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The Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda led by the United Nations

In 2000, the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in New York was an important milestone for intergovernmental cooperation that we could compare with own constitution of the United Nations in October of 1945, when humanity was threatened to become a huge atmosphere of “radioactive ash.” The dawn of the third millennium would begin with the agreement of 189 Member States to achieve eight global goals of human development for 2015: the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This was a historic agreement where the sovereign states reaffirmed the commitments made in previous conferences in Stockholm (1972), the work of the “Brundtland Commission” and the report Our Common Future (1987), the Earth Summit (1992), the Action Program of Barbados (1994), the Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen (1995), the Kyoto Protocol (1997), as well as other

© Collado-Ruano Javier, 2015

meetings of remarkable connotations. Thereby, the MDG are the object of study and analysis in the global political framework throughout 2015. The final reports of the UN will help us to achieve a deeper understanding about the transnational issues that characterize the current planetary civilization beyond their national borders. In addition, the international debate will also be focused in the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) led by the United Nations because for the year 2030.

The uncontrolled exploitation of natural resources is an international issue where different geopolitical actors (international institutions, Nation-States, non- governmental organizations of civil society, local and regional administrations, etc.) research and analyze for decades the transnational phenomena that affect the lives of global citizenship. Economic competition characterized by irrational growth of industrial societies has highlighted the unsustainability of the capitalist production system for future generations. We cannot maintain the current capitalist socioeconomic order because it is incompatible with the planet´s limits. In words of the moral philosopher and coordinator of the Transdisciplinary Research Group about Socio-ecologic Transitions1 Jorge Riechmann [Riechmann, 2014: p.24]: “There are not natural resources and ecologic space enough to extend the way of production and consumption dominant today in United States, European Union or Japan to the entire planet”. Therefore, the global economic crisis is actually a crisis of planetary civilization. The global citizenship of the 21st century needs new tools to understand reality, and tools to transform it. For this reason, I consider the epistemological symbiosis between transdisciplinary methodology and a biomimetic approach constitutes the DNA of a genuine tool of civilizational transformation.

SDGs are a challenge of global governance without historical precedent requiring new multidimensional synergies of glocal character between global citizens in every corner of the planet. It is required an effort of international cooperation of the plural unity in the human diversity and the promotion of a planetary-cosmic personality [Bazaluk, 2013; Bazaluk, 2014] with a sense of belonging to a supranational community with common destiny. The complexity of SDGs will demand new political formulas with a strategic action plan in all levels, because they are systemic, interbounds, and interdependent goals: as the same neuronal connections of our brains. In this sense, I am agreeing with the article “Neurophilosophy in the Formation of Planetary-Cosmic Personality”, where Ukrainian philosopher and cosmologist Oleg Bazaluk [Bazaluk, 2014: p.12] considers that “for planetary- cosmic personality there are no boundaries of conventions and stereotypes. The only acceptable criterion for evaluating its activities is a «benefit for civilization», which mind brings during the realization of its «mission».” This planetary-cosmic personality is in harmony with the aim to achieve the SDGs. The era of globalization is in a continuous evolution, like life on Earth or in the universe itself. The network society of 21st century is still expanding multidimensionally at different levels of reality (local, regional, national, and international): generating an extensive network of universal interdependence of political, economic, technologic, ecologic, and cultural phenomena [Castells, 2000].

