Every year the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development meets to advance the UN System’s agenda on sustainable development. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) led the discussion on urgent environmental issues through five side-events. This article is part of the coverage of the forum’s 2020 edition.
“We must radically reform our education system in response to the climate crisis and the ecological emergency,” said Zamzam Ibrahim, youth representative of Teach the Future, a campaign to repurpose the UK education system around the climate emergency and ecological crisis.
Ibrahim was one of three students participating in a United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)-led panel discussion on higher education’s support to regenerative pathways at the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.
His call to transform higher education to better equip students to tackle the environmental challenges was reiterated by other students on the panel and in the audience.
President of Arizona State University, Professor Michael Crow, echoed this in his remarks to the panel, saying that, in their current state, universities are inadequately equipped to effectively address our environmental problems and pointing to lack of diversification and institutional slowness as some of the reasons for this.
The Higher Education Sustainability Initiative special event also included several high-level UN speakers, including Ms Stefania Giannini, Assistant Director-General for Education, UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and Mr Elliott Harris, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development and Chief Economist, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), who in their remarks both focused on the role and importance of higher education against the backdrop of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Going forward, bridging the digital divide and making higher education more equitable will be key pieces of the education sector’s effort to build back better.
Source: UN Environment Programme (UNEP)
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