When you think sustainable development you probably think about new green infrastructure in cities or a government sponsored green jobs initiatives. Today, GEF’s CEO, Victoria Waters, participated in a U.S. State Department briefing meeting that gave new voice to the meaning of sustainable development.
Now, sustainable development means the intersection of environment and economy with a renewed focus on the impact of sustainability education. A 2011 AASHE report stated that “Around the world in a variety of national and cultural contexts, tertiary education has become a significant force in the discussion and implementation of sustainable development. TE institutions have demonstrated that they can and must address issues of sustainability.”
GEF and its partners are working hard to provide the much needed curriculum and programs to make it happen. “By integrating sustainable development into curriculum, skills training and student development, tertiary education will equip the future with people who have the knowledge and capacity to positively impact the global economic and educational systems, to eradicate poverty and improve access to education for all,” (AASHE, 2011).
All it takes is the first step. For example, by introducing students to the principles of gardening, kids connect with nature in a new way that fosters respect for our planet and understanding of global agricultural concerns. Or how about connecting students’ STEM courses to sustainability concepts through a simple energy audit at their school? Students learn fundamental skills (science, technology, engineering, and math) to conduct the audit, then they can begin to create meaningful connections to human activities, public health, and sustainability. The opportunities are limitless, and world leaders are taking notice.