UNESCO Chair Newsletter June 2023

Dear Colleagues, Network Partners, and Friends,

Greetings from Toronto and Happy World Environment Day! 5 June 1972 was the first day of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Development and has been marked to celebrate the environment since then. While we often make the point for the equal importance of all three dimensions of sustainability – environmental, social, and economic -, we acknowledge the importance of a worldwide awareness and action for the planet.

Yet too often our action does not reflect our better knowledge. To turn our conscience into action, social-emotional learning is deemed important. To contemplate on the role of spirituality in cultivating the necessary empathy to act for other people and the planet, we are invited to speak at the Spirituality & Sustainability Conference 2023 in Assisi (Italy). We look forward to exploring the potential of building global compassion for transformative action through engaging with leaders from different ethical and spiritual traditions.

The month of June will once more offer a variety of opportunities to engage with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and especially with Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). Learn more about sustainable development and quality education, attend open events and share your insight. Be part of a global community thriving towards sustainability!


Charles Hopkins & Katrin Kohl

UNESCO Chair in Reorienting Education towards Sustainability, York University

Let's start with good news from York University

York University in the Top 40 in Times Higher Education Impact Rankings

York University continues to stand out as a global leader in building a more just and sustainable future by driving positive change through the shared vision and actions of its faculty, course directors, staff, students, alumni and community partners. With 100+ additional universities joining the rankings this year, York has done exceedingly well, placing 40th out of more than 1,500 competing institutions.

York University launches new Decolonizing, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy 2023-2028

York University has recently launched their first university-wide Decolonizing, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (DEDI) Strategy 2023-2028 following a broad community consultation. York is among the first of Canadian universities to incorporate decolonization in a meaningful and substantial way through a document of this kind. This strategy will formalize and coordinate DEDI efforts across the institution. 

Canadian Together | Ensemble Conference 2023 in a hybrid format on 7-9 June

Register now to attend Together | Ensemble 2023, the annual conference for Canada’s SDG Community on 7-9 June 2023. The world is at the halfway point towards implementing the SDGs but “moderately to severely off track”. Higher education, science and research institutions are crucial for the success of the SDGs and must come together to find ways to accelerate progress towards a more just and sustainable Canada. 

York University’s SDGs in the Classroom Curricular Innovation Hub is set to present their strategies in a side event on 9 June 2023 at 10 am EST to explore the development, structure, and different facets of curriculum development.

Register to attend

ANGEL's biennial international conference to be held at UNESCO on 19/20 June

The Academic Network on Global Education & Learning (ANGEL) will hold the ANGEL 2023 Conference at UNESCO on 19/20 June 2023. The event will bring together academics, researchers, policymakers and practitioners with an interest in global education and learning, ESD, and global citizenship education.

Charles Hopkins and Katrin Kohl are set to speak in a session on global partnerships to accelerate action for the SDGs, organized by the International Association of Universities (IAU) with Isabel Toman (IAU), Beate Baldwin (ISIT) and Maximilian Spiegelberg (Heidelberg University of Education). The session will be moderated by IAU’s Secretary-General Hilligje van’t Land.

Charles will also moderate a session on climate change communication and education country profiles with Aaron Benavot (MECCE Project) and Anna Christina d’Addio (UNESCO GEM Report).

Register to attend online

IAU Horizons addresses the future of internationalization in a changing world

The world is in a continuous state of change, but recently transformations are happening at the geopolitical, economic and social levels that have a substantial impact on the internationalization of higher education. This new issue of IAU Horizons is dedicated to the theme The Future of Internationalization in a Changing World. Authors from all regions of the world, representing different institutions and organizations, share their insights on the internationalization of higher education given ongoing global transformations. This edition of IAU Horizons also presents key outcomes from the IAU 16th General Conference.

Katrin Kohl and Charles Hopkins have contributed an article on the Sustainable on the Go Initiative, focusing on the question of ecological footprints in student and faculty mobility versus the potential of positive handprints arising from international engagement now and in the future.

Call for papers: special issue on interdisciplinary approaches to ESD

The Nordic Journal of Comparative and International Education (NJCIE) has announced a Call for Papers for a special issue on Interdisciplinary Approaches to Education for Sustainable Development.

