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UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development

GDRC and the Key Themes of UN-DESD

Note: Information presented in this page was current as of . Pages will be updated throughout the UN-DESD, as new GDRC project activities are initiated and launched.
n underlying theme that cuts across all of GDRC's programmes and spheres of activities is the goals of sustainable development. It also has a separate and distinct programme on sustainable development, focusing on a number of interlinked themes.

GDRC on Envi. Education

So it is opportune that the UN has declared the decade of 2005-2015 as the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (UN-DESD). GDRC endorses this declaration, and has sought to actively engage with its partners and networks to highlight the criticality of the decade's message.

The themes covered by the UN-DESD lie at the core of GDRC's programme activities, both ongoing and planned for 2008-2010: overcoming poverty, gender equality, health promotion, environmental conservation and protection, rural transformation, human rights, cultural diversity and intercultural, understanding and peace, sustainable production and consumption, information and communication technologies et al.

  • Overcoming Poverty: Poverty is a condition that is caused by a number of direct and indirect factors. Poverty alleviation itself can be approached from different angles, covering job creation, skills development, finance, etc. These issues are covered in three of GDRC's programmes – Sustainable Development, Informal Economic Sector, and the Virtual Library on Microcredit.

  • Gender Equality: Much emphasis has been placed on the criticality of incorporating gender issues in any developmental policy, programme or project. But this has not been easy and a number of barriers exist. These issues are discussed in GDRC's programme on Gender and Development.

  • Health Promotion and HIV/AIDS: Good health, at the individual, community and city levels have a number of cause-effect relationships with other developmental issues. Epidemics such as HIV/AIDS have significant long term impacts, particularly on the economies of developing countries. These issues are not currently covered by any GDRC programme, but will soon be launched from within two programmes - Sustainable Development (HIV/AIDS) and Urban Environmental Management (Health Security).

  • Environment: Environment is a very broad topic covering almost every aspect of our daily lives. GDRC focuses on urban environments as a starting point for managing the environment, in terms of the urban lifestyles and consumption patterns that cumulatively impact the global environment as a whole. The GDRC programmes on Sustainable Development, Environmental Decision-Making and Urban Environmental Management cover these multidimentional aspects in depth.

  • Water: Availability of fresh potable water, and treatment of waste water are critical themes emphasized in a number of global fora, including the Third World Water Forum, 2003. It impacts the well-being of all humans, but has been a misunderstood and mismanaged natural resource. Water management is covered in GDRC's programme on Urban Environmental Management.

  • Rural Transformation: Rural transformation entails a myriad of measures, involving legislative, institutional, political, economic, measures that seek to improve the quality of life of rural people. This has to be informed by a concrete appreciation of class, gender, environmental and other related questions that foster positive rural transformation. These issues are indirectly covered in a number of GDRC programmes such as Technology Transfer, Informal Economic Sector and the Virtual Library on Microcredit. More concrete activities are planned for 2004-2006.

  • Sustainable Consumption: As a part of the process of demand management, it is critical to understand the forces that drive consumption patterns of individuals, households and cities as a whole. This needs to be translated into tangible activities that make sound business sense to pursue. The GDRC Programme on Urban Environmental Management covers these and related issues.

  • Sustainable Tourism: Sustainable tourism approaches attempt to make a low impact on the environment and local culture, while helping to generate income, employment, and the conservation of local ecosystems. It is responsible tourism which is both ecologically and culturally sensitive. The GDRC Programme on Urban Environmental Management launched the Sustainable Tourism Gateway in on the World Torusim Day on 27 September 2008.

  • Human Rights: Ensuring human rights of all is a critical starting point for a fair, just and equitable society. The concept of human _security_ subsumes this, and emphasizes safeguarding and expanding people's vital freedoms - protecting people from critical and pervasive threats, and empowering people to take charge of their own lives. These issues are covered in GDRC's programmes on NGOs and the Civil Society (Human Rights) and Sustainable Development (Human Security)

  • Intercultural Understanding: The focus of intercultural understanding is the celebration of diversity. The aim is to enerate awareness and dialogue on the different ways that people experience and organize their lives - affirming the contributions of all cultures to the collective human wisdom. This is a theme that is being explored within the GDRC programme on Heritage Conservation and Management.

  • Cultural Diversity: Cultural diversity should be looked as a collective strength, emphasizing the variety of values, ethics, and knowledge that will help in dealing with the myriad range of problems that we currently face. This is a critical theme covered by GDRC's programme on Urban Hertiage and Conservation.

  • Indigenous knowledge: People have an intimate knowledge of many aspects of their surroundings and their daily lives. Indigenous knowledge is developed over time, and is based on experience; often tested over centuries of use; adapted to local culture and environment and is dynamic and changing. At present, this theme is not covered by any of GDRC's programmes, but will be taken up by the Knowledge Management programme.

  • Media and ICTs: The delivery of timely and packaged information at the right level to the right users has considerable externalities for a variety of purposes - in facilitating informed decision-making or in reducing unequal access to resources. The three programmes under GDRC's Information Sphere (Knowledge Management, Information Design, and Information and Communication Technologies or ICTs) take up these and related issues in greater depth. "working with the Mdeia" is also a feature of the NGO Cafe.

Contributions to this section are welcome! Please send an email to Hari Srinivas at -

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