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UNESCO Chair Newsletter September 2023

Welcome to the September edition of our UNESCO Chair Newsletter!

First of all, welcome back to those who return for the beginning of the fall/winter session at York University. For many of you it is also the beginning of the new school year, and another full conference and meeting season lies ahead of us. With the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Summit mid-term review taking place in New York on 18-19 September 2023, it is time to take stock at the international, national and local level: what have we achieved, what needs to be done and how we can prioritize action to optimize our resources and accelerate progress towards 2030.

If you wish to learn more about where we stand today, please read the 2023 SDG Report: Special Edition. In order to expand the knowledge base for the discussion on our future, the UN Secretary-General launched a new Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) in August 2023. Its members are expected to advise the UN on breakthroughs in science and technology, and to support harnessing the benefits of these advances but mitigate potential risks.

Within all these increased efforts towards the SDGs, your work and research in Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is crucial. ESD is recognized as an integral element of the SDG 4 on Quality Education, a key enabler of all the other SDGs, and ESD implementation matters! To stay current, please find a number of updates for the coming weeks. Please feel free to share this newsletter with your colleagues. Be part of our global community and strive towards sustainability!

Warm regards,

Charles Hopkins & Katrin Kohl

UNESCO Chair in Reorienting Education towards Sustainability, York University

Leading up to the UN SDG Summit: act now for our common future

Join the UN campaign to act now for our shared futures, and inspire others to act for the SDGs. Almost 15 million actions have been taken to achieve the SDGs. You can join the movement and be part of a global community. In the lead up to the UN SDG Summit, the UN is calling on everyone to take action and learn more.

SDG Action Weekend on 16-17 September

Civil society, the private sector, youth, women, scientists, local and regional governments and other stakeholders all have a key role in the implementation of the SDGs. Join us in New York! Our participation, contributions and catalytic mobilization will be essential to the success of the UN SDG Summit and its follow-up. To generate additional opportunities for the engagement of all actors, the United Nations is convening an SDG Action Weekend on 16-17 September 2023 which will consist of the SDG Mobilization Day on Saturday, 16 September, and the SDG Acceleration Day on Sunday, 17 September, at United Nations Headquarters.

United Nations SDG Summit on 18-19 September

The 2023 UN SDG Summit will take place on 18-19 September 2023 in New York. It will mark the beginning of a new phase of accelerated progress towards the SDGs with high-level political guidance on transformative and accelerated actions leading up to 2030. The Summit will mark the half-way point to the deadline set for achieving the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. It will be the centrepiece of the High-level Week of the 78th UN General Assembly and will offer a response to the impact of multiple and interlocking crises facing the world and is expected to reignite a sense of hope, optimism, and enthusiasm for the 2030 Agenda.

UNESCO-IESALC-UNAI webinar on 18 September: the implementation of the SDGs in higher education

In the framework of the UN SDG Summit, the United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) and the UNESCO International Institute for Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNESCO-IESALC) will join efforts to engage specifically with higher education institutions around the world.

On 18 September 2023 at 10 am EST, they will host a joint webinar on advancing the SDGs in higher education. Higher education has a special role to play that goes way beyond teaching, research and community service by modelling the future we strive for.

11th Annual International Conference on Sustainable Development on 18-20 September

The 11th International Conference on Sustainable Development (ICSD) will take place as a hybrid event and will provide a forum for presentations and discussions from academia, civil society, UN agencies, government representatives and the private sector to find practical solutions towards achieving the SDGs.

Held in parallel to the SDG Summit, this year's theme The Midpoint of the SDGs: Global and Local Progress & Challenges will engage with the current gap of where we are now and where we need to be in order to achieve the SDGs in the next seven years. The 11th ICSD is hosted by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) in partnership with the Global Master’s in Development Practice (MDP).

