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United Nations Transforming Education Summit Leaders Day Spotlight Session 3 – Transforming Education to transform the world: Learning to live together sustainably

Your excellencies! Ministers! Good morning!

Good morning to the experts and young people that are here with us today!

It is a great honor to participate in this session to discuss the need to transform education in order to support the global change of our societies, towards a greater environmental and social sustainability.

The participated process launched for the preparation of the Summit made us aware that transformative education is that kind of education able to support both individuals and societies in overcoming current and future crises, giving all learners the opportunity to develop the competences to become active and responsible citizens, promoting a sustainable socio-economic model of development.

We are also more aware of the fact that crises, although of a different nature, tend to be increasingly interconnected and, above all, to acquire a global dimension – as in the case of the climate crisis, which affects the entire planet and has an impact on migration, health and the global economy.

Even education systems are interconnected, and for this reason it is necessary to act together, in a spirit of cooperation and solidarity, to give back to education its capacity to promote the socio-economic development of the planet, with particular attention to its sustainability, fostering in the young generations the awareness of the complexity of the world we are living in, providing the tools to act for change.

I strongly believe that sustainability, understood as the promotion of global citizenship and combat of climate change, could give a fundamental contribution to this endeavor of transforming societies!

Starting from the Call to Action on Greening Education, I would like to present some of the main initiatives implemented by our government, which have emerged from the vision matured in Italy on the theme of sustainability.

The most important achievement is that this vision has given rise to a law that was passed by our Parliament in 2019.

The law aims to address the climate crisis by promoting active and responsible citizenship among new generations, by raising awareness on human and civil rights, on the importance of adopting sustainable behaviors and economic models, and on the opportunities offered by digital technologies.

The implementation of the law, launched in September 2020, has endorsed exactly the same approach of UN SDG 4, which implies a review of curricula and is based on an innovative teaching approach and innovative teachers’ training.

In fact, civic education, which includes education for sustainable development, global citizenship education, and education for digital citizenship, is part of our national educational offer, from primary to secondary education, included early childhood education and care andadult learning. Moreover, civic education contributes, like all other disciplines, to the evaluation of school performance achieved by our students.

The vision of sustainability has also characterized the new Re-generation School Plan aimed at regenerating the educational function of the school through learning activities showing that development is sustainable if it responds to the needs of present generations and does not compromise future generations. In this way students are supported by the school community and the whole local community to learn how to inhabit the world in a new way.

The Plan pursues environmental but also social and economic goals, through actions increasing awareness of the vital bond between people and Nature and of the fact that environmental issues need a systematic approach. From a social point of view, the Plan tries to raise awareness on the need of going beyond anthropocentric thinking, perceiving the connection between solidarity and ecology while, from an economic point of view, awareness raising activities of the economic impact of climate change supports learners in the exploration of how to build zero emissions jobs and enterprises, in a circular and regenerative mode.

Finally, through the plan we are building local and national green communities supporting schools and learners.

These interventions implemented in Italy are perfectly in line with all the actions defined by UNESCO as Greening Learning, Greening Schools, Greening capacity and readiness and Greening communities.

In fact, Italy has been very active on this issue also at international level. We have been trying to foster global interest on Education for Sustainable Development since the COP25 in Madrid. Then in 2021, in partnership with UK and UNESCO, we organized an event on Education for Sustainable Development during the Youth for Climate, and the first event on the theme with the participation of Education and Environment Ministers during the COP26 in Glasgow.

On this theme there has been an immediate convergence with young activists. We believe that in the efforts of changing values and behaviors, promoting sustainable development, young people are the key actors and education is a great tool to achieve the goal!

As for the second invitation of building education systems that foster ethical and socially responsible global citizens, I can say that in Italy we not only share this perspective, but we have also implemented a system action to address all forms of intolerance and discrimination, tackling root causes of hatred and hate speech at all levels of education and promoting global citizenship, in connection with the discipline of civic education.

The Ministry of Education has finalised specific Guidelines for combating Antisemitism to be used in schools and in teachers’ training, in cooperation with the National Coordinator for the fight against Anti-Semitism and Guidelines against bullying and cyber-bulling, providing schools with specific resources and creating a national network aimed at combating youth discomfort.

The Italian vision of sustainability has given rise to a coordinated system of interventions through a strong alliance between all the ministers and partners involved.

It is time to act also at global level, strengthening the bond between the young activists of yesterday and today and building a worldwide partnership to save human life and the Planet!

19 Settembre 2022, New York, Quartier Generale delle Nazioni Unite – Trusteeship Chamber