York named founding partner of new global UNESCO network on education for sustainable development

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York University is one of six founding partners of a new global UNESCO network on Education for Sustainable Development led by Leuphana University in Lüneburg, Germany.

Charles Hopkins
York’s UNESCO Chair in Reorienting Education towards Sustainability, Professor Charles Hopkins

UNESCO has awarded Leuphana University the global university network with a UNITWIN/UNESCO designation that will comprise higher education institutions and internationally engaged organizations to foster worldwide collaboration and knowledge mobilization toward the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This new Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and Societal Transformations (UNiEDS&ST) network will focus on ESD as a transformative force towards achieving the UN SDGs and a sustainable future for all.

The network will be a collaboration spanning 30 countries from Asia, Africa, Europe, Oceania and the Americas. It will address teachers at all levels as key players to foster sustainable development and peace through education. It aims to strengthen the role of quality education through research, policy development and implementation of ESD with a focus on teacher education.

“It is an honour to be a founding partner of this global alliance. It is one out of only 40 UNITWIN Networks worldwide,” said York’s UNESCO Chair in Reorienting Education towards Sustainability, Professor Charles Hopkins. “By collaborating globally, ESD knowledge, insight, research and experience can be more effectively and respectfully contextualized to enhance understanding in all UN regions simultaneously.”

UNiESD&ST will support UNESCO’s work with research designed to address the challenges of the ESD for 2030 Roadmap, a new framework that identifies ESD as a key enabler of all SDGs and an important measure of education quality.

York University was crucial in bringing this new network to life as the UNESCO Chair shepherded the application process that requires the support by National Commissions for UNESCO. York University’s  UNESCO Chair in Reorienting towards Sustainability was the first UNESCO Chair to be established related to ESD. Today, the Chair is active in more than 50 countries and coordinates two global networks, one focusing on teacher education and one researching how ESD initiatives may improve education outcomes for Indigenous children and youth. Since 2020, the UNESCO Chair was named focal point for the International Association of Universities to lead their efforts towards the UN SDG 4 on Quality Education in the Global Cluster of Higher Education and Research for Sustainable Development.

The other founding partners in this new alliance are:

  • Canada: UNESCO Chair in Reorienting Education towards Sustainability, York University
  • Costa Rica: UNESCO Chair on Education for Sustainable Development with the Earth Charter, The Earth Charter Center for Education for Sustainable Development and the University of Peace
  • Germany: UNESCO Chair on World Heritage and Biosphere Reserve Observation and Education, Heidelberg University of Education
  • Greece: UNESCO Chair in Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in Education for Sustainable Development, University of Crete
  • South Africa: DSI/NRF South African Research Chairs Initiatives (SARChI) Chair in Global Change and Social Learning Systems, Environmental Learning Research Centre, Rhodes University.

In the weeks to come, Leuphana University will host a series of virtual dialogues with all partners to further design activities for the research agenda and activate this new platform to create and share knowledge for a sustainable future.