31 May 2018
UNESCO Initiatives Examine Education for Sustainability , Financing for SDG 4
Photo by Children and Young People Living for Peace, Nigeria
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Key Partners of the Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development attended the meeting ‘Looking into the Future of ESD, Together’ in Costa Rica to discuss a draft position paper on the future of ESD.

The meeting also celebrated the launch of the UNESCO publication, ‘Issues and Trends in Education for Sustainable Development'.

The UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report team issued a policy paper on financial support for education.

31 May 2018: In April and May 2018, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) undertook initiatives that discussed the future of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), assessed ESD issues and trends, and examined financial support for education.

From 25-27 April 2018, over 90 Key Partners of the Global Action Programme (GAP) on ESD met at the University for Peace in San Jose, Costa Rica, to consider a draft position paper on the future of ESD. The meeting was organized by UNESCO in collaboration with the Earth Charter Initiative. According to UNESCO, participants discussed: the importance of ESD to the achievement of the SDGs and its role in promoting values and sustainable lifestyles, especially among youth; education for empowering local communities to act for sustainable development; the relevance of ESD in the context of extreme poverty; and the extent to which technological advances can change the discourse on sustainability and ESD.

The draft position paper, which was prepared by UNESCO, is expected to undergo a series of consultations, including the Technical Consultation Meeting on the Future of ESD convening from 9-10 July 2018, in Bangkok, Thailand. It will then be presented to the UNESCO Executive Board for approval. [UNESCO press release on GAP meeting] [Earth Charter Initiative press release] [GAP webpage]

The GAP meeting on ESD also celebrated the launch of the UNESCO publication titled, ‘Issues and Trends in Education for Sustainable Development.’ The publication examines: key ESD competencies and themes; advancing policy to achieve quality ESD; ways through which learning and training environments are transforming; building capacities of educators and trainers; the intentions and tensions related to “youth on the move;” accelerating sustainable solutions at the local level; youth as lead actors; scaling-up action for ESD; and monitoring progress towards SDG target 4.7 on ESD. The publication is part of the UNESCO’s ‘Education on the Move’ series, which reviews current trends in education and emerging challenges, and seeks to provide policy-makers, educators, and other stakeholders with state-of-the-art analyses of topical issues pertaining to ESD. [Publication: Issues and Trends in Education for Sustainable Development]

In May, the UNESCO Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report team issued a policy paper that discusses financial support for education and provides an update on donor commitments. The paper titled, ‘Aid to Education: a Return to Growth?,’ reports that in 2016, aid to education reached its highest level since records on disbursement were established in 2002, but adds that this amount is “well below” the level identified as necessary to cover the cost of reaching the targets of SDG 4 (quality education). It also notes that more remains to be done to ensure that aid goes where it is most needed and that the appropriate coordination mechanisms are in place.

According to the paper, in 2016 the US, the UK and the World Bank were the three largest donors, with disbursements amounting to 46% of total aid to basic education, and Norway spends 0.075% of its gross national income on basic education, the highest share among bilateral donors. The paper also reports that basic education aid to low-income countries fell from 52% in 2002 to 22% in 2016, and the share allocated to the least developed countries (LDCs) increased from 31% to 34%, which is below the peak of 47% reached in 2004. The authors suggest that the shortfall reflects the long-term decline in the share allocated to sub-Saharan Africa, which is home to half of all out-of-school children worldwide.

The paper concludes that: the increase in aid to education needs to be sustained for several years to make up for the stagnation over 2010-2015; the expansion and deepening of multilateral financing institutions targeting education offers hope for more progress; and adequate external financing opportunities for education should be available to both low- and lower-middle-income countries. [UNESCO policy paper on Aid to Education] [UNESCO press release on policy paper] [GEM blog on policy paper]

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