Sustainable Development Academy

The Course for Sustainability continued in 2013 with a week-long course held in September/October in Venice, Italy. The Course for Sustainability: Western Balkans and Turkey attracted participants from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey, and addressed the ongoing challenges of integrating sustainable development into policy making, planning and implementation. The course provided a theoretical framework for specific aspects of sustainable development, and participants also shared examples of best practice in tackling national challenges.

High-level contributions

The course opened with several high-level guests presenting their professional experience of green growth. Guest of honour was H.R.H. Princess Basma bint Ali of Jordan. Lek Kadeli, deputy assistant administrator for the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lectured on the need for a scientific approach that crosses multiple disciplines, and on how sustainability science at national level can be used on a local scale to complement regulatory frameworks.

The need for a bottom-up approach to the implementation of sustainable development practices was a recurring theme in the lectures and discussions, since international agreements are often stalled by the need to build a consensus. Georgios Kostakos, who served on the secretariat of the UN Secretary-General's High-level Panel on Global Sustainability (GSP), presented the challenges arising in developing an international framework for action during the Rio+20 negotiations.

Zoltan Illes of the Hungarian State Secretariat for Environmental Affairs emphasised the importance of developing need-specific sustainable development practices at regional and local level, rather than downloading international laws and strategies into national practices. Successful regional and local practices can then be uploaded into national and international policies and initiatives, establishing a top-down and bottom-up interface. Professor Janos Zlinszky shared the Hungarian experience of developing the office of the Ombudsman for Future Generations, whose task was to analyse how national Hungarian policies and legislation are likely to impact future generations.

Dr. Nilgun Ciliz of Bogazici University explained how the Sustainable Green Campus Programme was integrated into the Strategic Plan of Bogazici University in order to work towards the achievement of the Regional Development Plan of Istanbul.  The programme included projects on water recycling and conservation, energy efficiency in campus buildings and awareness raising among campus officials and students.

Professor Ignazio Musu of Ca'Foscari University of Venice and Venice International University made clear that the current economic crisis should not be looked at in isolation but as deeply connected with the existing environmental, energy, food and climate crises. Professor Laszlo Pinter of Central European University explained the need for a mechanism through which stakeholders can exchange sustainable development data in a clear and transparent manner, enabling policy makers to reach better-informed decisions.  

Putting learning into practice

The course ended with a country-specific brainstorming session for the development of concrete actions that regional decision makers can then implement in their respective institutions. Participants concluded that, given the rich environmental resources and complex geopolitical history of their region, it is vital to develop regional solutions to environmental problems, and this can be done through sustainable tourism, green growth and environmental awareness raising from individual to institutional level.

In her final remarks, guest of honour H.R.H. Princess Basma bint Ali of Jordan quoted His Majesty King Hussein Bin Abdullah: “All that we hope for us is that a day will come when we have all gone and when people will say this man tried, his family tried. This is all there is to seek in the world.”

PORT OF CALL: Venice, Italy continued to host the week-long SDA course in 2013

CEO Platform for Green Growth in MENA
December 2013| Online

Course for Sustainability for the Western Balkans and Turkey
June 2013 | Online

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