balanced approach between environmental conservation and development; and
  5. presentation of recommendations in light of recent developments, particularly those resulting from the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development.

As Mr. Qian Tang, Assistant Director-General, UNESCO urged the Tbilisi+35 Conference participants to carry the flag of Tbilisi+35 forward in continuing Education for Sustainable Development beyond 2014. He stated in his address to the conference: ”Today, we have returned to Tbilisi. We have come to take stock of good practices in Environmental Education and Education for Sustainable Development that have been instituted since 1977…Today, we have the chance to shape an education that is relevant to the challenges of tomorrow… If we want our economies and societies to become green, we must empower all individuals and societies with the knowledge, skills and values to shape them."

The participating high-level government authorities and representatives of different intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations as well as world’s leading experts in the field of environmental education (EE) and education for sustainable development (ESD) adopted the Tbilisi Communiqué.

In its unanimously adopted Communiqué, Tbilisi+35 noted that the objectives outlined at the 1977 Tbilisi conference – namely awareness, knowledge, attitude, skills and participation – are still valid today, and that the main goal of aligning human behaviours, actions, practices and social conditions towards a sustainable future, has yet to be achieved. It noted with regret that the global community’s progress towards establishing ESD policies, strategies and initiatives at global, regional, national and local levels was still insufficient and unevenly distributed.

In the recommendations the Communiqué invites the governments and other stakeholders to encourage environmental, educational and other relevant ESD authorities and non-governmental organizations to actively incorporate ESD into National Environmental and Education Action Plans: "To this end, we commend the full utilization of existing resources including protected areas, such as UNESCO biosphere reserves, for outdoor learning and research; sensitizing children and adults to the existing and emerging sustainable development challenges and equipping them with hands-on knowledge and the skills for sustainable lifestyles."

Recognizing that evidence can support more appropriate policies, Tbilisi+35 recommended measures be taken to strengthen evidence-based research on ESD, both quantitative and qualitative, that will address learning processes and driving forces for positive change for environmental, economic and social sustainability in different contexts and settings.

Finally, Tbilisi+35 recommended that ESD be an integral element of the post 2014-2015 education and development agenda and the prospective Sustainable Development Goals, and that at the end of the UN Decade of ESD a substantial post-Decade framework be in place.


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