October 2014
September 2014

News - 9 November 2014

Three in four commitments to 2012 Higher Education Sustainability Initiative (HESI) implemented

(Nagoya, 9 November 2014) – Around three-quarters of all Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) having made a voluntary pledge as part of the Higher Education Sustainability Initiative (HESI) in 2012, were found to have made at least partial progress on their commitment, according to a preliminary report. The study to review the progress of the 272 HEI commitments made at the occasion of the Rio+20 Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, found that these commitments played an enabling role in mobilising HEIs towards ensuring a sustainable future. While the level of progress varied significantly among the committing institutions, this majority figure provides an optimistic outlook that these academic institutions are progressing on implementing the Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) agenda. The majority of institutions actively support sustainable development through education, research, operations and outreach programmes, demonstrating noteworthy patterns in the types of outcomes and the implementation methodologies used to achieve these outcomes. Tools leveraged by these institutions primarily included strategic plans, working groups and reporting.

The preliminary HESI progress report, conducted by the PRME Secretariat of the UN Global Compact Office, with comments from the HESI co-convening UN partners UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and United Nations University (UNU), was issued at the occasion of the International Conference on Higher Education for Sustainable Development on 9 November, in Nagoya, Japan, and the following UNESCO World Conference on Higher Education for Sustainable Development: Higher Education Beyond 2014, taking place from 10-12 November 2014. The former was organised by UNU, in collaboration with UNESCO, PRME, UN DESA, UNEP and the International Association of Universities, and reflected on the achievements and challenges for education institutions in implementing ESD priority areas. The conference also served as a follow-up to the commitments made by participants of HESI. Here, the conference provided a unique opportunity to look back on the progress made, as well as critically examine the challenges and collaboratively develop pathways to scale their transformative impact.

For a copy of the progress report, please see here.

For further information, please contact:
Jonas Haertle
Head, PRME Secretariat
UN Global Compact

09 Nov 2014

Conference Declaration Renews Commitments to Higher Education for Sustainable Development for UNESCO Global Action Program

(Nagoya, 9 November 2014) - United Nations University (UNU) in partnership with the PRME Secretariat and other UN organisations and programs organised the International Conference on Higher Education for Sustainable Development: Higher Education Beyond 2014 in Nagoya, Japan. Marking the final year of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD) 2005–2014, the conference celebrated achievements throughout the decade and reviewed commitments to education for sustainable development (ESD) beyond 2014. With approximately 750 participants from 66 countries, it highlighted the major challenges and pathways for transforming higher education, with a focus on mainstreaming innovative practices in learning, knowledge development, and research.

The conference was organised in collaboration with UNESCO, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the UN Environment Programme, the UN Global Compact Principles for Responsible Management Education initiative and the International Association of Universities (IAU). The co-organisers of the event were the Ministry of the Environment of Japan, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan and Nagoya University.

The conference resulted in the Nagoya Declaration on Higher Education for Sustainable Development, in which conference participants reaffirmed and renewed commitments made within the framework of the UN DESD. The declaration also serves as a call upon world leaders to support the transformative role of higher education towards sustainable development, and to recognise the essential role and responsibility of higher education institutions (HEIs) towards creating sustainable societies. The declaration and the outcomes of the event were shared at the UNESCO World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development, also held in Nagoya on 10–12 November.

The conference opened with remarks by David M. Malone (Rector, UNU), Irina Bokova (Director-General, UNESCO), and other high-level speakers. In the first high-level panel on the “whole-institution approach”, Hans Van Ginkel (former UNU Rector) called for HEIs to implement a matrix organisation principle by which disciplines are connected through breakthrough science. The whole-institution approach to ESD would need to go beyond education and research in order to reach society more broadly.

Jonas Haertle, Head, PRME Secretariat said: "This conference emphasised that many UN partners are committed to advancing ESD beyond 2014 through promoting sustainability values in curriculum, research and thought leadership. We are committed to strengthening our networks and links between different UN engagement platforms."

Discussions following the panel sessions focused on advancing policy, transforming learning and training environments, building capacities of educators and trainers, empowering and mobilising youth, accelerating sustainable solutions at the local level, and links between academia and the business sector.

For more information on the event please visit the conference website. Presentation slides are available in the Related Files tab.

Jonas Haertle
Head, PRME Secretariat

09 Nov 2014

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