In the run up to the upcoming World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) - to be held in Aichi-Nagoya, Japan in 2014 - UNESCO received 13 journalists from prominent media outlets around the world to discuss ESD and how it is implemented on local level at schools and private sectors.
The journalists participating in a two day media workshop came from countries as diverse as Mali, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Japan, China, Vietnam, the Philippines, India, Brazil, Argentine, Chili and Russian Federation to improve their understanding and reporting on ESD.
“We want a love affair between the media and ESD. For that, we need to get to know each other better and understand how we could be more attractive to one another,” said Soo-Hang Choi, Director of the Division of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development in her welcoming remarks.
On the first day, the journalists were briefed on the facts related to ESD and discussed the threats of climate change.
Wendy Watson-Wright, Assistant Director-General of the International Oceanographic Commission (IOC) spoke of the importance of raising public awareness on the dangers to oceans. They also studied good practices of ESD involving private companies and ASPnet schools around the world.
UNESCO/The Journalists at school
On the second day, the journalists visited a Junior High School College Michel-Chasles d’Epernon, one of the active ASPnet schools in France which has been implementing ESD through various subject matters such as math, science, English, art and even in the school canteen. In support of the International Year of Water (2013), the school theme this year is “water”. In this context, they are exchanging the results of analytical research conducted on the river in their region with another school in Burkina Faso, through the ASPnet international coordination.
The journalists also visited Cerib - a nearby research center for the precast concrete industry - to discover how this organization and the Michel-Chasles d’Epernon school are collaborating under a sustainable-development education partnership. A journalist of Clarin from Argentine, Alfredo Dillon, said “I was impressed to see the private sector enjoying its corporate responsibility by hosting on its premises pupils and teaching staff working on a pedagogical project - ‘Marboretum’ – that is addressing biodiversity issues.
Throughout the workshop, journalists made recommendations on how UNESCO and the media can collaborate more closely to promote ESD worldwide by putting it on the media agenda. The key is to focus on facts and avoid jargon to make sure messages are easy to understand and informative. It is equally important to provide concrete examples and human interest stories on ESD to persuade editors to feature ESD news stories more prominently.
Finally, journalists also spoke on the huge interest within their respective countries in UNESCO’s messages on ESD and the growing expectation that it can change the world.
At the workshop, the journalists discussed disaster preparedness, one of the central themes of ESD and viewed the TV documentary “The Kamaishi Miracle (NHK)”, which showed how well designed preparedness through education succeeded in saving the lives of 184 children in Japan, when the tsunami provoked by the earthquake violently hit the coast of Great East Japan.