Process Update

UN Decade of ESD: Process to inform the development of southern African guidelines for participation in the UN Decade

Important Newsflash - August 2005 !!!

Educators are participating in the development of southern African guidelines for the UN Decade on Education for Sustainable Development!

Can you also participate?

What progress?

As you may know, the SADC Regional Environmental Education Programme were requested by the SADC Secretariat to develop guidelines for participation in the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (see This Decade started this year, and the SADC REEP will release these guidelines in December this year, to mark the end of the first year of the UN Decade. Activities have started towards the development of these guidelines. This 'Process Update' provides you with a short progress report on what has been happening.

National consultations are happening!

The SADC REEP have launched a regional consultative process in which a series of national workshops are being held - one in each of the SADC countries. Most of the workshops are being held this month (August), and some will be held in early September.

A workshop was recently held with the 14 National EE Network Representatives at the SADC Regional Environmental Education Programme to discuss the national level consultations. Network representatives are all preparing their contributions to this process, and workshops are being organised around the region.

If you would like more information on the national level workshops, contact the consultations co-ordinator (his contact details are included below).

If you have missed the national consultation, or if you were unable to participate in consultations at this level, you can still participate - through local or individual processes.

Local consultations are happening!

A number of local consultations have already taken place, and more are being planned over the next 6 weeks. For example, the Western Cape Province in South Africa have held a consultation with local stakeholders and their provincial department of education. At a more local level, teachers and ESD practitioners in the local municipality of Makana in the Eastern Cape, South Africa have held a local level consultation. In this process teachers gave useful input into how conditions in classrooms should change, and how environmental issues in their community should be addressed, and also into how sustainability questions can be included into the curriculum in future! Other local level consultations that are being planned include a meeting with different Environmental Education Centres.

We would like to encourage YOU to plan a local level consultation in your organisation or in your community. Language is no barrier!! We have translated the consultation tool kit into French and Portuguese. Ask Elizabeth Martens or Tich Pesanayi for electronic versions.

Visit to make use of the support materials that have been provided for local level consultations, or just organise a local 'imbizo' to discuss environmental and sustainability issues in your community.

Discuss how education can help you respond to the issues and send in your ideas to as soon as you can! If you need advice or support on a local level consultation, please contact our consultation co-ordinator:

Tichaona Pesanayi
Environment Africa
81 Second Street, Mutare, Zimbabwe
P O Box 2000, Mutare
Email addresses: ; or
Tel/Fax: + 263 20 63504/67762
Cell: + 263 91 38 64 38

Individual contributions - Send in YOUR story .

We have already received over 300 individual contributions from ESD practitioners in the region. In these they have shared the work they are doing, the challenges they are facing, the partners they are working with, and some of their ideas for how ESD practices can take place in the next Decade. If you would like to make an individual contribution, visit the SADC REEP website on and fill in the questionnaire and mail it back to Elizabeth Martens on

You can also send in your project reports, or any suggestions that may contribute to the development of guidelines for environmental and sustainability education practitioners in the next Decade. We have even had someone sending us their 'stories'. Send your story to us too (even if it is only one paragraph long!), as we would like to incorporate many different stories from the southern African region in the DESD guidelines.

Environmental and sustainability education practitioners are educators who are working to make the world a better, more just place . They include health educators, gender educators, human rights educators, people working to improve literacy levels, those trying to ensure that all children have access to basic education, industry trainers implementing environmental management systems, and those working with communities to manage their natural resources more carefully so that future generations can also benefit from these resources (amongst others). They also include those educators who are working towards introducing new solutions to Africa's development challenges. Environmental educators in southern Africa have for a long time been working on these issues, and they can are also 'sustainability' educators. Even those who are critical of 'sustainability' or 'sustainable development' speak, can contribute to this process, as critical voices are as important to a process like this, as voices that are supportive of the ideas of sustainable development. We would like to hear from all of you!

If you know of someone who has been doing creative and important work in any of these areas, send this e-mail to them, and encourage them to make a contribution to the forthcoming ' Guidelines for Participation in the UN DESD '. They can read more about the process on . It is only through drawing on, and sharing our experience, that we can pro-actively into the future, as social change is closely linked to existing practice and ideas.

