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Education for sustainable development (ESD) – do we really need it?

Several issues threaten the sustainability of our planet:

  1. Global warming and  are rapidly becoming the big issues of our time. – Transformative education, innovations, ingenuity, creativity, energy efficiency, massive public and private investments in “green” technologies and new, more responsible attitudes are some of the answers to the challenges || ||  || (NYT Nov 2014) ||    ||   ||  |   ||    ||   ||    ||   (IEA Nov 2015) | ||    ||    ||   (2016) ||   ||  ||   ||    ||  (US) ||   ||     ||   || (CDKN)  ||    || National Academies:  ||    ||    (Scripps, March 2014)  ||    ||  ||   (May 2014)  || ||  (WMO 2014)  ||   ||    || ||  ||   ||   || |  

    maldive island

    Maldive islands – vulnerable to rising seas. Photo: Å. Bjørke

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  2. Biological diversity:  the Earth’s biological resources – the incredibly complex pool of genes giving the biosphere its abundance of species and almost endless variations of life – is under severe threat. There are more species being extinguished per year now than 6o million years ago when the dinosaurs disappeared. How do we halt the destruction of species? How do we secure the diversity of the genetic pool of the biosphere?  | (Nature 2014)   |    |     |   |   (TED)  |   |     |    |    |    |  |   |    |     |    | |   |  |    |    | |  |
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    Wildlife at Sigiriya, Sri lanka. Photo:Å. Bjørke

    Wildlife at Sigiriya, Sri lanka. Photo:Å. Bjørke

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  3. Forests  are important for the global climate, for our common future and for hundreds of millions of people who live there. The rainforest is one of the world’s oldest ecosystems, over 60 million years. Rainforests existed when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, and the continents gathered in Gondwanaland. The genetic pool of the lifeforms in the world’s forests are to a large extent unmapped. Forests give vital ecosystem services, prevent erosion, hold and rinse freshwater, produce oxygen, food and give shelter to animals and humans.   |     |    |   (GRID-A) | |   |   (Guardian)  |
    West Mau rain forest, Kenya

    West Mau rain forest, Kenya (Photo: Å. Bjørke)

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  4.  is the basis for life. More droughts, increasing depletion of groundwater sources and more severe floods are serious threats to life several places on Earth. How do we preserve and manage water more efficiently? How do we clean polluted water in better ways?    |     |    (NG) |  |     |   |     |     |      |       |      |     |    |     |     |   |   |     |    |    |     |    |     |    |   |      |      |     |    |  |     |     |   | |   | |    |  |   |   (Oct 2014)  |   (Nov 2014) |  | | | | |   || || (GRID-A)  ||   ||   (UNUINWEH 2015) || (May 2015) || ||  ||   (BBC, Oct 2015) ||
    The White Nile starts here, at Jinja, Uganda. Lake Victoria throws itself into the river. What happens to the flow of the Nile with climate change, more irrigation on the shores of the lake, and more dams along the river?

    The White Nile starts here, at Jinja, Uganda. Lake Victoria throws itself into the river. What happens to the flow of the Nile with climate change, more irrigation on the shores of the lake, and more dams along the river?

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  5. Natural resources may be perceived as endless and eternal. They are not. We quickly approach ““, ““, “” etc. How do we handle a resource crisis – if just the richest can afford buying the resources we all need?   |   |    |     |
    Can some natural resources run out?

    Can some natural resources run out? Charcoal, Uganda. Photo: Å. Bjørke

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  6. Waste  – Our current economic system produces enormous amounts of waste. The biggest human “constructions” ever are our garbage dumps. How do we reduce, reuse and recycle much more efficiently? How do we get our waste into the ecological cycles?    |     |         | |    | |   | |  |   |  |    |  Vital waste graphics and (GRID-Arendal)  |
    City garbage dump Bangkok

    City garbage dump Bangkok. Photo: Å. Bjørke

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  7. Chemicals – It is becoming increasingly evident that in combination some chemicals can cause harmful effects in wildlife species, in laboratory animals, and in humans, even in concentrations considered safe for the individual chemical.   |     |    |    |     | Poisoning the poor –  |   | |    |  |     |     |    | | | |     (March 2015|  |(Oct 2017) |
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  8. The Oceans are , polluted,, . Efficient global management is urgently needed. |     |     |    |    |  |     |  |    |    |  |   | |   | (NYT Jan 2015)  | | (Science, Jan 2015) |  (jan 2015)  |  |  | |   |  |  (Jan 2016) | (Jan 2016)  | (July 2016) ||

    The ocean. Hove at Arendal, Norway. Photo: Å. Bjørke

    The ocean. Hove at Arendal, Norway. Photo: Å. Bjørke

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  9. Population control. All our systems – liberalism, socialism, mercantilism, keynesianism, neo-liberalism etc are based on philosophies formed when the human population on Earth was less than 2 billion people.  All world religions were formed when the world population was less than  a billion people. We have no clear system in place for handling seven billion people – not to speak about the nine billion people we will be in 30 years. The most efficient way to reduce  population growth is education, especially female higher education.    |   (BBC April 2012) |    |     |     |  | | |  | |     |   |  (TED lecture) |  |   | |  |   | |    |
    New Dehli