1 To know more about the socio-ecologic and transdisciplinary work, check the following link: http://transecos.org/

The Need for Global Citizenship Education in the Post-2015 Development Agenda

As discussions around the post-2015 development agenda are consolidating, the international education community is calling for an education that promotes not only cognitive skills but also those values, attitudes and skills that are necessary for forging a more peaceful, just, inclusive and sustainable world. As debate over the post-2015 education agenda reaches the decision point, attention is turning to implementation mechanisms that will allow the new targets to be reached. Ahead of the World Education Forum in Incheon (May 2015), the Oslo Summit on Education for Development (July 2015), the Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa (July 2015), the UN High-Level Summit in New York (September 2015), and the COP 21 Paris Sustainable Innovation forum (December 2015), the “Second UNESCO Forum on Global Citizenship Education — Building Peaceful and Sustainable Societies: Preparing for post-2015” has considered GCED in the context of the post- 2015 education agenda including consideration of the emerging Framework of Action, and the role of GCED for peace. This is in line with the proposal of the EFA Steering Committee and that of the Open Working Group for Sustainable Development Goals for the post-2015 development agenda, in which GCED is proposed as one of the targets of the education goal.

The concept of “global citizenship” or “world citizen” has been the subject of study and debate since the Stoic philosophical movement approached it in the Greece of the third century BC, in the Hellenistic period. During all this time, many authors over the world have explored its meaning, practices, and applications. Throughout the Big History [Christian, 2010] of mankind on Earth, every society or human culture has developed their own ways to organize and manage life, and with that, their own learning-teaching processes and institutions. Without a doubt, the traditional concept of national citizenship is changing under the influence of multiple processes associated with globalization, because it creates economic, social, and cultural changes beyond the national borders. Since the beginning of the 21st century, the idea of global citizenship has been marked by two major schools of thought: one that supports the economic globalization and debates about international business, such as the G20 and the World Economic Forum; and one that criticizes this trend and aims for an alter-globalization [Rossiaud, 2012], such as the World Social Forum with Noam Chomsky, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Ignacio Ramonet, Walden Bello, Sebastão Salgado, Boaventura de Souza Santos, and Joseph Stiglitz to the head. However, the notion of “global citizenship” acquired momentum when the UN Secretary-General launched his Global Education First Initiative (GEFI) in September 2012, recognizing the role of education in fostering global citizenship by making it one of GEFI priorities, next to access and quality of education. On one way or another, people and institutions around the world are questioning the value and meaning of Global Citizenship Education (GCED) in the current context of globalization. If it is true that education cannot offer immediate solutions to current glocal problems, it helps to solve them in the medium and long term. Then, UNESCO has undertaken pioneering and foundational work in order to advance the understanding of GCED, provide intellectual guidance and technical support for its implementation.

One of the biggest challenges of GCED will be, in fact, the process of directing humanity towards new forms of cooperation and democratic social organization, which integrate the cultural diversity in an ecology of knowledge [Santos, 2014], and which develop just and sustainable relationships with the environment. For that reason, GCED is a central objective of UNESCO’s education programme, drawing on work in related areas such as peace and human rights education, education for sustainable development and others. But, how could we adopt new human productive systems that do not conflict with the limits of ecosystems to achieve a real sustainability? How could we create a GCED which respects the defining historical and cultural characteristics of each community, and at the same time address the post-2015 targets from a planetary-cosmic critical consciousness? Could the GCED be able to build transnational bridges interconnecting the nations and peoples of the world without falling into the cultural homogenization of humanity? Could the GCED overthrow the political walls of the Nation-States to open frontiers to an authentic and true global citizenship who can move freely without subdue our brothers and sisters from the South, who die every day trying to arrive to North countries?

Unfortunately, there is not a magic formula to answer these questions. The problem to create a GCED in the 21st century represents a paradigmatic civilizational challenge which is closely interlinked with the achievement of the SDG. In fact, this is the vision explicitly expressed by Ministers, heads of delegations, leading officials of multilateral and bilateral organizations, and senior representatives of civil society and private sector organizations; gathered at the invitation of the Director-General of UNESCO in Muscat, Oman, from 12-14 May 2014, for the Global Education for All (EFA) Meeting. In the “2014 GEM Final Statement” of the Muscat Agreement” [UNESCO, 2014a] the following articles can be read:

5.- We acknowledge that future education development priorities must reflect the significant socio-economic and demographic transformations that have occurred since the adoption of the EFA goals and the MDGs, and the changing requirements in the type and level of knowledge, skills and competencies for knowledge-based economies. Therefore, we recognize that there is a strong need for a new and forward-looking education agenda that completes unfinished business while going beyond the current goals in terms of depth and scope, as well as to provide people with the understanding, competencies and values they require to address the many challenges that our societies and economies are facing.

