UNESCO, IAU and SDSN co-organize a joint UNESCO WHEC2022 panel discussion with experts from
around the world to reflect where higher education for Sustainable Development (HESD) can and
must go and how to develop renewed synergies for a sustainable way forward.
2022 is a critical year, a year challenged by an increased number of global and local challenges. It is
thus a crucial year for education at all levels, from primary to lifelong learning, through higher
education. Universities are the key to healthier, greener, fairer, and more inclusive societies. Are
universities ready to assume their full responsibility?
The 2030 Agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) offer a framework for all levels
of education, with particular relevance for Higher Education. The session will debate how a whole-
institution approach (WIA) and a whole-sector approach (WSA) to reach a more sustainable future
are crucial to accelerate the fundamental transformative processes that are needed. All actors in
education and in society at large need to be involved, from leadership to students. Leaving No One
Behind is not only set in SDG 4, but crucial for the achievement of all SDGs. A holistic approach to
teaching and learning, research and community engagement is required to trigger true
transformation at local, national, regional, and global level.
This session builds bridges between the Berlin UNESCO World Conference on ESD in May 2021, the
WHEC 2022 and will inform the UN Transforming Education Summit to take place in September
Structure of the session
Pam Fredman, IAU President (in-person, confirmed), Patrick Paul Walsh, SDSN Vice President of
Education and Director of the SDG Academy. (pre-recorded, confirmed)
● Stephen Sterling, Emeritus Professor of Sustainability Education at the Centre for
Sustainable Futures, University of Plymouth, UK (online, confirmed)
• Jun Morohashi, Acting Chief of Section of Education for Sustainable Development,
UNESCO HQ (pre-recorded, confirmed)
• Pornchai Mongkhonvanit, President Siam University in Thailand, IAU Vice
President and Chair HESD (in-person, confirmed)
• Sebastian Berger, head of the Global Student Forum (on site), and Sherine
Omondi, elected member of the Global Student Forum Steering Committee, representing the
voice of the Commonwealth Students Association, Kenya (video message)
• Charles Hopkins, UNESCO Chair in Reorienting Education Toward Sustainability,
York University, Canada, and IAU SDG 4 Cluster Lead (in-person, confirmed)
• Joanna Newman, Secretary-General, Association of Commonwealth Universities (in
To frame the discussions the following questions will be debated:
● What structural changes or innovations are currently being made or can be made at higher
education institutions for ESD in support of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs?
● How can a Whole-Institution approach or Whole-Sector approach be applied effectively?
● What challenges and barriers to ESD are to be addressed moving forward? What new
● How can governments, international organisations and associations support practitioners
and leaders in higher education institutions in their efforts for ESD?
Moderation: Hilligje van’t Land, Secretary General, International Association of Universities (IAU)
As lead UN agency on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), UNESCO and its partners are
implementing the ‘ESD for 2030’ framework to mobilize education to address the SDGs and provide
everyone with the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes to generate transformative change for
sustainable development. UNESCO will launch an ESD for 2030 Network in 2022: it will closely
connect to the GAP Programme (2015 – 2019) and the ESD for 2030 Roadmap, while taking on board
the recommendations of the UNESCO World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development
Declaration (adopted in Berlin, in May 2021). ESD is receiving increased attention, not only by
governments; this is linked to the overall efforts of enhanced quality of all levels of education.
Formal and non-formal education combined play a key role to shape the future. It includes a
transformation process with youth who will in turn transform society. A new social contract to
better meet the needs and expectations of future generations is called for. Unesco is currently in
the process of revising the 1974 Recommendation concerning education for international
understanding, cooperation and peace.
The International Association of Universities (IAU), the global voice of higher education with
associate partner status to UNESCO, advocates for universities to step up their action and
engagement with the global goals set as part of the IAU HESD thematic priority. Higher education
institutions are key actors in society and key stakeholders to generate the much needed
transformation the global challenges call for.
The UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) was launched in 2012 under the
auspices of the UN Secretary-General to mobilize the world’s academic and research community to
support the implementation of the SDGs and the Paris Agreement through education, research,
policy analysis, and global cooperation.
In 2020, SDSN launched the global initiative Mission 4.7 in partnership with UNESCO, the Ban Ki-
moon Centre for Global Citizens, and the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia
University. Mission 4.7 brings together leaders from government, academia, civil society, including
the IAU and ACU, and business to accelerate the implementation of Transformative Education for
Sustainable Development around the world and highlight the critical importance of education in
achieving the SDGs.