Intervention in Round-table parallel session 2 - Greening the economy: mainstreaming the environment into economic development
Dear participants, almost all what I wanted to say was said by Gerald Farthing in his nice speech in the previous plenary session so I will add now only few additional remarks.
Firstly – change to green economy cannot be provided only by new technologies, by technical and economic tools – it is also necessary to go into more deep changes that concern basic human values, general worldviews and scientific paradigms, and are demonstrated as a new, sustainable lifestyle through which we recognize needs of future generation.
Let me remind you about the conclusions of the first conference of EfE process in Dobříš – the final Ministerial declaration had 8 clear tasks for future process. These points are in more detail described .... and seven of them are being realized within… The only point to which was not paid sufficient attention is the one that concerns foundations of our thinking (Paragraph 35 of the Declaration):
The Ministers and the Commissioner recognised the importance of further discussions on human values and environmental ethics with a view to defining principles of environmental ethics, and encouraged the continuation of this dialogue, inter alia in the context of the new European Community environmental research programme.
And let me remind you that exactly this point was supposed as a very important by the founder of the EfE process, Josef Vavroušek, and in the topic of human values was one of three pillars of the first ministerial conference in Dobříš – it was discussed on a roundtable in which all of the ministers took part together with philosophers, NGOs and university teachers.
If we talk about education, we see the same situation – yes, we need perfectly educated people with high technical knowledge about new green technologies, but the same attention has to be paid to development of the common understanding of relations among ecological, economic and social problems and, above that, also to sustainable development as such: with its future orientation, ethical dimension and emphasis given to all kind of interrelationships (within the human society and beyond – towards non-human world). This is, why Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is so important in the transition to green economy –transition process that needs to be undertaken in order to apply sustainability principles in practice has to be understood not only by elites, but also by wide public. We need educated teachers, educated children, all population aware of current problems and envisaged responses to them.
For educational policy, Vilnius Strategy is from my point the right tool and the UN ECE Steering Committee for ESD is trying to do its best for its implementation. I hope that these efforts will be recognized internationally and get better support from national governments (also financial) – so that UN ECE role and activities in the UN Decade of ESD are strengthened.
The second topic, I wanted to mention in my intervention is the role of democracy and open access to information of all kind. While information on the state of environment is available to general public due to Aarhus Convention, the sharing of research outcomes and educational resources is still insufficient and many barriers prevent efficient use of the latest knowledge and methodologies, including educational. This theme is especially relevant when we are talking about higher education and resources produced within universities. Recently, some of them (by the way, not those environmentally oriented) came up with a strategy for the more effective use of educational resources. This trend was started by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology few years ago and has now been taken over by more and more universities.
Open educational resources (OER) are digital materials that can be re-used for teaching, learning, research and more, made available for free through open licenses, which allow uses of the materials that would not be easily permitted under copyright alone. As a mode for content creation and sharing, OER alone cannot award degrees nor provide academic or administrative support to students. So many universities enable now to use results of their work for free to wide community of other researches, students and public. And very interesting is the fact, that studies show this activity is at the end economically effective as it brings more interest and more students to the universities that promote this policy of open access.
One of the reasons, why I mention this in this forum is fact, that from public money from environmental ministries and from other public bodies are prepared many nice (but also expensive) educational programmes – interactive CDs, e-learning projects etc. etc. These resources are ambitious to reflect latest research findings (and are quickly outdated due to this fact), the knowledge comprised in them is highly relevant for practice, and they are usually developed simultaneously in different parts of the world (similar materials, textbooks etc. emerge). Most of them are licensed by the strict copyright which means that very difficult administrative procedure is necessary to update and upgrade them, in reality most of these materials are never updated or upgraded and instead of that they are replaced by brand new nice (expensive, and not so much innovative compared to previous version) materials paid, again, from public money. Accessibility of these materials would permit to put much more energy and finances in the process of their innovation.
Some of the governments understood this trend and published all their materials (which are not educational but paid from public money) under public domain licence – probably most progressive is the Dutch Government, but also materials of the Office of Russian president are published under CC licence!
I hope that also environmental education and ESD will meet this challenge and develop new policies that will ensure conditions for financing of all new educational materials from public money in future ‑ enormous wasting of financial and human resources that is underway today will be decreased.
Thank you for your attention