Moving towards the goal of sustainability requires fundamental changes in human attitudes and behaviour. Progress in this direction is thus critically dependent on education and public awareness. The concept of sustainable development – as this document suggests – is not a simple one, and there is no road map to prescribe how we should proceed. Yet time is short, and we are called upon to act without delay. We must move ahead now, in a spirit of exploration and experimentation and with the broadest possible range of partners, so as to contribute through education to correcting trends that place in jeopardy our common future.
The International Conference on Environment and Society: Education and Public Awareness for Sustainability, organized by UNESCO and the Government of Greece, is designed to highlight the role of education and public awareness for sustainability, to consider the important contribution of environmental education in this context, and to mobilize action to this end. The Conference follows on from major meetings relevant to education for sustainable development held in Tbilisi in 1977, Jomtien in 1990, Toronto in 1992 and Istanbul in 1993 as well the series of United Nations conferences beginning in 1992 with Rio (environment and development) and followed in 1994 by Cairo (population), in 1995 by Copenhagen (social development) and Beijing (women), and in 1996 by Istanbul (human settlements). It is also being held at the end of a year that, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Tbilisi Conference and the fifth anniversary of the Rio Conference, has seen the organization of numerous national and regional events (many with the backing of UNESCO), providing a wealth of information on the situation in countries around the world.
Twenty years after Tbilisi and five years after Rio and ECO-ED, who would deny that too little has been achieved? As I stated at the special session of the General Assembly held in June 1997 to review progress...
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