    New Dehli “rush”. Photo: Å. Bjørke

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  10. Ecology, development and economy are interrelated. Development is necessary for ensuring ecologically sound economical practices. How can we transform our economies from “cowboy-economy” to “space-ship economy”? How can we secure reasonable prosperity for all?          |  How can we ensure a solidarity-based green eco-economy that includes the poor, while avoiding landgrabbing and more resources to the rich and to multinational companies? Is it possible to  use echnologies ?  |     |  (2014) |    |    |      |   |    |     |    |     |   |  (WB 2014)  |  |  (2015) | (WB 2015) | (NG Dec 2015) |  

    At time the ecological price is too high. Svetca factories, Mitrovica, Kosovo. Photo: Å. Bjørke

    At times the ecological price is too high. Svetca factories, Mitrovica, Kosovo. Photo: Å. Bjørke

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  11. Corruption, land-grabbing, , for the superrich. Globalisation processes must include much better international law enforcement – also against the super-rich and organised crime networks. The must be respected everywhere.  Irresponsible depletion of our common natural resources and ecosystems must stop. International organised crime syndicates may not continue and other natural resources, ,, – and . Just  and are necessary tools.
    A common argument is that poor countries need fossil fuels to develop.  In reality very few poor countries that have found oil can boast of development for people in general. Rampant corruption and appalling pollution are the key words. 
    .
  12. Growing cities. More of the world’s populations will live in cities.  That can be a good thing if managed properly.  How do we make cities greener, more ecologically sound, healthier and more attractive to live in? is one of the organisations working with these questions. See:  | |  |  |  |
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  13. Ozone layer depletion. The ozone layer acts like a giant sunshade, protecting plants and animals from much of the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation.  Ozone forms a layer in the stratosphere, 15-40 km above earth surface. If the ozone in the atmosphere from ground level to a height of 60 km could be assembled at the earth’s surface, it would comprise a layer of gas only about 3 mm thick.

    The ozone layer (UNEP)

    The ozone layer (UNEP)

    Global stratospheric ozone levels have declined, which means that the ozone layer is changing. A depletion of the ozone layer will increase the UV-radiation at ground level, in the troposphere. Increasing doses of UV-B may cause skin cancer, eye cataracts, damage to the immune system in animals as well as human beings, and have an adverse impact on plant growth.
      ||   ||     ||    ||
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    The ozone molecule

    The ozone molecule

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  14. Land degradation accelerates due to increasing pressures of agricultural and industrialised livestock production, urbanization, deforestation, and extreme weather events such as droughts and coastal surges which salinate land. Instead of increasingareas and making them more resilient, we degrade and reduce these areas.  |  | (BBC) |    |  |    |    (April 2014) |   |    || || ||  ||   ||

    The South West USA is worn down and drying up. Arizona, USA. Photo: Å. Bjørke

    The South West USA is worn down and drying up. Arizona, USA. Photo: Å. Bjørke

There are three main spheres of sustainable development: environment, society and economy. Environmental issues like water and waste affect every nation. Social issues like employment, human rights , equity and security are in the newspaper headlines everywhere every day. Economic issues like poverty reduction and corporate responsibility must be addressed by all responsible politicians.

Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is clearly needed. ESD should be integrated in all education at all stages. The goals must be to:

  • facilitate networking, linkages, exchange and interaction among all relevant stakeholders
  • foster increased quality of teaching and learning in education for sustainable development
  • help countries make progress towards and attain the Millennium Development Goals () as a first minimum
  • help private and public sector abide by environmental conventions and laws and follow international ethical and environmental standards for extraction, production and trade, like the ISO 14000 and ISO 26000
  • develop action competence and awareness on ESD
  • build hope for a better, sustainable  future

“Full access to quality education at all levels is an essential condition for achieving sustainable development, poverty eradication, gender equality and women’s empowerment as well as human development, for the attainment of the internationally agreed development goals including the Millennium Development Goals, as well as for the full participation of both women and men, in particular young people”   (Focus on Rio + 10 )

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  12. Syed Harir shah says:

    Very logical points presented covering the overall aspect of Disaster risk reduction. As a disaster risk reduction practitioners, I am fully agreed with the challenges highlighted above, I would say that making the world resilient to disasters/hazards, the above challenges are relating to disaster risk reduction discipline. We we enable to address them, we belief there will be no disaster, even if there is some unpredictable events that will be mitigated through the measure, for which the above points are principles for consideration and adaptation.

    Like

  13. says:

    Hello Åke
    Thanks for the link.
    Super important points you are raising.
    As advisor for nurse development projects in several countries in Africa I often stress that nurses must: 1. take care of their patients. 2. take care of each other. 3. take care of the natural environment.
    A worsening natural environment – less hospitable for humans – will lead to greater health care burdens, adversely affecting the work load of already overburdened nurses.
    Keep up the good work!
    Michael Vitols, Special Advisor, Norwegian Nurses Organation

    Like

    • Dagny Nyfelt says:

      Good points, Michael.
      Climate change and general warming, will probably also lead to more vectorborn diseases lika malaria, dengue, westnilefever, bilharzia etc.
      Greetings from Dagny Nyfelt
      Former infection control nurse.

      Like

  14. Bjørn Bugge-Asperheim says:

    Veldig interessant og viktig.Det er em gryende(?) interesse for den katastrofe menneskeheten og jorden nærmer seg mot, – menoppdager vi det for sent til å kunne reversere utviklingen? Viktig arbeid du gjør.

    Like

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