ESD is about enabling people to be able to acquire the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values necessary to shape a sustainable future. UNESCO has been promoting ESD through its Global Action Programme which was launched in 2014. The Global Action Programme focusses on generating and scaling up ESD action at all levels and in all areas of education and sustainable development sectors.
Capacity building workshops were also recently held in each UNESCO region. This included the Asia-Pacific regional meeting, which Kokaua attended in Bangkok last year.
At the workshop, Kokaua was challenged by UNESCO to implement a youth workshop in his own country. This led to him running one on Rarotonga, held in February. It was attended by 38 high school students from around Rarotonga.
The two themes for Kokaua’s workshop were environmental degradation and issues arising from loss of cultural knowledge and identity. Kokaua believes these two issues are a priority for the Cook Islands.
The Paris conference aimed to agree on a network platform for ESD Youth Leaders to facilitate collaboration and to continue an increase in capacity-building activities. It also aimed to engage youth leaders and young journalists to increase publicity for ESD actions through media and communication outlets. Finally, the youth leaders wanted to provide input to the draft position paper on the future of ESD.
Last week’s conference saw 50 youth leaders and 20 journalists from around the world come together. Each participant brought with them a huge amount of ambition, talent, and plenty of knowledge which they have attained through implementing projects in their home countries.
Kokaua says he was dispirited that no other representatives from the Pacific Islands were able to attend the conference. Only Kokaua and a single delegate from New Zealand represented the entire Oceania region, which includes 16 sovereign states and at least 12 remotely governed “dependent territories”.
Kokaua attended a number of informative capacity-building sessions with topics including partnerships and collaboration, communication via video reporting, community building and networking, and break-out sessions on fundraising, world heritage, and cultural dialogue for ESD.
He is now looking forward to being able to use the skills learned during the conference, and hopes his own ESD projects benefit as a result.
He also hopes to use the online networking platform to collaborate on projects with other youth leaders. Kokaua says he hopes to share this platform with other youth conducting ESD projects, both in the Cook Islands and throughout the Pacific.
- Release/Liam Ratana