The United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (UNDESD) was proposed by then Japanese prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, at the World Summit on Sustainable Development, Johannesburg 2002. In the same year a resolution designating the years 2005 to 2014 as the UNDESD was unanimously adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. Japan developed a UNDESD action plan in 2006.
The action plan addresses the importance of implementing sustainable development programs at higher education institutions as a first step. In June 2007 the 21st Century Environmental Nation Strategy and Innovation 25 was approved by the Japanese Cabinet. Both initiatives address the need for training future environmental leaders with the ability to meet environmental challenges both in Japan and overseas. In the same year leaders from countries across Asia, meeting at the East Asia Summit (EAS), high level meetings between China and Japan, and other meetings, agreed to work together toward developing environmental leadership in Asia.
The Ministry of the Environment set up a panel of experts from universities, companies, and nonprofit organizations to review the Vision for Environmental Leadership Initiatives for Asian Sustainability in Higher Education (Environmental Leadership Vision) and that Vision was adopted in March 2008.
Who are Asia’s Future Environmental Leaders?
Sustainable development initiatives in Asia
Asian countries are experiencing an escalating demand for natural resources, food and water on top of soaring pollution and health problems as well as increasing greenhouse gas emissions due to rapid economic expansion and population growth.
There is an urgent need in these countries to train future environmental leaders who will work to ensure sustainable development.
Two types of people are needed to achieve sustainable development:
1. Environmentally-conscious citizens: people whose lifestyles have a minimal environmental impact
Conventional environmental education has focused on raising people’s environmental awareness.
2. Environmental leaders: leaders who have the ability to make the socioeconomic system more harmonious with the environment through environmentally-friendly products, services, businesses, technologies, and policies
A vision for training such environmental leaders has been proposed by the panel.
Definition of environmental leaders in the Environmental Leadership Vision
Environmental leaders are those who look at environmental problems in light of their own experience and moral values, are committed to leveraging their area of expertise to realize sustainable development in their professional and private lives, and exercise leadership in fulfilling their social responsibilities.
Three requirements for leadership training
Interviews conducted with more than 200 environmental professionals at universities, companies and NGOs asking for their opinions about environmental leadership revealed that there are mainly three basic building blocks that go into making environmental leaders. These building blocks include commitment, expertise, and leadership.
Skills required for Asia environmental leaders in the long-term and short-term
|In advanced Asian countries||In developping Asian countries|
|Short- term||In different phases||