8th International Youth Conference on 21-24 September

The 8th International Youth Conference (IYC8) will take place on 21-24 September 2023 in New York and provide an international platform for young researchers, academicians, and organizations working on sustainability and climate action to showcase their research and work. The IYC8 will empower young people from around the world to come together and share their voice for a sustainable future and achieving the SDGs. Youth Climate Report Director and UNESCO Chair Associate Mark Terry is invited to speak at the event on 23 September 2023.

UNESCO´s COP28 open call for Greening Education Pavilion sessions

The Greening Education Partnership invites all members and their partnering institutions to submit proposals for side events at COP28 by 8 September 2023.

All Greening Education events will be held at the Greening Education Pavilion during COP28. The Pavilion will be open for 12 days from 30 November 2023 to 12 December 2023 and the program will reflect the thematic days during COP28. The pavilion will be designed in a dynamic way and structured around the 4 pillars of action of the Greening Education Partnership: Greening Schools; Greening Curriculum; Greening Teacher Training and Education System’s Capacities; and Greening Communities.

While the call is open to anyone, spaces are limited and it is highly encouraged that entities partner with others on a joint submission, preferably with Greening Education Partnership members.

SDSN webinar on 11 September: mindfulness, citizenship, and engagement

The 4th session in the new SDSN USA webinar series on youth leadership and innovation for sustainable development on the road to COP28 will take place on 11 September 2023 at 3 pm EST. Focusing on mindfulness, citizenship and engagement, the conversation will further explore ways of meaningfully engaging with young people and empower them to drive innovation and transformative action towards sustainability.

Youth today have the most at stake when it comes to the climate crisis, as they will inherit the consequences of today's actions and inactions. To build real engagement on climate change among youth, it is critical to cultivate both mindfulness and a sense of citizenship. This webinar will offer insights on the importance of educating mindfully. Mindfulness as both an ontology and practice - supports youth in developing an awareness and understanding of one's thoughts and surroundings - helping youth better understand the scale and urgency of the climate challenge in a direct, visceral way. At the same time, fostering a sense of citizenship, where youth see themselves as active participants in society with a responsibility to others, gives them a sense of agency and motivation to take action. By combining mindfulness of the problem with a sense of citizenship and responsibility to act, youth can become a powerful force for driving climate solutions. Participants will also learn about pedagogical techniques to incorporate educating mindfully in classrooms and in the community. 

UNESCO-UNFCCC webinar on 12 September: how can we transform learning environments to shape the learning content?

The 4th session in this year's webinar series on the road to COP28 will discusses how the transformation of learning environments can support reorienting learning content towards sustainability. These reflections on school facilities and operations, school governance and community engagement can be widened into teaching and learning on climate change to ensure holistic learning environments where learners can live what they learn and learn what they live. The webinar will take place on 12 September 2023 at 10 am CEST.

Celebrate the International Day of Peace on 21 September

Each year the International Day of Peace is observed on 21 September. The UN has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, through observing 24 hours of non-violence and cease-fire. Never has our world needed peace more. Following the SDG Summit, this year’s theme is Actions for Peace: Our Ambition for the #GlobalGoals. It is a call to action that recognizes our individual and collective responsibility to foster peace. Fostering peace contributes to the realization of the SDGs which can create a culture of peace and a sustainable future for all.

Participate on social media, attend events, and celebrate this year's International Day of Peace on 21 September 2023.

2nd Spirituality and Sustainability Network Gathering on 6-8 October

Following this year's international 10th Spirituality and Sustainability Rome-Assisi Conference in June 2023, a second gathering of the Spirituality and Sustainability Global Network will focus on tangible actions towards infusing spirituality when forming holistic sustainable communities around the world. From 6 to 8 October 2023, interested stakeholders will come together in New York (United States) and address ways of engaging spiritual ways of understanding and implementing sustainability.

13th Global RCE Conference to take place from 31 October to 2 November

The 13th Global Conference of the Regional Centres of Expertise (RCEs) on ESD will be held in a hybrid format from 31 October to 2 November 2023 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The meeting will be jointly hosted by RCE Greater Gombak and RCE Greater Kuala Lumpur under the theme Whole Community Approach for ESD.