Guest editors: Robert J. Didham (Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences), Hiroki Fujii (Okayama University, Japan), and Gregor Torkar (University of Ljubljana, Slovenia).

The deadline for submission of complete manuscripts is 15 October 2023. Details of the call are available here

This special issue aims to explore the transformative potential that multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches to ESD can achieve and how they can be effectively implemented. The goal of the special issue is to collect and share new research and innovations in the emerging field of interdisciplinary approaches to education for sustainable development.

Apply to participate in a 9-month SDG training in Hamburg (Germany)

9 months – 13 scholarships – 17 SDGs

The International Sustainability Academy (ISA) is a 9-month training program, hosted by the Schutzgemeinschaft Deutscher Wald (German Protective Association for Forests in Germany) for 13 young professionals to come together in Hamburg (Germany) and to find solutions for the most significant challenges of the planet. Fellows study, create partnerships, and aim to implement action/projects towards the SDGs in their country of origin. The training creates a link between the local and international level and leads to knowledge exchange.

If you are a young professional, live in a developing country and wish to implement a sustainability-oriented project, apply by 15 June 2023.

New webinar series on youth leadership and innovation for sustainable development: transforming education at the university level on 12 June

This new webinar series on youth leadership and innovation for sustainable development is titled “Fostering Youth-Led Innovation for the SDGs” and delivered jointly by Entrepreneurship and Environment at the University of Waterloo (Canada) and the Centre for Sustainable Development at Columbia University (United States). The series will run between June and September 2023 with their premiere session on 12 June 2023.

Six webinars, led by experts in the field, will focus on sustainability curriculum development, youth innovation and leadership skills development, and ethics in action, among other themes relating to ESD, the SDGs, and youth leadership.

UNESCO-UNFCCC webinar on 20 June: What does a climate-proof and climate-ready school look like?

The UNESCO-UNFCCC webinar series is now in full swing and ready to repeat the success of 2022 that brought together more than 15,000 participants from 184 countries and focused on greening every education policy and curriculum. On 20 June 2023, the second webinar will reflect on how to transform learning environments to ensure that facilities and operations embody sustainability principles in response to climate change. The conversation will also explore how school governance and culture become inclusive and participatory.

The following webinars will take place on 25 July, 12 September, and 31 October 2023.

University Global Coalition's annual gathering: express your interest by 10 July

The University Global Coalition (UGC) will hold their annual gathering on 2-6 October 2023. This year, in furthering plans and actions from universities around the world to support the 17 SDGs, UGC will utilize the 17 Rooms process developed by the Brookings Institution and The Rockefeller Foundation. If you wish to join one of the working groups in September-October 2023, please fill out an expression of interest by 10 July 2023.

Within the working groups, participants will determine tangible action or outcomes of their collaboration to be accomplished for the next SDG Action & Awareness Week on 4-8 March 2024.

Register now for the HESI Global Forum on 17 July

The HESI 2023 Global Forum, organized by the Higher Education Sustainability Initiative (HESI) is a special event at the United Nations High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). On 17 July 2023, this year’s dialogue will place a particular focus on understanding the challenges and opportunities to accelerate the recovery from COVID-19 and the full implementation of the SDGs. The HESI Global Forum will take in a hybrid format.

Register for the IAU 2023 International Conference on 25-27 November

Join the IAU 2023 International Conference in Doha, Qatar. Universities provide an excellent environment to foster intercultural learning and competences to embrace diversity, treasure differences, and develop perspectives necessary for graduates to thrive in a globalized world. The IAU 2023 International Conference will explore how universities around the world promote and support intercultural learning and dialogue. 

Last but not least: UNESCO welcomes declaration of G7 Education Ministers

UNESCO has welcomed a Declaration of the G7 Education Ministers, adopted during their meeting in Japan from 12-15 May 2023. The declaration includes commitments to lifelong learning, transformative action in areas such as greening education, as well as inclusive education for all learners, and opportunities to pursue their well-being. It also recognizes that recent development of digital technologies, including generative artificial intelligence, provides learning and teaching opportunities while posing challenges to educational systems.