I had the wonderful opportunity to co-faciliate the UNESCO Youth Leadership Training on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) for the Asia-Pacific Region from 15-17 November, 2017 in Bangkok, Thailand with Patrick Petit from Goi Peace Foundation. This two-day training is designed to sensitize youth on ESD concepts and strengthen their capacity to become ESD multipliers in order to reach a more just and sustainable world. This effort aims in helping the implementation of UNESCO Global Action Programme on ESD Priority Area #4, which is focused on youth engagement.
This youth training was hosted by UNESCO Bangkok – Asia Pacific Regional Bureau for Education with collaboration from the Earth Charter International (ECI), Goi Peace Foundation, and Compass Education. There were 36 youth participants from 24 countries across the Asia-Pacific region as far east as the Cook Islands all the way to Iran farthest west. Within the three-day workshop, we had an opportunity to deepen our understanding and knowledge on ESD through topics such as systems thinking, and conflict transformation, leadership, communication, networking, and more.
The focus of the workshop was to use experiential learning to digest the materials. We involved role-play, listening activities, visioning activities, dancing, dialogue and much more. As a facilitator I learned so much from the participants’ experiences and traditions from all of their countries. We ended the second day with participants volunteering to show the group their traditional dances while playing their music from back home. The rest of the group had to follow suit and dance what they just learned. It was a rich experience being able to share thoughts, concepts, ideas, and stories for three days.
The last day was an excursion to Bang Krachao, an artificial island south of Bangkok known as the “Green Lung” community of the Chao Phraya River. The field trip design focused on the integration of a natural mangrove ecosystem and a traditional agricultural community into a metropolitan urban landscape supporting community livelihoods. We used the AtKisson Sustainability Compass as an observation and data collection lens in conjunction with systems thinking games and synthesis methods to understand the linkages and relationships that exist in this community. The experiential field-learning was facilitated in large part by Compass Education’s Youth Empowerment Programme (YEP) youth leaders (senior high school students ages 17-18 years of age) who are trained and highly experienced with using and teaching/leading others. It was unique inter-generational learning experience beneficial to both the participants and the facilitators.
At the end of the third day participants received their certificates of completion and now they form part of the global network of ESD Youth Leaders around the world. Now participants must return home and replicate a similar workshop in their communities touching on some of the themes we covered over the three days in Bangkok. The idea of this training is to mobilize youth leaders in Education for Sustainable Development around the world in order to solve our most pressing challenges for a sustainable future. I believe youth returned home with hope and inspiration to tackle these challenges.
Written by: Christine Lacayo, Youth Projects Coordinator Earth Charter International
Photos by: Christine Lacayo, UNESCO Bangkok, and Compass Education
For a reflection from participant and Earth Charter Youth, Phat Nguyen, visit: http://earthcharter.org/news-post/empoweing-asia-pacific-youth-leaders-education-sustainable-development/