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First ESD Innovations Course 2006

2006-2007 UNEP/UNESCO/AAU/UNU/GVU Mainstreaming Environment and Sustainability into African Universities Partnership AWARDS For Education for Sustainable Development Innovations Programmes in African Universities



  1. Brief Inrtoduction To The United Nations Decade for Sustainable Development (UNDESD, 2005 - 2014) The Goal and Objectives

Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) has its roots in the history of two distinct areas of core interest for the United Nations: (1) education; and (2) sustainable development.  On these critical foundations the establishment of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (UNDESD) was proposed and endorsed at the World Summit for Sustainable Development (WSSD) in 2002, and in December of the same year, adopted by the UN General Assembly with UNESCO designated as the lead agency. UNEP and UNESCO have signed a joint statement to work together to implement the UNDESD.

According to the UNDESD International Implementation Scheme (UNESCO: 2005), it is noted that the overall goal of the Decade is:

“…to integrate the principles, values, and practices of sustainable development into all aspects of education and learning.  This education effort will encourage change in behaviour that will create a more sustainable future in terms of environmental integrity, economic viability, and a just society for present and future generations”.

In addition, the International Implementation Scheme describes the following sub-goals for the UNDESD at the national level: (1) to provide an opportunity for refining and promoting the vision of and transition to sustainable development – through all forms of education, public awareness and training; and (2) to give enhanced profile to the important role of education and learning in sustainable development. 

The objectives of the UNDESD are to (1) facilitate networking, linkages, exchange and interaction among stakeholders in ESD; (2) foster an increased quality of teaching and learning in education for sustainable development; (3) help countries make progress towards, and attain, the Millennium Development Goals through ESD efforts; and (4) provide countries with new opportunities to incorporate ESD into educational reform efforts.

2. MESA Universities Parnership Objectives

The MESA Universities Partnership aims to enhance the quality and policy relevance of university education in Africa through the implementation of environment and sustainability as an underlying topic in diverse curricula and as practice in all other aspects of university life. The overarching goal shall be to create a scientific knowledge base about Education for Sustainable Development in Africa, meant for all students and staff, and to develop action competence and awareness which will benefit the lives and careers of the direct program participants.   The objectives are:

  • To enhance the quality and policy relevance of university education in Africa in the context of sustainable development and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
  • To increase the knowledge on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), so that the future business managers, scientists and political leaders of the continent will incorporate values and principles of sustainable development in their decision-making.
  • To raise awareness, spread a new way of thinking about environment, development and society, beyond the university boundaries inside the many other social circles in which students, teachers and managers live their lives.
  • To offer unprecedented opportunities for collaborative projects between university/ civil society/ communities and private sector.
  • To contribute to the revitalization of Africa’s Higher Education System, and to strengthen African scholarship and African partnerships for sustainable development.
The MESA Universities Partnership is a contribution to the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, aimed at implementing the objectives of the UNDESD in and through Universities in Africa. It recognizes the important role that Universities in Africa play in sustainable development.

3. Criteria for The MESA University Awards:

Any MESA innovation must be a university-based innovation in an African University. The innovation could be in one or more of the following areas:

  • Teaching (including curriculum, pedagogy and / or use of ICT)
  • Research
  • Community/private sector engagement; or
  • Management

Any MESA innovation should reflect the following:

  • The intention of the UN Decade on Education for Sustainable Development, which requires re-orientation towards sustainable development
  • Be relevant to the social, economic and environmental contexts in Africa and reflect the way in which universities are responding to changing social needs
  • Reflect principles and values of sustainable development
  • Be sustainable and viable in the long term
  • Be part of a process of mainstreaming environment and sustainability into the ‘normal’ programmes and activities of the university
  • Show evidence of links to, and partnerships with community institutions and/or industry and business.
4. MESA Awards Programme Schedule
June 4, 2007
  • Information on the UNEP website and dispatching of application forms to all MESA participating Universities
  • 18 June 2007

  • Submission of completed application forms and Innovations report
  • 20 – 22 June

  • Posting of innovation reports on website for voting
  • 25 June

  • Notification of the winners to respective institutions (3)
  • 2-6 July 2007
  • First MESA Innovations Awards at the 2007 World Environmental Education Congress in Durban, South Africa
  • Conferment of the Awards (with an honorable mention of the runners up)
  • NOTE:  This cycle will continue throughout the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development

    This Application Form is to be filled out by the implementing university and should be accompanied by:

    1. A portfolio of evidence showing the ‘baseline’ situation (before the innovation was implemented) and the current situation (once the innovation has been implemented).
    2. The portfolio of evidence should be accompanied by a detailed report (of no more than 10 pages) on the ESD innovation.
    3. The annual report, development plan of the university and any other publications of relevance to the ESD innovation may also be submitted.
    The original Application Form with (1) portfolio of evidence (2) project report and (3) other reports and documentation that are of relevance to the ESD innovation

    All correspondence should be addressed to:

    Ms. Akpezi Ogbuigwe
    United Nations Environment Programme
    PO Box 30552
    00100 Nairobi
    Telephone:  (254 20) 7621234
    Fax: (254 20) 7623927

    Download the application form > > [Word -176 KB] [PDF - 135 KB]




    © UNEP