6.- We reaffirm that education is a fundamental human right for every person. It is an essential condition for human fulfilment, peace, sustainable development, economic growth, decent work, gender equality and responsible global citizenship. (...)

8.- (…) The post-2015 education agenda must be flexible enough to allow for diversity in governance structures. It must continue to promote sustainable development and active and effective global and local citizenship, contribute to strengthening democracy and peace, and foster respect for cultural and linguistic diversity.

14.- We further commit to using this Statement for ongoing national, regional and global consultations on the post-2015 education agenda, to be approved

at the World Education Forum 2015, which will be hosted by the Republic of Korea in May 2015. Our expectation is that this will be an integral part of the global development agenda to be adopted at the UN Summit in New York City in September 2015 [UNESCO, 2014a: p.2-4].
From all those commitments, addressing the concept of “global citizenship” in the future post-2015 educational agenda that WEF will adopt in September requires a new “reading the world” [Freire, 1992] through the indicators that EFA and MDG programs will provide us in their final reports. The complex challenge to build a global citizenship in the current era of information [Castells, 2000] is a problem that goes beyond the ontological essence of human race, implying a triple epistemological, political, and educational reform [Morin, 2011]. Thinking about the value and meaning of GCED in current globalized era requires studying the liquid life and humanity in movement [Bauman, 2007], and consequently, the understanding of GCED as a process in continuous expansion, change, and evolution. To do this, we must address the complexity, multidimensionality, and interdependence of global dynamics (economic, political, cultural, social, educational, etc.) from an eco-ethical vision that proposes creative alternatives to change the relations between human beings and nature. To make this “reading the world” that serves to restructure the future of humanity as a species on Earth transversely, it is illustrative to make a compilation synthesis identifying agreements, conventions, and international conferences most distinguished of the eco-politic-educational project that UNESCO and UN are outlining in the last 25 years along their international, national, regional, and local partners:

  • World Conference on Education for All in Jomtien (Thailand), 5-9 March 1990. With the mission to make primary education accessible for all children and reduce the illiteracy for the year 2000, delegates from 155 countries and representatives of 150 governmental and non-governmental organizations, adopted the “World Declaration on Education for All” (EFA), with special emphasis in the Framework for Action: Meeting Basic Learning Needs.

  • United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de

Janeiro (Brazil), 3-14 June 1992. Adopted by more than 178 Governments, “Rio Declaration” was most popular for its “Agenda 21”, because it contained “an action plan -at global, national, regional, and local levels- to establish a world alliance of environmental cooperation” [United Nations, 1992].

  • Barbados Programme of Action in the island of Barbados, 25 April — 6 May

1994. The conference reaffirmed the principles and commitments of sustainable development concretized in Agenda 21 and translated them into specific policies of action.

  • World Education Forum in Dakar (Senegal), 26-28 April 2000. In cooperation

with UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF, and World Bank, UNESCO coordinated more than 1,100 participants from governments (164 representatives), development agencies, civil society, and private sector to work together in achieving the EFA goals. Through the “Dakar Framework for Action” 6 regional targets were identified to meet them in 2015:

    1. Expanding and improving comprehensive early childhood care and

education, especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children.

    1. Ensuring that by 2015 all children, particularly girls, children in difficult circumstances and those belonging to ethnic minorities, have access to and complete free and compulsory primary education of good quality.

    2. Ensuring that the learning needs of all young people and adults are met through equitable access to appropriate learning and life skills programmes.

    3. Achieving a 50 per cent improvement in levels of adult literacy by 2015, especially for women, and equitable access to basic and continuing education for all adults.

