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Rhodes joins PERL

Date Released: Mon, 28 March 2011 09:49 +0200

One message Professor Roddy Fox from the Geography Department brought back from the Partnership for Education and Research about Responsible Living (PERL) annual conference held in Istanbul recently was “Provide input to the UN High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability.”

Rhodes is one of the newest PERL associates, joining 10 other African higher education, research and civil society bodies at the inaugural Africa Regional network meeting held in Mbabane last November.

Africa is the last region to initiate a network following on from those established in Latin America and the Asia/Pacific. The bulk of the partners are located in the European Union who, along with United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and the International Marrakech Process Task Forces on Sustainable Lifestyles and Education for Sustainable Consumption, has funded PERL over the past two years. PERL consists of over 120 institutions worldwide.

Prof Fox noted, “In my experience the diversity of interest groups makes their conferences and regional group unique with representatives from universities, research institutes, civil society, businesses and policy makers.

“I was at the annual conference in Istanbul last week ‘Enabling Responsible Living’ and found myself sitting between an EU Commissioner and a Secretary of State listening to a presentation on how school children can learn about alternative lifestyles.

“The panel discussion which followed then moved the focus to being shown how and why PERL partner organisations should participate in the Rio+20 Sustainability Summit next year.”

Prof Fox felt that he was in the unenviable position of being the only representative from the Africa Region at the conference and workgroup meetings and initially felt a little swamped by the 150 or so delegates from around the world.

Prof Fox continued, “The conference began with a moving description of the situation in Japan presented by delegates who had left the day after the earthquake and tsunami. Thereafter plenary papers, including my own on Simulating African Scenarios and others on topics ranging from Enabling Healthy and Responsible Living to Action Learning, Social Innovation and Sustainable Consumption.

“Panel discussions were then interspersed between the two parallel tracks of Partnerships for Responsible Living, Research and Education for Responsible Living.”

The next Africa regional meeting is planned for Arusha in July this year and in a South-South initiative they have already set up a meeting in Santiago, Chile with their Latin American counterparts in November.