The Fourth International Conference o Environmental Education

For the first time, India hosted the International Conference on Environmental Education, held every 10 years. The 4th ICEE was jointly sponsored by UNESCO and UNEP. India bid for this Conference as an opportunity to showcase the sustainable development work being done by its government and corporate sector. CEE was the nodal and host agency for 4th ICEE.

ICEE brought together approximately 1500 participants around 600 of which participated from outside India. The participants included key policy makers, communication specialists, field practitioners, researchers, educators, youth representatives as well as persons from various UN and other international agencies.

An International Advisory Committee composed of experts in one or more technical areas related to EE and ESD provided guidance to realize the Conference objectives, and helped in consolidating the outcomes of the Conference in the form of Ahmedabad Declaration and Conference recommendations. ICEE examined what has emerged out of the discipline of EE since Tbilisi and the role of EE within ESD. Further, it sought to explore how EE can support ‘ESD’ – the emerging specialized discipline. The Conference aimed to establish linkages between EE and ESD and helped set the roadmap for progress through the DESD. Since by its nature EE needs to foster partnerships with many disciplines, ICEE looked into identifying such partnerships in consultation with practitioners from these areas.

The plenary sessions included special sessions to address the role of education in the context of Climate Change, Education for Water Resource Management, and HIV AIDS.
The thematic discussions at ICEE were structured as thirty workshops, reflecting the EE and ESD concerns and issues that have evolved in the areas over the last 30 years since Tbilisi. Every workshop took stock of their specific area in the context of ESD and identified the role of EE within this. The workshops also reviewed and reformulated EE in the context of the DESD. The workshops ran in parallel, from 21st to 28th of November. Individual working group sessions varied from one day to five days.

Crosscutting themes on Climate Change, Water and Food and Sustainable Lifestyles were addressed throughout the Conference. These were discussed during the plenary sessions and in various working group sessions.

ICEE provided an exciting forum for discussion, debate and professional networking. The exhibition area had arrangements for poster presentations, interactive exhibits, live demonstration areas etc. A dedicated section on DESD showcased activities undertaken by various Governments as initiatives towards achieving the objectives of the Decade. Special events included a Campaign for Sustainability by the Auto-rickshaw Driver’s Association of Ahmedabad, the launch of Hand Print for Sustainability, workshops for children etc.

The CEE campus which served as the Conference venue was planned based on an environment-society-and culture-friendly strategy. An attempt was made to limit waste generation. For example, participants were given a refillable bottle at the beginning of the Conference and filtered water coolers were placed all over the campus, in order to avoid use and throw bottles /glasses.

‘Energy modesty’ meaning energy saving and efficiency is keenly followed at CEE. The buildings are designed to harness natural light and air. The wooded surroundings helped in reducing the campus and indoor temperature by 2-3°C.

The ICEE Daily helped delegates keep track of the multitude of events during the Conference.

Parallel Workshops:

  1. Reorienting Formal Education towards ESD (Strategies, Pedagogy and Assessment)
  2. Teacher Education: A crucial contribution to the UNDESD
  3. Supporting Sustainable Development through Open and Distance Learning, including Technology Mediated Open and Distance Education (TechMODE)
  4. Higher Education for Sustainable Development
  5. Regional Centres of Expertise (RCEs)
  6. Non Formal Spaces of Learning
  7. Youth: Trend setters of ESD
  8. Health Concerns
  9. Art, Design and Ecology - The Role of Artists and Designers in Creative Environmental Education for Sustainable Development
  10. Workshop on Education for Disaster risk Reduction
  11. Education towards sustainability concerns of Natural Resources in Fragile Ecosystems
  12. Efficient use of energy and Alternative systems – addressing climate concerns through focused information support and capacity building
  13. Education for Innovation and Technology
  14. Mobilising Knowledge for Sustainable Development
  15. Integrating Values of Sustainability into education: The promise of the Earth Charter
  16. Linking Knowledge, Skills and Practices for Fostering Community Leadership, Education and Benefits – GEF UNDP Small Grants Program
  17. Meeting Challenges of Knowledge Management in Water and Sanitation
  18. Education for Sustainable Livelihoods
  19. Education for Sustainable Cities
  20. Sustainable Waste Management
  21. Responsible Corporate Citizenship: Key to a Sustainable Future
  22. Media and ESD workshop - ‘Building Public Awareness and Understanding of Sustainability’
  23. Roadmap for Creating a Research Foundation to Support the DESD
  24. Monitoring and Evaluating Progress during the UN DESD
  25. Biosphere Reserves and World Heritage Sites: Learning Laboratories for Sustainable Development
  26. Making Zoo Education Sustainable – with special focus on Fund Raising, PR and Marketing
  27. Education for Sustainable Consumption through the DESD
  28. Government Session - Sharing experiences and promoting collaboration
  29. UNEP’s Global Environment Report Volume 4(GEO 4) 2007: Promoting Environmental Research and Learning for Sustainable Development
  30. Role of Education in addressing Livestock, Environment and Development issues.
Valedictory Session
Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, addressed the valedictory session on 28th Nov 2007. He highlighted ten key aspects emerging from the Conference:

  1. The importance of the contribution of EE to ESD and to the DESD.
  2. The urgency of right decisions and the right actions.
  3. The non-formal and informal approaches to EE and ESD should be recognized as just as important as the formal education system.
  4. Teachers are a cornerstone of effective ESD programmes. They must draw upon local inputs, contexts and values as well as foster community ownership of the curriculum.
  5. It is necessary to unpack the category ‘learners’ in order to devise and implement suitably targeted approaches. They may include politics, business, media, professions etc.
  6. The importance of research into ESD along with the effective dissemination and utilization of research results.
  7. DESD has stimulated the launch of serious work on monitoring and evaluation and on the development of indicators of ESD.
  8. The Conference engaged with different frames of reference for ESD and EE, each capturing a dynamic link between the global and the local.
  9. ESD is a great vehicle for respecting our differences and building a common vision.
  10. We must listen to the voice of the youth.

Conference materials on the internet

  • Presentations of plenary sessions
  • Workshop reports, recommendations and presentations
  • Overall recommendations
  • Conference Declaration in English, Spanish, French and Japanese
  • Conference photo gallery
  • ICEE daily networking newsletter

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