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Culturelink review, no.36/April 2002 - contents - imprint - archive

Enhancing Global Sustainability

Position Paper and Proposals by UNESCO for the World Summit on Sustainable Development

At its web site, UNESCO has published a document presenting its contributions and proposals to be included in the Johannesburg agenda and discussed at the World Summit on Sustainable Development, to be held 26 August - 4 September 2002. In past years, even decades, UNESCO has actively contributed to the elaboration and articulation of an integrated vision of sustainable development centred on the human being and based on the respect for human rights and democratic principles, solidarity, dignity, sharing and equity.

The six strategic themes and action proposals that have been highlighted in this document, reflect UNESCO's multi-sectoral mandate and its interdisciplinary expertise. UNESCO has designated the fight against poverty, especially in Africa and Least Developed Countries, as one of two priorities for the next six years.

The first theme is Educating for Sustainability, which implies providing the learners with the skills, perspectives, values and knowledge to live sustainability in their communities. An integrated vision of education that encompasses both formal and non-formal education as well as alternative delivery systems to reach the unreached is one of the pillars on which UNESCO builds its' strategies for future action.

Theme II entitled Promoting and Applying Science for Sustainable Development: Science Policies and Capacity-Building focuses on the role of science. UNESCO proposes several actions to be taken by the World Summit on Sustainable Development in the field of science, including, among others, the promotion of interdisciplinary approaches to sustainable development, the development of capacity-building programmes, and the promotion of programmes with respect for biodiversity conservation, geosciences and geo-ecology, land resources management etc.

Theme III entitled Developing Ethical Principles and Guidelines for Sustainable Development calls for a need to build international consensus on newly required norms and principles to respond to emerging ethical challenges and dilemmas as a result of globalisation.

Theme IV proposes action to Sustain the World's Freshwater and Marine Resources and their Supporting Ecosystems.

Theme V calls for Ensuring Sustainable Development Through Cultural Diversity. It quotes the recently adopted Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity that provides a new anchor and entry point for approaching the issue of sustainability from the viewpoint of cultural diversity. It assumes the existence of a process of exchange, open to renewal and innovation but also committed to tradition, and does not aim at the preservation of a static set of behaviours, values and expressions. In this section of the document, UNESCO proposes to governments and other actors to endorse the UNESCO Declaration on Cultural Diversity as a basic document for sustainable development and, based thereon, to promote diversity solutions and approaches in pursuit of sustainable development through the consideration of culture as a full-fledged resource for development.

The last theme presented in UNESCO's Position Paper is Contributing to Sustainable Development through the Media and Information and Communication Technologies. UNESCO proposes to foster freedom of expression and take up measures to bridge the digital divide, which presently excludes entire groups and countries from the potential benefits of digital opportunities in networked knowledge societies and their impact for sustainable development.

To read the entire document, please check UNESCO's web site at http://www.unesco.org

For more information about the World Summit on Sustainable Development please visit the official web site at: http://www.johannesburgsummit.org