The 5th International Conference on Sustainability Education (ICSE) was organized at the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi from September 19-20, 2023 on the theme “Educating for Climate Action and Sustainability”. This landmark event witnessed a convergence of over 1000 global sustainability thought leaders, educators, entrepreneurs, policymakers, youth groups and environmentalists from across 15+ countries.
Dr. Ram Boojh, CEO Mobius Foundation, welcomed the delegates and introduced the theme of the conference while emphasising the need for immediate action to address the urgent challenges posed by climate change and environmental degradation. The inaugural ceremony featured inspiring addresses from distinguished environmentalists including Dr. Jane Goodall DBE, Founder – the Jane Goodall Institute & UN Messenger of Peace, Dr. Rajendra Singh conservationist and environmentalist (popularly known as Waterman of India), Shri Kartikeya Sarabhai Founder Director, Centre for Environment Education, Dr. Anil Prakash Joshi Founder HESCO, Donna Goodman Founder Earth Child Institute, USA, Mr. Pradip Burman Chairman Mobius Foundation, Mr. Praveen Garg President Mobius Foundation and Mr. Atul Bagai Country Head for United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) India addressed the conference as chief guest.
The consensus among the speakers was a unified call to education, actionable initiatives, and a reconnection with traditional values to foster sustainability and environmental reverence. The session concluded with a gracious Vote of Thanks by Dr. Ram Boojh.
Post the ceremonials, the conference delved into pertinent discussions consisting of 8 plenary and 20 thematic parallel sessions focussing on climate and sustainability.
The session on LIFE talked about the importance of changing our lifestyles to protect the environment, emphasising learning from different fields and changing behaviours. The crucial role of new sustainability ventures that focus on practical solutions, creating value, and working together was another important session. One of the more sought-after sessions, VIRAM- Agenda Sustainability moderated by Mr. Rajdeep Sardesai, Consulting Editor and Anchor, India Today, saw a passionate discussion on the role of education in population, climate action, and sustainable development. A conclave on sustainable thought leadership stressed the need for leaders who think from the heart as an answer to the crisis of thoughtful leadership and emphasised practical knowledge.
Education, specifically pedagogy, was a major focus of the conference and discussed the urgent need to include ecosystem restoration education in syllabuses worldwide and the importance of practical knowledge, ‘students’ role in mass participation and enhanced collaboration. There was also a spotlight on successful programs like the Namami Gange Program that received global recognition for its holistic approach to ecosystem revival.
A notable session explored the role of science, technology, and innovation in leading a sustainable life, with discussions on various initiatives, such as Google’s Project Sunroof which helps individuals estimate their savings via rooftop “solar power”. Other sessions focused on citizen science, engaging communities for a sustainable future, and environmental education and advocacy to address plastic pollution.
The common recommendation of all the sessions was the role of education in achieving sustainability. Integrating environmental themes into regular studies and engaging communities informally was seen as a way to bring about positive change. The importance of grassroots efforts in green entrepreneurship was also emphasised, with discussions on exploring new markets and focusing on fundraising within the climate sector.
The Conference reached its culmination with closing ceremony, wherein Mr. Pradip Burman, Chairman of the Mobius Foundation, ardently advocated for initiating decisive, tangible actions directed at environmental conservation, prioritising them before delving into the intricacies of long-term sustainability. He also highlighted several projects that work in tandem with nature, focusing on ecological balance and conservation. Other esteemed panelists, including Ms. Bethany Davies, Research Fellow at ACER, Australia; Ms. Abimbola Junaid, Partnerships, Advocacy, and Voice Manager at Population Matters; Mr. Sanjay Awasthi, Head of Office at IOM, UN Migration; Ms. Gayatri Raghwa, Environment Education Expert at UNEP-India; Mr. Bhavesh Swami, Lead – Clean Energy Policy and Engagements at The Climate Reality Project; and Mr. Praveen Garg, President of the Mobius Foundation, emphasised on the imperative of united efforts, ecological awareness, and multifaceted strategies, involving diverse stakeholders, to confront environmental dilemmas, acknowledging the significant influence of migration and private sectors in realising sustainability objectives in harmony with the 2030 agenda. Dr. Ram Boojh, CEO Mobius Foundation extended heartfelt thanks to all dignitaries, emphasising the importance of sharing learned knowledge. He reiterated that the goal is to educate, and action and demonstration are powerful means to do so.
The conference made a clarion call for climate action and sustainability, marking a significant step forward in the journey towards a sustainable and resilient future.