    4. Improving every aspect of the quality of education, and ensuring their excellence so that recognized and measurable learning outcomes are achieved by all, especially in literacy, numeracy and essential life skills [UNESCO, 2000: pp. 15-17].

    5. Eliminating gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2005, and achieving gender equality in education by 2015, with a focus on ensuring girls’ full and equal access to and achievement in basic education of good quality.

  • United Nations Millennium Summit in New York (USA), 6-8 September 2000. Heads of State and Government of 189 Member countries of the UN General Assembly defined an historic commitment for the 21st century´s cooperation horizons. The Millennium Declaration would establish a global political framework with the major challenges that humanity is facing in the dawn of the third millennium. Recognizing the need to translate this commitment into action, the UN General Assembly approved the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2001: 1) Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. 2) Achieve universal primary education. 3) Promote gender equality and empower women.

4) Reduce child mortality. 5) Improve maternal health. 6) Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases. 7) Ensure environmental sustainability. 8) Promote global partnerships for development.

  • World Summit on Sustainable Development of Johannesburg (South Africa),

August 26 to September 4, 2002. With more than 21,000 participants, including

104 Heads of State and Governments, national delegates, NGOs leaders, business and other major groups, the ecologist´s discussion was focused on raising sustainable development awareness.

  • Mauritius Strategy of Implementation (MSI) in Port-Louis (Mauritius Islands), 10-14 January 2005. The result of the Mauritius Meeting was the adoption of the “Mauritius Strategy”, where new priorities of strategic action were established around 19 areas derived from the 14 thematic of Barbados Programmer of Action.

  • United Nations Economic Commission for Europe in Vilnius (Lithuania), 17- 18 March 2005. Member States adopted the UNECE Strategy on ESD in order to promote ESD in the region. The Strategy was a practical instrument to incorporate key themes of sustainable development into the region’s education systems.

  • The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), 20-22 June 2012. In “Rio+20”, the Member States would launch the document “The Future We Want” to develop a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which would be based on the Millennium Development Goals and would converge with the post-2015 Development Agenda. In this occasion, my proposal “the value of global education as engine of change to poverty eradication and to achieve a sustainable development2 would be the most voted upon the civil society around all the world.

  • UNESCO World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development in Bonn (Germany), 31 March — 2 April 2009. The conference was organized by UNESCO and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, in collaboration with the German Commission for UNESCO. With more than 150 countries attending the conference, the “Bonn Declaration” would make an evaluation of achievements done during the first half of the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). Participants shared best practices in the field and developed mechanisms to enhance cooperation in the implementation of the UN Decade, especially focused in the dialogues and cooperation North- South and South-South.

  • Global Education First Initiative (GEFI). The Secretary-General of the United Nations would launch GEFI in September 2012 to accelerate the progress towards EFA and education-related MDGs goals. The initiative had three priority areas: 1) put every child in school, 2) improve the quality of learning, 3) foster global citizenship.

  • Technical Consultation on Education for Global Citizenship (GCED) in Seoul (Republic of Korea), 9-10 September 2013. Organized by UNESCO and the Republic of Korea (i.e. Ministries of Foreign Affairs and of Education, and the Asia-Pacific Centre of Education for International Understanding -APCEIU-). The meeting was focused on identifying habilitation requirements to offer education for global citizenship at the national and global level.

  • 1st UNESCO Forum “Global Citizenship Education: preparing learners for the challenge of the twenty-first Century” in Bangkok (Thailand), 2-4 December 2013. Jointly organized by Division of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development of HQ, UNESCO Office in Bangkok — Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education, Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEP) and Asia-Pacific Centre of Education for International Understanding (APCEIU). As result of technical discussions on GCED, UNESCO [UNESCO, 2013] would issue the document “Global Citizenship Education: An Emerging Perspective”, which presented common perspectives emerging from the consultation on the following three questions:

1) Why global citizenship and global citizenship education now? 2) What is global citizenship education? 3) What needs to be done at the global level to support and promote global citizenship education? [UNESCO, 2013]: 1).

