Marking the Close of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014)

            Sustainable development is a concept that evolved from the ideals of the 1992 Rio Declaration following the conclusion of the UN Conference on Environment and Development (also known as the Earth Summit). The Rio Declaration sought to promote the responsible use of resources towards a sustainable future by forging global cooperation for economic development and environmental protection. Building on the Rio Declaration and succeeding Earth summits, the UN General Assembly, through Resolution 57/254, declared 2005 to 2014 as the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development and tasked UNESCO as the lead agency for its promotion.

            In the Philippines, an expression of support for the Rio Declaration came with the adoption of Philippine Agenda 21 on September 26, 1996. Philippine Agenda 21 served as the country’s blueprint for Sustainable Development, the definition of which was expanded in later years to refer not only to economic progress and environmental sustainability, but also to encompass broader human development, e.g., as in knowledge and technology, social institutions, and culture and the arts. On the other hand, the Philippines’ support for the declaration of 2005-2012 as the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development came in the form of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9512 enacted in 2008 and known as the Environmental Awareness and Education Act. RA 9512 articulates the State’s policy of protecting and advancing people’s right to a balanced and healthful ecology; and recognizes the vital role of education in attaining this goal and accelerating social progress overall.

            RA 9512 sought to promote environmental education through an inter-agency and multi-sectoral body composed of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR); the education departments (Department of Education [DepEd], Technical Education and Skills Development Authority [TESDA], and Commission on Higher Education [CHED]; and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST); among others.

            DENR quickly responded to RA 9512 by creating in early 2009 an Environmental Education committee within the Department. DENR also spearheaded convening the Inter-Agency Steering Committee on Environmental Education with members from the above cited departments, non-government associations and private sector groups. DENR established an Environmental and Information Division under its Environmental Management Bureau, while Elenida Basug served as the Philippines national focal point for education for sustainable development or ESD. In her capacity as national focal point, Ms. Basug prepared an end-of-the-decade ESD report detailing the various projects and activities undertaken by the Philippines lead ESD agencies.

  • DENR’s major ESD initiatives included the nationwide commemoration of environmental events year-round (e.g. World Water Day, World Environment Day, National Clean Air Month, Global Warming and Climate Change Consciousness Week etc.) through such activities as civic parades, clean up drives, exhibits, poster-making/essay writing contests, lectures, conferences and work-shapes. For these, DENR produced and shared a wide-range of ESD information, education and communication materials in print and audio-visuals, and including various training modules and manuals on specific ESD topics (Sustainable Consumption, Biodiversity, Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction, etc).
  • DENR’s other notable accomplishments during the decade were the Department’s search for Sustainable and Eco-friendly Schools in partnership with DepEd and CHED; and Recognition Awards for Eco-Friendly Government Officers. By 2013, DENR had bestowed the Sustainable and Eco-Friendly School Awards to some 27 education institutions from elementary, high school and college levels for best integrating into their instruction, research, and extension work environment-related programs. The Department also recognized nine national government agencies for best adopting and pursuing environment management practices.

Winners of the 2009 Eco-Friendly School Awards:

Elementary School Level

            1st        Penablanca East Central School

                       Aggugaddan-Malibabag, Penablanca, Cagayan

            2nd        North Central Elementary School

                        Bonuan Gueset, Dagupan City, Pangasinan

            3rd        Badas Elementary School

                        Badas, Placer, Surigao del Norte

High School Level

            1st        La Castellana National High School

                        La Castellana, Negros Occidental

            2nd        Camarines Sur National High School

                        Naga City, Camarines Sur

            3rd        Daniel R. Aguinaldo National High School

                        Matina, Davao City

 

College Level

            1st        Palawan State University

                        Puerto Princesa City, Palawan

            2nd        Visayas State University

                        Baybay City, Leyte

            3rd        Catanduanes State Colleges

                        Virac, Catanduanes

 

Winners of the 2011 Eco-Friendly School Awards:

Elementary School Level

            1st        Iliranan Elementary School

                        San Carlos City, Negros Occidental

            2nd       Kibawe Central School

                        Kibawe, Bukidnon

            3rd          San Mariano Elementary School

                        Roxas, Oriental Mindoro

 

