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UK Knight Says Govt Must Support Sustainable Dev.

The New Zealand government needs to provide stronger backing and financial support to education for sustainable development in this country, says Sir Jonathon Porritt, chairman of the United Kingdom Sustainable Development Commission and Programme Director of the Forum for the Future.

Speaking at New Zealand’s third Environmental Education conference, held in Auckland over the last four days, Sir Jonathon emphasised that education lies at the heart of a sustainable society.

“Good education depends on good educators and there are plenty of those in New Zealand.

“What is missing is the political will to give those educators the backing and financial support to make New Zealand a world leader in this area.

“That could be part of a bigger drive by the New Zealand government to put in place institutions and initiatives to turn its sustainable development plan into living practice.

“We’re starting to accept that issues like climate change, collapsing ecosystems and over-fishing are posing a real threat to our quality of life and future prosperity.

“That’s the bad news. The good news is that we’re not short of solutions to these problems – it just needs the political will to make a real go of it.”

Sir Jonathon will be expanding on this message when he meets with central and local government politicians and business leaders in Wellington tomorrow.

280 delegates from throughout New Zealand and overseas attended the conference, organised by the New Zealand Association of Environmental Education.

Delegates heard keynote addresses from other speakers including the Asia-Pacific director of UNESCO’s Growing Up in Cities project Dr Karen Malone, and the Director of Taiwan’s Sustainable Campus Program, Professor H.Jenny Su.

Taiwan’s government provides annual funding to support the development of sustainable buildings and environments in hundreds of education institutions and schools throughout Taiwan. These programmes are associated with research and environmental education programmes, and the creation of new business opportunities in rural and urban areas.

Auckland businessman Rob Fenwick, chairman of the steering committee for the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development in New Zealand and chair of the NZ Business Council for Sustainable Development closed the conference stating that UNESCO has declared education for sustainable development as the global priority for the coming decade.

“There is a yawning gap between what we New Zealanders say we want – our clean green landscapes, our just egalitarian society and our beloved kiwi way of life – and what we get,” said Mr Fenwick.

“Education for sustainable development needs to be the foundation for all learning and the starting point for economics, social equity and law, engineering and design, the arts and all other disciplines,” he said.

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