Monday, January 18, 2016

The role of universities in supporting UNESCO designated sites, beacons of sustainability

How can the world effectively address the magnitude of emerging global problems it faces, including that of feeding adequately 9 billion people by 2050 in a manner that advances economic development and reduces pressure on the environment? This question is key in a world struggling for growth and answering it requires a “great balancing act”. Rather than relying on short-term solutions that could damage our environment and degrade our natural resources, long-lasting solutions must be found to yield valuable lessons for the future. The answer lies in the relationship between people and their ecosystems, their cultural and natural heritage. 

Communities of UNESCO designated sites across the world - World Heritage sites and Biosphere Reserves - have identified ways to grow in harmony with their environment, drawing on their knowledge, traditional practices and active participation. Unparalleled for their communicative value, UNESCO designated sites are beacons of sustainability and laboratories for Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), exemplary tools to raise global awareness and educate people about the issues Sustainable Development (SD). 

Sustainable Development is also a core issue that universities - specifically those belonging to MedUnNET - are expected to address by fostering research, spreading knowledge, and promoting new competencies and behavioural models in order to encourage a more globally, responsible action. The meeting in Athens will explore the role that universities play in supporting UNESCO designated sites in the Euro-Mediterranean region to promote ESD and sustainable practices within recent, global and regional, contexts and initiatives.

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