High School Level

            1st        Camarines Sur National High School

                        Naga City, Camarines Sur

            2nd       University of San Jose Recoletos

                        Cebu City

            3rd      Daniel R. Aguinaldo National High School

                        Matina, Davao City

College Level

            1st        Dela Salle University- Dasmarinas

                        Dasmarinas, Cavite

            2nd       Palawan State University

                        Puerto Princesa, Palawan

            3rd       Ateneo de Manila University

                        Katipunan Ave., Quezon City

 

Winners of the 2013 Eco-Friendly School Awards:

Elementary School Level

      1st        Dubinan Elementary  School

            Dubinan, Santiago City, Cagayan Valley

2nd       Koronadal Central  Elementary School

            Koronadal City, South Cotabato

3rd       Kibawe Central School

            Kibawe, Bukidnon

 

High School Level

1st        Ateneo de Davao University- High School

            Matina, Davao City

2nd       Dona Remedios Trinidad High School

            Dona Remedios, Trinidad, Bulacan

3rd       Diadi National High School

            Diadi, Nueva Ecija, Cagayan Valley

 

College Level

1st        Visayas State University

            VisCa, Baybay Leyte

2nd       Miriam College 

            Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City

3rd       Ateneo de Manila University

            Loyola Heights, Quezon City

 

Recognized Eco-friendly Government Offices (June 2011):

2011 Environmental Excellence Awardees

            Development Bank of the Philippines

            National Electrification Administration

            Philippine Heart Center

2011 Citation of Merit Awardees

            Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas

            Department of Public Works and Highways

            Department of Social Welfare and Development

            National Economic and Development Authority

            National Housing Authority

            Philippine Economic Zone Authority

            For its part, DepEd integrated environmental education into its Basic Education Curriculum so that by 2011-2012, all major subjects in elementary and high schools (from Science, Social Studies, Music and the Arts, Technology and Livelihood) carried environmental lessons and messages. DepEd likewise promoted environmental awareness in its co-curricular activities as exemplified by its Brigada Eskwela program. This mobilized school officials, students, community members and local associations to volunteer their time for the maintenance of school facilities while also discussing environmental issues and concerns, e.g., as those facing hazardous areas and the disruption of classes by natural disasters and emergencies.

  • DepEd too, undertook ESD initiatives in the Department’s Informal and Non-Formal Education Programs largely through its Bureau of Alternative Learning Systems which helped implement the National Tree Planting Program and produced several learning resources and materials on Sustainable Environment and Educational Development for street children, parents, market vendors, out-of-school youth and the like DepEd’s Alternative Learning System also subsumes on Indigenous Peoples Education program which similarly has been infused with environmental content.
  • At tertiary level, CHED has enjoined all higher education institutions to integrate environmental education in the curriculum. In particular, environmental matters and topics have been taken into account in the curriculum of degree programs in Environmental Science as well as in other Science Programs (BS Chemistry, Biology and Geology) and almost all Engineering Programs (Civil, Mining, Electrical, Aeronautical, Industrial etc).
  • As of 2009, CHED also had funded some 37 researches on environmental topics and mobilized its Zonal Research Centers to undertake a biodiversity assessment and inventory of the flora and fauna of the country’s terrestrial and marine ecosystems.  CHED likewise supports and promotes various conferences to disseminate the research outputs of colleges and universities on environmental topics and issues.
  • Complementing the ESD initiatives of DepEd and CHED, TESDA similarly imbued its technical and vocational course programs with environmental sustainability concerns. Among TESDA’s notable EDS contributions during the decade were special skills training courses on the repair and maintenance of motorcycles to lower/ minimize carbon monoxide emissions; the provision of technical expertise for the roadside inspection of mobile air conditioning systems, the pursuit of solid waste management, and the fabrication of multi-purpose shredder machines. TESDA too, sponsored various fora on global warming and climate change, and produced several ESD informational materials, as a video on ozone science for the refrigeration and air conditioning sectors, powerpoint presentations on occupational safety and health; composting kits; and modules on energy conservation, recycling and the like.
  • DOST’s ESD contribution on the other hand came with the department’s mandate of advancing the sciences and science education in the country. The Philippines Science High School System that is under DOST’s supervision developed an Environmental Science course offering that deals with the major science concepts behind environmental problems and issues concerning the atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, energy resources and washes. Philippine Science High Schools also conduct micro research tours on these topics, and other ecological and geologic trips to promote student awareness of forest and ecosystem diversity, the physical structure of the earth, the environmental impacts of energy plants, and DENR’s environmental conservation and rehabilitation programs.
  • In terms of research and development, DOST embarked on a wide range of Research and Development programs and projects through its research councils and line agencies. The Philippine Council for Industry Energy Research and Development for instance undertook studies on industrial waste materials, heavy metal contamination, and the development of products like nanofiber membrane for waste water treatment and coco peat filters for treatment of heavy metals. The Industrial Technology Institute also undertook research on the environmental technologies in use by local governments, companies and other bodies to promote the exchange of information on these practices and improve the quality of environmental technologies across the country.

