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From November 10 to 12, the UNESCO World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) was convened in Nagoya, Japan. Held at the Nagoya Congress Center, the conference marked the end of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005–2014) and the launch of the Global Action Programme (GAP) on ESD.
Under the banner of “Learning Today for a Sustainable Future,” the conference reviewed the achievements of the UN decade and set the stage for the future. Prior to the world conference, stakeholder meetings were held in Okayama Prefecture from November 4 to 8, where the key ESD stakeholder groups gathered to provide input and recommendations to the conference.
On November 5, to mark the holding of the conference, SGI President Daisaku Ikeda published an article titled “A chain reaction of empowerment” in the Japan Times. In the article, Mr. Ikeda stated, “Civil society efforts to promote ESD have seen successes in communities throughout the world. The challenge now is for more and more individuals to make a personal commitment to strengthen and expand this network of concern.”
To help strengthen grassroots participation in creating a sustainable society, SGI held and supported a number of events in conjunction with the stakeholder meetings and the conference.
In both Okayama and Nagoya, SGI organized showings of the exhibition “Seeds of Hope: Visions of sustainability, steps toward change.” The exhibition was created by SGI and the Earth Charter International in 2010 to promote the UN Decade for ESD. Seeds of Hope aims to encourage the viewer to overcome feelings of powerlessness and highlights the fact that a single individual can initiate positive change in their environment. In Okayama the exhibition was shown at the Lit City Building from November 5 to 6 and at the Soka Gakkai Okayama Culture Center from November 7 to 9. In Nagoya, several panels were displayed in a booth at the Nagoya Congress Center from November 10 to 12.
related article Learn, Reflect, Empower: SGI and Education for Sustainable Development by Nobuyuki Asai, Japan The SGI has developed wide-ranging activities to promote environmental protection and sustainable development. Education and awareness-raising are the main focus. On November 10, SGI supported a workshop held by Earth Charter International as a side event of the main conference. Titled “Looking back to forge the future: Lessons learned from values-based ESD experiences,” the workshop was held at the Nagoya Congress Center. At the workshop, Mirian Vilela, executive director of the Earth Charter International Secretariat, announced the completion of an e-book titled The Heart of the Matter: Infusing Sustainability Values in Education. A collection of ESD experiences with the Earth Charter, the book includes a chapter describing SGI’s initiatives such as the film “A Quiet Revolution” and the exhibitions “Seeds of Change: The Earth Charter and Human Potential” and Seeds of Hope.
On November 8, invited by Soka Gakkai in Aichi Prefecture, Ms. Vilela gave a lecture titled “The Sustainability Vision through the Lenses of the Earth Charter” at the Chubu Ikeda Memorial Hall. Ms. Vilela emphasized that the most important thing individuals can do toward the creation of a sustainable global society is to reconsider the societal, environmental and economic impact of their actions. She also suggested using the Earth Charter as a compass by which humanity can find its direction.
[Adapted from a report from Soka Gakkai and articles in the November 5 and 11, 2014, issues of Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan; photos courtesy of Seikyo Shimbun]
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