Internet notebook about my work: deep listening to facilitate positive change


Monday 2 July 2007

EE: boring most of the time!

WEEC 2007 - 2Environmental Education – in my experience – is boring most of the time, the challenge to you in this conference is innovation”, said Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa in the opening statement of the 2007 WEEC. “Environmental Education is one of the most effective means to meet the challenges of sustainability. It should focus on real outcomes and impact, with everyone understanding his or her role and contribute to sustainable development.

Over 1000 delegates had gathered in the ICC auditorium for the opening session to listen to welcome and keynote speeches. The Durban Serenade Choir of over 40 men and women gave the a festive undertone: a capella singing of beautiful harmonics in a marching tempo with stylized marching movements. Solos mixed with a chorus of great volume, demonstrating the self-confidence of the New South Africa.

Education is a two-way street: teachers also learn form learners. Everyone has a role to play, we all should become ambassadors for the environment”, said Rejoice Mabudafhasi, Deputy Minister of Environment and Tourism. Other quotes from speeches that appealed to me were:

Where there is wheel, there is a road. Where there is sustainable development, there is learning. Change is a process of learning together.
Akpezi Ogbuigwe (UNEP, Nairobi).

Education is about developing to become a better human being. No individual can achieve his or her goals in isolation. We need to develop a vision of interconnectedness to address issues such as democracy, growth, peace and environmental security. Education for sustainable development is about learning for that fundamental change”, said Ibrahim Thiaw, Director DEPI of UNEP Words that are very close to the vision of IUCN CEC, not surprisingly as Ibrahim has a long history with the Commission. He ended his speech in French: “Chers amis, le monde est a vous: educez-le! (My friends, the world is yours: educate it!).”

Most of the key-notes were presented by women. It contributed to a pleasant and constructive atmosphere of the opening session, setting the tone for the rest of the conference. After the session participants enjoyed the drinks and bites in the exhibition area and I walked back to the hotel to type this posting. Yes I was a bit concerned in the dark, especially when passing groups of young men. Nothing happened though. It must have been the Tara mantra, my wife had reminded me to recite when being alone on the street.

What else did I do today? In the morning I represented CEC at the meeting of the international advisory committee for the Tiblisi + 30 conference in Ahmedabad, end of this year. Kartikeya Sarabhai (CEE), Charles Hopkins UNESCO Chair) and Aline Bory-Adams (UNESCO, Paris) presided over a very constructive dialogue between about twenty leading experts in environmental education. The result was a sharper formulation of the framework to make this event a learning experience for the different leaders in environmental education and ESD. In the corridors I renewed friendship with many CEC members and listened to quite a few exciting stories and experiences. I look forward tol tomorrow’s program.

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