The foregoing efforts of DENR, DepEd, CHED, TESDA and DOST in addition to similar activities and projects undertaken by still other national and local agencies did much to raise Filipino knowledge and understanding of environmental threats, problems and issues. These have also influenced policy making and mobilized action at local and national levels towards environmental conservation and the prudent use of natural resources for economic progress and development.

 

            Kominkan-CLC International Conference on ESD

            The Kominkan-CLC International Conference: Community Based Human Development for Sustainable Development was designed as a run-up event to the 2014 Nagoya World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development. This Kominkan-CLC (Community Learning Centers) International Conference took place in Okayama Japan on 8-12 October 2014. The Conference sought to envision a post-DESD future for education for sustainable development through/by reinvigorating “kominkans” or local community learning centers as life-wide and lifelong multigenerational learning sites. CLCs can spark the evolution of localities into “learning towns or cities” and synergize educational/learning activities that take place at home and in families, in schools and training institutions, at work, in local temples and churches, and the market place. Educators, practitioners and researchers of community learning centers gathered at the Conference to exchange ideas and experiences and advance the role of CLCs in promoting sustainable development. Representing the Philippines at the Conference were Dr. Zenaida T. Domingo, Director of UNESCO South East Asia Centre of Lifelong Learning for Sustainable Development; and Mr. Rex A. Ubac, Jr. PH NatCom Programme Officer for Education.

            Dr. Domingo facilitated a breakout session on Disaster Risk Reduction. Speakers and presenters of the said session discussed their respective countries policies and programs on DRR that highlight the functional role of Community Learning Center. Furthermore, Dr. Domingo and Mr. Ubac helped in crafting the Okayama Commitment which is premised on the need to integrate quality education and lifelong learning on future education agenda.  

 

            The 2014 World Conference on ESD

            The 2014 UNESCO World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development was planned to mark the end of the ESD Decade, and to launch the subsequent Global Action Programme on ESD. This Ministerial-level conference took place in Aichi- Nagoya, Japan on 10-12 November 2014. Under the banner “Learning Today for a Sustainable Future,” the conference celebrated the achievements of the Decade and identified lessons learnt, while setting the stage for the future of ESD. It also showcased key initiatives, networks and ideas that the Decade stimulated. Such examples from all over the world served as inputs to the drafting of the Global Action Program (post-2015) on ESD, and which in turn will inform the deliberations of the forthcoming World Education Forum scheduled from 19-22 May 2014 in Incheon, South Korea. The Philippines was represented at this Ministerial conference by DepEd Assistant Secretary Reynaldo Laguda.

 

            The UNESCO ASPnet International ESD Conference for Students and Teachers

            Held concurrently with the Ministerial World Conference on ESD, this side conference was held to review the efforts and achievements of UNESCO Associated Schools Project Network or ASPnet during the Decade of ESD. It served as a venue for ASPnet students and teachers to share their more meaningful insights and memorable experiences about ESD; and to affirm their continuing commitment to respect the environment, and the cultures and traditions of other human beings—regardless of age and where they live. Representing the Philippines ASPnet in this event were James Matthew B. Davis, Pax Et Lumen International Academy, Angeles City; Kizza Marie Ebaldone, Jaro National High School, Iloilo City; Abigail Ann A. Ching, Miriam College, Quezon City; and Adriann M. Co, Ramon Pascual Institute, Paranaque City. They were accompanied by Mr. Allan Bernard R. Aman, Physics HS Teacher, Ramon Pascual Institute.