I dream of a world that is fair, inclusive and equitable. A world where biodiversity is respected, celebrated, conserved, sustainably used and restored. Where there is balance because we take only what we need, reuse what we have, and ensure that resources are shared fairly. A world where we coexist in harmony with nature. As we have seen this month at IUCN’s first ever Global Youth Summit, this is the world that thousands of young people want to live in too.
We have learnt that for such a vision to come true, quick-fix, “silver bullet” solutions or small incremental changes to the way our world works will not be enough. We need to wake up to the challenges of the 21st century and to what we have to do to improve the way we live, not just for ourselves, but for all our fellow human beings, for nature and for our planet. We need what the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) calls a transformative change. In other words, we need a fundamental and structural transformation in the way our societies work; one where all sectors of society, across every generation, realign their priorities, values, and actions to ensure a sustainable and just future for all.
While this is not easy to achieve, we also know that such a change to our societies and economies is the only way to solve the social and environmental challenges humanity faces. We know what societies must become to address the nature crisis, but the question of how to get there remains.
If we are to transform our world, we need transformative education to pave the way.
Throughout the last few years I have been supporting the Global Youth Biodiversity Network (GYBN) in undertaking national and regional consultations. At each consultation young people are asked what they think are our best ways to learn to live in harmony with nature. Wherever we are, I hear one point mentioned: education.
Education plays a crucial role in our transition towards sustainable and just societies. Not only because it shapes the values, knowledge and skills of upcoming generations but also because educational institutions play a key social role in our communities, far beyond teaching and learning. If we are to transform our world, we need transformative education to pave the way.