Education should play big role in sustainable development: Experts

Filed on January 27, 2011

MUSCAT Top experts in cultural and natural heritage, educators, tourism specialists and officials from several countries around the world have gathered here to discuss the role of education in sustainable development.

The ‘Conference on Education for Sustainable Development in support of Cultural and Biological diversity’ was opened by Abdulaziz bin Mohammed Al Rowas, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said’s Advisor for Cultural Affairs, on Monday.

Key officials of the Education Ministry, which is hosting the event together with Unesco, said the conference was aimed at helping educational systems to promote international efforts to reduce the conceptual gap between culture and nature.

Those attending the inaugural session included Education Minister Yahya bin Saud Al Sulaimi and Unesco Director-General Dr Irina Bokova. Sulaimi, in a speech, described the meeting as the sultanate’s “contribution in the International Year of Biodiversity, the International Year of Rapprochement of Cultures and the International Year of Youth (IYY)”.

Preserving the planet’s biodiversity, he stressed, was one of the fundamentals of sustainable development. Education played a vital role in this context as a tool in confronting the main problems related to water, energy and climate change, as well as mitigating the effects of disasters and loss of biodiversity, food shortage and health hazards, he added.

Bokova said the conference reflected “the deep commitment of the Sultanate of Oman to education and, in particular, to education for sustainable development”. She pointed out that the 2010 United Nations Human Development Report listed the sultanate as one of the countries that had most improved in human development over the last 40 years. “This has reflected a national focus on health and education. This focus is shown also in the national initiative of the ‘Oman 2020’ Economic Vision,” she added.

On Sunday, Bokova presided over the second meeting of the Task Force of National Commissions for Unesco for the Euro-Arab Dialogue here. Secretaries-general from 12 countries took part in the discussions, along with representatives from ISESCO, the Council of Europe, Unesco Cataluña Center and Al Jaber Foundation.

The director-general underscored the role of National Commissions in helping Unesco build international cooperation through education, science, culture, and communication and information.

Bokova also visited the Jabrin Castle and the Bahla Fort, which was included in Unesco’s World Heritage List in 1987.

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