On the 31st of October, the Global South-South Development Expo 2013 took place at the UN Complex, Gidiri, Nairobi. The Global South-South Development (GSSD) Expo was a United Nations system-wide global event which brought together nearly 1,000 participants, and mobilized close to US$400 Million. The Academia Partnership Forum (APF), one of 15 such fora, was hosted by UNEP’s Environmental Education and Training Unit (EETU). This years’ Academia Partnership Forum was attended by over 70 representatives from academia, policy makers, civil society, and international organizations. In it, Elizabeth Mrema, Officer in Charge of UNEP’s Division of Environmental Policy Implementation (DEPI), welcomed participants and emphasized the role of education as a transformative agent in sustainable development. She stressed UNEP’s enhanced engagement with Universities through the Global Universities Partnership on Environment and Sustainability (GUPES) through education, training and networking.
In session 4 of the agenda of the event, Heila Lotz-Sisitka, Murray & Roberts Chair, Professor on Environmental Education and Sustainability, Rhodes University, South Africa, gave an overview on Mainstreaming Environment and Sustainability in African Universities (MESA) through South-South Dialogue. She emphasized the need to make education more context and community relevant, development of ‘green economies’ and sustainable solutions and as ways of addressing social issues and alleviate poverty, and referred to the African Environmental Education and Training Action Plan being drafted.
Details about the other sessions of the event are as follows:
Session 1: REDD+ Curriculum Sourcebook - Julie Greenwalt, UN REDD Programme highlighted the need to engage academia on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+). She referred to the REDD+ Academy and the Curriculum Sourcebook on REDD+ which was being finalized with support from Yale University.
Session 2: Capacity Development for Climate Change (C3D+) - Angus Mackay, from United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) reiterated the need to strengthen capacities of countries and institutions to address climate change through developing adaptation measures, share ideas and plan mitigation strategies, through innovative tools such as CRiSTAL.
Session 3: Sustainability indicators for universities - Patricia Silva Leme, Sao Paulo University, Brazil and Javier Benayas, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain provided an overview on sustainability assessment status of Latin American Universities. By prioritizing indicators which are easy to collect and/or calculate (carbon emissions, greening practices, curriculum development and implementation), there has been an 82% increase in lower carbon emissions (2007-10) and 53% increase sustainable practices (2007-10) within university facilities.
Session 4: Round table on South-South Cooperation in Higher Education for Sustainability.
• Peter Blaze Corcoran, Wangari Mathaai Institute, University of Nairobi and Florida Gulf Coast University, United States, emphasized the need to enhance South-South Cooperation in Higher Education Institutions as an avenue of enhancing capacity, fostering peace, sharing experiences in holistic SD and linking theory with practice;
• Peter Odhengo, Kenya Green Initiative (KGI) and Nickson Otieno, gave an overview of the Kenya Green University Network, which seeks also to build capacity of university students to green universities and communities around them;
• Fatima Arib, Cadi Ayyad University, Marrakesh acknowledged the need for low carbon campuses; greening campus curriculum and implementation; and developing targeted training programmes for policy makers;
• Tatiana Shakirova, Central Asia Regional Environmental Centre (CAREC), Kazakhstan, highlighted South-South experiences thought the annual Central Asia Leadership Programme on Environment for Sustainable Development;
• Fengting Li, IESD, Tongji University, China emphasized China’s commitment in promoting South-South Cooperation in sustainable development. He highlighted the Asia Pacific Leadership Programme (APLP) and the Advanced International Training Programme (ITP-Asia) on Education for Sustainable Development in Higher Education programs.
In conclusion, Zhou Zuyi, Chancellor of Tongji University reiterated China’s commitment to South-South and Cooperation, and elaborated on the sustainability oriented university concept. He recognized UNEP’s EETU’s contribution to the South-South and Triangular Cooperation. Mahesh Pradhan, Chief, Environmental Education and Training Unit (UNEP), concluded by highlighting the role of higher education in promoting South-South partnership through solutions and partnerships.