International support for the southern African process

We have received communications from the International Co-ordinator of the UNDESD, Aline Bory Adams. She has sent her encouragement for the process, and has agreed to meet with us later this year to discuss the outcomes of the process. We have also been given support for the process by some of our international friends, such as Professor Bob Jickling (Editor of the Canadian Journal of Environmental Education), Professor John Fien (Professor of Sustainability at RMIT University in Australia), Professor Daniella Tilbury (Co-ordinator of the IUCN Commission on Education and Communication); Professor Peter Corcoran (Senior Fellow of the University Leaders for a Sustainable Future and Educational Advisor to the Earth Charter Commission). They have all agreed to act as critical 'friends' to the southern African process. The United Nations Environment Programme are collaborating with UNESCO to develop Africa-wide guidelines for the UN DESD, and the southern African documents will 'feed in' to the broader Africa strategy development process at a workshop in Nairobi in October later this year.

Other regions, such as the Asia Pacific region have also been developing guidelines for the UN DESD. If you are interested in viewing these guidelines, visit

Additional support

A request has been made for some orientation material on ' What is Sustainable Development ' and ' What is Education for Sustainable Development ?' to be used in the workshops and local level consultations. In response we have produced a short document that could stimulate some discussions on these two questions (see attached document). This can be printed out, and used in national or local level consultations.
:: Download - What is Sustainable Development and Education for Sustainable Development (Word Document)
:: Download - What is Sustainable Developmentand Education for Sustainable Development (PDF Document)


Thank you for participating in this process. We look forward to hearing from you in the next six weeks!

Mumsie Gumede

Manager: SADC Regional Environmental Education Programme

In their joint statement in support of the Decade, UNESCO and UNEP have noted " the Decade is a unique avenue for stakeholders to make distinct but concerted contributions to sustainable development by investing in future generations ".

Do you have experience in education for sustainable development? (e.g. environmental education, gender education, health education, agricultural education, literacy education, community development education, human rights education etc)

Can you share this experience with others in the southern African Region?

If yes, then you are invited to participate in the development of southern African guidelines for the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development.

Read on .

In 2004 the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution declaring 2005-2014 as the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development. An implementation plan was developed, and was launched in March 2005 (see ). Countries and regions are being encouraged to develop policy and practice to strengthen the role of education in enabling sustainable development (involving ecological sustainability, human rights, social development and equitable economic growth).

SADC is launching a participatory initiative to develop guidelines for educators in southern Africa. Through this, SADC recognises the role of education in achieving the goals of the SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP), the NEPAD Plan of Implementation , the World Summit on Sustainable Development Plan of Implementation, Multilateral Environmental Agreements and the Millennium Development Goals.

The ' Guidelines for Participation in the UN Decade for ESD ' will be developed through a broad-based consultative process involving local level consultations, a series of national level workshops in each country with key stakeholders; as well as international consultations over a two month period (July - August 2005). The guidelines document will be a regional level document, but can be applied to strengthen policy and practice at national and local levels. The guidelines will draw on local, national and regional level experience and examples of practice, and will be developed for all sectors involved in education, training and development practices to further the aims of sustainable development in southern Africa.

The SADC Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Directorate has commissioned the SADC Regional Environmental Education Programme to lead the process of developing the guidelines. In line with the UN Decade of ESD Implementation Plan, a range of educational groups and sectors active at all levels, will need to contribute to the guidelines. These include health education, gender education, environmental education, economic education, agricultural education, as well as groups concerned with Education for All and Literacy education, as these are all crucial areas for ensuring a more sustainable future for southern Africans.

The team who will be co-ordinating this process includes:

  • Mumsie Gumede (Manager - SADC Regional Environmental Education Programme)
  • Heila Lotz-Sisitka (Murray & Roberts Chair of Environmental Education Unit, Rhodes University, South Africa)
  • Tichaona Pesanayi (Environment Africa, Zimbabwe)
  • Lausanne Olvitt (Rhodes University Environmental Education and Sustainability Unit, South Africa)

SADC Regional Environmental Education Programme