Sowing the seeds for sustainability
Charles Hopkins -Photo by AV Services

Sustainability is one of the priorities in the University's draft strategic plan, and a recent forum was a timely reinforcement of the need for education to focus on sustainable development.

In April 2009 the UNESCO World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development issued a call to action, through the Bonn Declaration, to continue the United Nations' decade-long initiative to educate people about sustainable development. On June 11, Charles Hopkins, who helped draft the Declaration, explained the significance of it during a two-hour forum at the U of R.

"It is an empowering document that requires, not funding, but a moral commitment," said Hopkins, who is the United Nations University Chair for Education for Sustainable Development at York University in Toronto. Hopkins has been traveling extensively to help "prepare the soil and plant the seeds" in some of the 150 countries represented at the Bonn conference. He hopes Canada will endorse the Declaration by the end of 2009.

UNESCO encourages the formation of regional centres of expertise to foster initiatives that formally and informally educate people about sustainable development. The U of R forum was organized by the Saskatchewan Regional Centre of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development (RCE-ESD), which was established in 2007. It encompasses the highway corridor between Regina and Saskatoon, and includes both universities, school divisions, SIAST, provincial government ministries, community colleges, an expanding list of community organizations and the Sustainable Living Project at Craik.

University instructors, researchers and administrators from various disciplines, along with representatives from many of the member agencies and organizations in the Saskatchewan RCE-ESD attended the forum. Before the presentation began, President Vianne Timmons noted that sustainability is one of the priorities in the University's new Strategic Plan, to be presented to the Board of Governors for final approval in mid-July.

"Because it received 100 percent endorsement from Executive of Council and the University Senate, I expect the Board of Governors will approve the plan," Timmons said. "That means sustainability will infuse everything we do, from curriculum development to policy-making and the design and construction of new buildings. It will mean a realignment of our priorities, and a greater emphasis on education for sustainable development."

For more on the Bonn Declaration go to:

For Saskatchewan RCE-ESD:

For U of R Strategic Plan: