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In 2015, The United Nations
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) adopted 17
sustainable development goals designed to transform the world into a better
UNESCO hopes to implement these
goals through its work on targeted areas such as education, natural sciences,
social and human sciences, culture, communication and information, and
sustainable development initiatives for the ocean.
It’s an ambitious list and they’ll
need all the help they can get.
“UNESCO is looking to have these
goals addressed by 2030,” said WSD Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)
Consultant Chantelle Cotton. “To have these issues solved by then would be an
amazing legacy for WSD and the world.”
To help build leadership for
sustainable development projects, ESD “champions” from WSD’s 78 schools met in
mid-November for a mentorship meeting.
Fatima Mota, WSD’s Superintendent
of Education Services—Equity & Diversity, Inclusive Education, said the
event was intended to provide resources and guidance to mentors who in turn
build capacity for sustainable development initiatives at the school level.
“Our Board of Trustees has a strong
focus on sustainability,” Ms. Mota said. “We can all work together to create
sustainability through the lens of literacy and numeracy, which are our priorities.”
Working with Ms. Cotton, mentors
can connect teachers and ESD projects at their home school with similar
projects, guest speakers and resources from other schools.
With UNESCO’s goals ranging from
ending poverty and zero hunger to goals focusing on preserving life on land and
in the water, there are plenty of opportunities for teachers and students to
explore projects and goals that tie into the ESD pillars of economic, social
“The whole idea of sustainability
is that those three pillars are so interrelated,” Ms. Mota said. “It’s looking
at everything from different angles to see the impact environmentally, socially
Lawrence Charach, an Inclusive
Education Teacher at Gordon Bell School, helps to run a recycling program at
his school with students in the Community Access Program. The recycling effort
is an example of how sustainable development initiatives can have many impacts.
“The kids go out in teams and
collect the recycling, sort it and put it in the recycling bins. They develop a
lot of skills in the process. It’s about teamwork, partnering with others to
get a job done and reach a goal,” he said.
ESD mentors at the workshop broke
into smaller groups to each focus on and research one of the 17 goals on the
UNESCO list. The goal was to create a working document/resource for teachers
throughout WSD. ESD mentors are now sharing the ideas and research from the
workshop with their peers at school.
“You can make a difference at a
local level,” Mr. Charach said. “We’re looking at how we can make a difference,
in a practical way, with the students at our school.”