Monday, May 23, 2005

A Note on Sustainable Development In Europe

Courtesy of Joan Masters.

----- Original Message -----
From: Simone Bilman
To: EducationLoop@yahoogroups.com
Sent: Sunday, May 22, 2005 5:40 AM
Subject: [EducationLoop] Sustainable Development in Switzerland

Joan, Sustainable Development (SD) is "Développement Durable" in french. Since all related documents in the websites are in french, I will try to translate the general ideas into english (sorry for my english which is getting worser every day).

-I live in Lausanne and the city's official website has a page called "Agenda 21" explaining that SD is a global vision based on the decisions taken in the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio. It's goals are the preservation of the environment, social solidarity and partnership between citizens and the authorities. SD projects are grouped in 4 main categories:
.Social (creating quality social environment, helping citizens develop harmonious interpersonal relationships, preventing social exclusion, making citizens participate in decisions (an exemple for this is a project called "Quartiers 21" where the Lausanne administration organised "innovation workshops" inviting citizens to talk about and resolve their neighborhood's problems. People were delphied and happy to think that they decided where a new playground for their children or a new park should be built).
.Educational (Activities for children to teach them how to protect the environment, health education in schools, citizenship education, creation of "children's councils" to give kids the possibility to participate in decision making and learn children's rights.)
.Environmental (Energy consumption, building parking lots, organising a day without your car in city centers etc.)
.Financial (Fiscal policies for social equity and economical viability).

-In Geneva, the city also has an official website called "Agenda 21" which is very well documented. It even indicates the new laws that have been added to the state's legislation in order to respond to SD requirements (The terms "agenda 21", "Développment Durable (SD)" and reference to the UN's Rio conference are in the law!) According to the law, the new responsibilities of the state related to SD are: environmental managment, teacher education for SD, information and education of the society about SD, prevention of social exclusion, participation of Geneva to the Healty-Cities project initiated by the WHO, taking actions in favor if international cooperation for development.
Before the adoption of SD laws in Geneva, unelected "experts" prepared 6 reports with propositions about the changes needed to implement correctly SD. I read the report on Education and it says that in order to fulfill SD requirements, active methods of learning should be used, children should construct their own knowledge and learn by working on projects, SD must be treated in a transdisciplinary way (in every school subject), health prevention, citizenship education and a pedagogy of values must be implemented, instead of transmitting knowledge, teachers should propose to children ways of thinking and of knowing how to be and observe children's attitudes, education must be based on a systemic approach. Sadly, all of these propositions are already implemented in schools in Switzerland.
In the Geneva Agenda 21 website, I found the address of another website called Global Vision. Here is the web page (in english) of this organization explaining how Global Vision, financed by the United Nations, is proud of Geneva's efforts on SD:
http://www.global-vision.org/geneva/indexENG.html .

Best of all. Simone

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