Achieving sustainable development entails instilling human values, ethics, and subliminal dimensions such as spirituality in the community. Driving change for the success of this agenda relies on the Whole Community Approach. This involves collaborations among multi-stakeholders such as the education sector, community members, industries/business, and the government sector. Promoting greater acceptance and participation of the community, the conference will serve as an opportunity for participants to collectively explore, share, and strengthen the knowledge, skills, and network to strengthen capacities and actions necessary to accomplish the SDGs.

IAU 2023 International Conference to be held on 25-27 November

Universities provide an excellent environment to foster intercultural learning and competences to embrace diversity, and treasure differences to thrive in a globalized world. On 25-27 November 2023, the importance of intercultural learning and dialogue will be discussed at the IAU 2023 International Conference in Doha, Qatar. Join Charles Hopkins and Katrin Kohl for a conversation on inclusive collaboration and reinforced community engagement to achieve the SDGs.

New publication: 2023 UNESCO Global Monitoring Report on technology in education

The 6th UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report, Technology in education: A tool on whose terms? was released in July 2023 alongside with 20 background papers and more than 200 PEER country profiles on laws and policies on technology in education. 

The 2023 UNESCO GEM Report states that regulations for technology set outside of the education sector will not necessarily cover education’s needs. The focus should be on learning outcomes, not digital inputs. To help improve learning, digital technology should be not a substitute for but a complement to face-to-face interaction with teachers. The report also explores three system-wide conditions (access to technology, governance regulation, and teacher preparation) that need to be met for any technology in education to reach its full potential.

New tool: SDG Synergies

Your institution aims towards a holistic approach towards the SDGs? Yet it is not quite clear whether individual policies or regulations enhance one another in achieving the diverse targets? Try this new tool on SDG Synergies.

New tool: Linked SDGs

Are you interested in better understanding whether your work relates to the SDGs? Try LinkedSDGs, a demo platform that extracts key concepts related to sustainable development from text documents. It also links them to the most relevant sustainable development goals, targets, indicators and series.

Be an early bird for the Earth Charter Conference 2024

On 12-14 April 2024, the next Earth Charter Conference 2024 will take place in person in Winter Park, Florida (United States) and focus on reimagining education for ecological civilizations. This three-day conference builds on four previous Earth Charter Conferences, engaging with ESD and global citizenship for planetary well-being. The event will bring together a global diversity of educators, activists and Earth Charter educators, affiliates, and partners, to share good practices and research. If you register before 15 October 2023, you can benefit from early bird rates.

Conference report: 6th Annual Conference on ESD in Bonga, Ethiopia

Held in July 2023, under the theme on Partnership for Environmental Literacy and Sustainable Communities, the conference offered policy statements, field work, professional training, progress reporting and planning sessions. The event was organized in collaboration with the Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology, the Southern Ethiopia Colleges of Teachers’ Education Network, and the Southern Ethiopian Evangelical Theological Seminaries Network, hosted in Bonga, Ethiopia. Leaders welcomed the participants and reaffirmed their commitment to the success of the conference and the network objectives. The encouraging words by UNESCO Chair Charles Hopkins reminded all participants that they are part of a global community, and the revised 'Priority Africa' will increase engagement in the coming years.

Courtesy: EGST Ethiopia

Exclusively for our Canadian community: participate in the 3rd national online course on environmental & sustainability education

After two very successful runs in 2021/2022, the 3rd pan-Canadian online course in environmental & sustainability education (ESE) for pre-service teachers will open in September 2023. The course will offer learnings in response to the climate crisis and the Accord on Education for a Sustainable Future issued by the Association of Canadian Deans of Education.

The ESE-TE Network aims to bring those studying to be K-12 educators from all provinces and territories in Canada together to learn about ESE collaboratively, ensuring that they have access to ESE at the start of their careers. The course is open to students registered in Faculties of Education and Early Childhood Programs in Canadian post-secondary institutions.

Details about the online course and how to sign up are found here with registration closing on 16 September 2023.