The Asia-Pacific region is characterized by diversity in all aspects – landscape, culture, ecology, religion, and ethnicity. It is also home to more than 4.3 billion people, or approximately 60% of total world’s population. Despite economic growth, social development, and technological advances, the region hosts many different serious global challenges. More than two-thirds of people lack access to basic sanitation, underweight children and extreme poverty can be found in the region. The region is considered to be the most vulnerable in the world when it comes to natural disaster. All of these challenges call for a sustainable solution which can help maintain human dignity of our fellow human beings. Education for Sustainable Development is viewed as one of the solutions, which can empower the learners to tackle these challenges and transform the society.
In cooperation with the Earth Charter International (ECI), Goi Peace Foundation, and Compass Education; UNESCO Bangkok – Asia Pacific Regional Bureau for Education hosted the Asia-Pacific Workshop for Youth Leadership Training on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) from 15-17 November, 2017 in Bangkok, Thailand. The training saw the participation of more than 30 representatives with different backgrounds across the Asia-Pacific. I was fortunate enough to be selected as one of ECI representatives to join this training. Within the three-day workshop, we had an opportunity to deepen our understanding of ESD as well as to discuss various topics under ESD, such as sustainability, systems thinking, and conflict transformation.
Each session was very interactive by using different activities, such as games, dialogue, and reflection. Consequently, many of us fully engaged with the topics and learned many new things from not only the facilitators but other participants. A full-day field trip to Bang Krachao, known as the “green lung of Bangkok”, was marked as a the final day of the workshop. This field trip was mainly facilitated by Compass Education and we gained comparative learning by observing how the community sustains itself economically, environmentally, and socially reflecting upon what we had discussed during the workshop.
In summary, I feel very grateful to UNESCO Bangkok, the Earth Charter International, Goi Peace Foundation, and Compass Education for bringing us to this wonderful workshop. I feel thankful for all of the friends that I met during the workshop for their respect, contribution, and open-minds. As a future peace educator, I found the workshop empowering and useful. Through this workshop, I could expand my understanding of ESD and broaden my international network of like-minded people in the Asia-Pacific region. This gives me a hope that we together can transform the region and the world for a better tomorrow.
Written by: Former Earth Charter Intern, Phat Nguyen
Photos by: UNESCO Bangkok and Compass Education