Moacir Gadotti Shows the Way Forward on ESD at UN Conference

The Earth Charter was a part of the International Workshop on the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, held in Bonn, Germany, on the 28th and 29th of November, 2006.


Moacir Gadotti, the Earth Charter Initiative Affiliate in Brazil and Director of Paulo Freire Institute, participated and spoke. He asked, “What skills do we need to learn to promote Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)? What attitudes and behaviors can we stimulate to improve ESD?”


To answer, he presented new ideas for reorienting educational curricula and for new synergies. “Our curricula and educational systems are reproducing unsustainable values,” he said. “To introduce the culture of sustainability into school systems we need to re-educate the systems. They are currently part of the problem, not part of the solution.”


Gadotti called for more education on how to think globally, on learning how to think, and on “not just thinking thoughts already thought.” He also called for education about feelings because “in ESD, sensibility is as important as knowledge and information.” And he emphasized learning about our terrestrial identity as part of the human condition, as Edgar Morin stressed. Finally, we need education “for simplicity, quietude, serenity, and peace,” he said — and to improve our ability to listen, to learn how to live together, and to share and explore together.


This should become part of “a pedagogy of sustainability,” Gadotti said. ESD involves a new perception of Earth as one single, diverse community, and we need to sustain the Earth Charter, as adopted by UNESCO in 2002, he continued.


To build synergy with other education efforts, Gadotti called for establishing links to the Literacy Decade. He suggested using sustainability literature as material for people learning to read, especially adults. As Paulo Freire said: “the reading of the world precedes the reading of the word.”


Links to other important efforts should also be established, including to the Plan of Action of Dakar, which insists on the urgency of preventing AIDS, and to the Millenium Goals, the Environmental Education Movement (mainly in Latin America), the Local Agenda 21, the Social Economy based on collaborative principles, and the World Social Forum, said Gadotti.


Using the wiki principle (like the wikipedia) and the Internet, he said that it may be possible to reach people and transform ESD. The challenge, he says, is to change paths and walk towards sustainability. We need to distinguish between education about sustainable development and education for sustainable development, he said.