RCEs Strengthen Action on Global Crises through “Heart, Head, and Hands”

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  • 2021•11•26     Edinburgh

    The 12th global conference of the Regional Centres of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development (RCEs) was held online on 16–18 November 2021, on the theme “Achieving the SDGs: Action through Learning in a Time of Global Crises.” Over three days, 351 participants shared and celebrated good practices involving action through learning from across the RCEs network, and how action towards the ESD for 2030 agenda could be strengthened.

    The 12th Global RCE Conference was jointly hosted by RCE Scotland, and by UNU-IAS as the secretariat of the Global RCE Network.

    The conference explored three sub-themes, based on a concept developed by Sir Patrick Geddes, a 19th Century Scottish polymath and educational visionary:

    • Hearts: What kind of world do we want? How do we engage hearts and minds?
    • Heads: Visioning, thinking and reflecting: planning for action on ESD and the SDGs
    • Hands: Making it happen: taking action on ESD and the SDGs

    Opening the conference, Shinobu Yume Yamaguchi (Director, UNU-IAS) emphasised the unique nature of RCEs as powerful mechanisms to translate the global agenda into local actions through multi-stakeholder partnerships, and as platforms for collaboration. The launch of the new RCE Roadmap in 2021 has also set the direction and strategy for the network over the next 10 years, to make education a vital mechanism for sustainable development.

    The conference programme included a series of keynotes, panel sessions, practice sharing sessions, and workshops. In the Practice Sharing Sessions RCEs shared case studies on a range of topics including creative approaches to engaging civil society, creating and working on shared visions with local communities, how to inspire young people, and the impact of stories in connecting people with complex issues like climate change.

    Participants also joined workshops on a range of topics including circular economy and its relevance to addressing the climate emergency, engaging communities to talk about the climate crisis; youth work’s contributions to tackling the crisis, and supporting educators to be agents of change, as well as practitioners to integrate the SDGs into teaching and learning.

    On the final day of the conference, the winners of the RCE Youth Climate Art Challenge and the 10th RCE Awards were announced and celebrated. Jonghwi Park (Head of Innovation and Education Programme, UNU-IAS), presented five awards for the art challenge, which engaged youth in creating artworks on the themes of hearts, heads, and hands related to climate action. A total of 28 RCE Awards were presented by Philip Vaughter (Research Consultant, UNU-IAS), selected from a diverse range of submissions that spanned all of the SDGs. The awards featured projects that have effectively engaged across the system, used applied knowledge, and reached and educated local communities.

    Further information and resources on the 12th Global RCE Conference are available on the RCE Network website.