2 To know more about the proposal on global education at Rio+20, check the following link:


  • Global Education for All (EPT) Meeting in Muscat (Oman), 12-14 May 2014. In the Muscat Agreement would be specified with the ambit of post-2015 educational agenda:

7.- The post-2015 education agenda should be clearly defined, aspirational, transformative, balanced and holistic, and an integral part of the broader international development framework. It should be of universal relevance and mobilize all stakeholders in all countries. Education must be a stand- alone goal in the broader post-2015 development agenda and should be framed by a comprehensive overarching goal, with measurable global targets and related indicators. In addition, education must be integrated into other development goals [UNESCO, 2014a]: 2).

  • UNESCO World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in Aichi-Nagoya (Japan), 10-12 November 2014. The “Aichi-Nagoya Declaration on EDS” would serve to demand the urgent need to expand and strengthen the EDS to enable current generations to meet their needs while allowing future generations to meet their own:

We, the participants, EMPHASISE the potential of ESD to empower learners to transform themselves and the society they live in by developing knowledge, skills, attitudes, competences and values required for addressing global citizenship and local contextual challenges of the present and the future, such as critical and systemic thinking, analytical problem- solving, creativity, working collaboratively and making decisions in the face of uncertainty, and understanding of the interconnectedness of global challenges and responsibilities emanating from such awareness [UNESCO, 2014b]: 2).

  • Second UNESCO Forum on Global Citizenship Education (GCED) — Building Peaceful and Sustainable Societies: Preparing for post-2015 in Paris (France), 28-30 January 2015. Organized by UNESCO Headquarter, included 150 participants from Permanent Delegations to UNESCO, GCED experts, teachers and education practitioners, research institutions and universities, the private sector, media, policy makers, UN agencies, civil society organizations, youth representatives, and other development partners. The Second Forum took place at a very strategic time, right after the UNESCO regional consultations on EFA and post-2015 and before the World Education Forum (WEF) in May 2015 in Incheon (Republic of Korea) where new educational targets will provide inputs to the Framework for Action on Education post-2015.

This short analysis covers the most important events that United Nations and UNESCO have developed over the last 25 years, where they have harbored the common perspective to change the direction of world-society toward new sustainable development horizons, present and future. This is a persistent common perspective in the global policy framework that will seek the convergence of specific educational goals for the future during this year 2015. In this sense, the GCED is the continuation of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014),

hence our proposal integrates a transdisciplinary methodology to understand the multidimensionality of the human condition/identity, and biomimicry as a symbiosis between ecosystems and human systems (and more specifically between sustainability and education). As the WEF will be the precursor for educational proposals of the UN High-Level Summit of September in New York, one could say that the challenge of achieving the SDGs represents an open opportunity for the emergence of transcultural and transnational education in harmony with the environment, in order that new generations “co-evolve as global citizens on the planet”. People need to feel like citizens of the world from a perspective of common humanity in the Homeland- Earth [Morin and Kern, 1993], because the problems of our time (and their future consequences) can never be understood in an isolated manner through a Cartesian epistemological approach, which separates and reduces phenomena within the context of national boundaries and monodisciplinarity. By contrast, future post-2015 educational goals should promote the notion of education as a universal, complex, dynamic, transdisciplinary, multidimentional, and multi-referential phenomenon changing and evolving constantly. In other words, GCED must think in the future human imagine developing a planetary-cosmic personality [Bazaluk, 2014] and a cosmodern consciousness [Nicolescu, 2014] which understand the human freedom and dignity in its earthly, physical, and cosmic condition [Morin, 1999], without falling in cultural homogenization. For this reason our proposal aims to integrate an educational worldview where a transdisciplinary methodology and biomimetic approach make up the DNA of a new transcultural tool that serves to support the GCED proposed by UNESCO.

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