Pakistan targets youth education to boost sustainability

From UNEP Stories:

We could lift one hundred and seventy-one million people out of poverty with it, cut child deaths by half and maternal mortality by 66 per cent with it, and in a world where almost one billion people go hungry, prevent wastage of 1.3 billion tonnes of food each year with it.

“It” is education, a powerful tool to shift values and behaviour— including using our resources more efficiently. Without education, achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 will be impossible.

This simple truth has led Pakistan to start work on aligning its education curriculum with the SDGs— the first country to do so since last year, when the world delivered a set of agreements to guide global development in the next 15 years and beyond.

“Achieving the SDGs requires behavioural change, which requires shifts in value systems,” said Mr. Muhammad Irfan Tariq, Director General of Environment and Climate Change at the Ministry of Climate Change of Pakistan (MoCC). “These shifts, in turn, can be achieved through educating our children.”

Education crucial to sound decisions by future leaders

UN Environment and MoCC have partnered with PIEDAR, a national non-governmental organization (NGO) with 25 years of experience in extending environmental education in Pakistan, and Aflatoun International, a global NGO that leads on education programs with over 3.9 million children and youth reached in 53,091 schools and non-formal education centres, and almost 200 partners spread across 116 countries.

“An understanding of challenges such as managing water scarcity and energy resources from a young age could also shape behaviour and generate important opportunities for innovation and green entrepreneurship,” said Mr. Simon Bailey, Head of Programmes and Research, Aflatoun International.

This is also a first for UN Environment: it’s the first time the organization is working directly with a government on environmental education policy and focusing on primary school education.

“In less than 15 years, today’s children will be tomorrow’s adults,” said Ms. Sara Castro-Hallgren, Programme Officer for the SWITCH-Asia Regional Programme at the UN Environment. “Education policies must ensure that our future leaders have the knowledge and skills to guide resource efficient development in their communities.”