Nolet attends UN World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development

Western Washington University professor Victor Nolet was part of the U.S. delegation that attended the 2014 UNESCO World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development in Nagoya, Japan, Nov. 10 to 12.

Participants from 200 countries gathered in Japan for the world conference, which focused on the role education can play in preparing the world’s youth for a sustainable future as the planet is set to face growing economic, social and environmental challenges. Participation in the World Conference was by invitation only and invitees were nominated by their countries.

“I was honored to be able to have been nominated to join our U.S. delegation to the World Conference and proud to represent Western in the process. I think it speaks well of our university’s reputation as a leader in education for sustainability,” said Nolet, Secondary Education professor in Western’s Woodring College of Education.

According to the UN News Centre, conference participants took stock of the achievements of the UN Decade of ESD, which ran from 2005 to 2014, and addressed issues that will confront the international community in the years to come.

As part of its overall assessment of the UN Decade of ESD, UNESCO presented the Conference with a report entitled Shaping the Future We Want , which analyzes the impact of ESD initiatives across the world. Based on questionnaires responded to by 70 countries, the document reports that two-thirds of the countries concerned have already a national ESD strategy or plan in place, indicating “an increased global recognition that education is a critical tool for moving societies toward sustainable development,” a UNESCO press release said.

The U.S. delegation was led by education and youth specialists from the U.S. State Department and U.S. Department of Education. Nolet was part of a team of expert advisers representing various education sectors, including PK-12, faith communities, higher education, and non-formal and community education. Nolet’s area of expertise is in teacher education, which also intersects with higher education and PK-12.

Nolet said much of what he learned at the conference can be applied at Western.

“The conference comes at a perfect time to inform our work here at Western. As we move beyond simply education about sustainability to educating for sustainability, we will look for ways to engage the entire Western community,” Nolet said.

“We have struggled for some time, at Western, to understand the broader implications of education for sustainability that go well beyond the goals of greening our campus or educating about environmental, energy, and climate change issues,” Nolet said. “For example the sustainable development goals also address issues such as reducing extreme poverty, gender equity, and creating just and equitable economies. The ideas and strategies that were highlighted at the World Conference can be a powerful catalyst for moving this work along. I’m really looking forward to sharing what I learned at the conference.”