Cities and Universities’ Networks for the Sustainable Development Implementation


It is about to begin in Manchester, UK, in a few days, the “2nd WORLD SYMPOSIUM ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AT UNIVERSITIES (WSSD-U-2014),” a self-managed event and following the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio + 20). The event is organized by the Manchester Metropolitan University (UK) and the Research and Transfer Centre “Applications of Life Sciences” of the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (Germany), in cooperation with the National United University Initiative “Regional Centers of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development “(RCE).
The Workshop will be one of the last events of the UN Decade on Education for Sustainable Development. There will be delegates from around the world and me too, and I will be attending with a paper and a poster about the city of Venice.
The opportunity to talk about Venice is appreciated because this town hosts an international network of Universities, the Venice International University (VIU), whose interdisciplinary approach is making a strong contribution to the implementation of sustainable development, through research and education. The paper will present the experience that is covered by two important Universities’ network in Italy. The first is the already mentioned network of the Venice International University, in partnership with some major universities in the world and US; the second one is UNISCAPE, based in Florence, a Consortium of 52 European Universities to implement the European Landscape Convention.
In Manchester, I would be glad to discuss on the education for sustainable development (ESD) in a globalized world, in Venice, but also in Florence with Uniscape, as it is identified with the work that these networks are conducting to implement, in the academic curricula, a suitable education for the sustainable development. What future directions will be? What priorities will be for developing capacity building among these actors and stakeholders, in the transformation between the disciplines? If you are not in Manchester, but anyway you always can read the publication for the types of Springer edition, I’ll try to give you a preview. Difficulties are recognized, by the most authoritative experts and decision makers, encountering in the practice a equitable and sustainable development. As a result, the education, which generates awareness and change-behavior, is considered a priority to implement an effective management of natural and cultural resources. The 2004 has been the first year of the decade on the education for the sustainable development (ESD), promulgated by UNESCO, in which the universities have acquired the role of “agents of change,” in relation to the regional socioeconomic development, as in the case of Venice.
The VIU was founded in 1995 by the Province of Venice, CA’ Foscari and IUAV University with other international partner universities. The VIU University nowadays is very vital for the Venice town and community. Today the network has joined more than 15 partners offering courses on SD.
For many years, institutional stakeholders have discussed what could be the cultural offer of Venice for the future of tourism and its inhabitants, but it is very difficult to predict whether the city of Venice will survive to 22 million tourists, which each year come from all the world. The problem is not only the mass tourism, but also the pollution and the steady loss of population. For decades now, the inhabitants of Venice abandon their homes and the city, despite the recent incentive’s policies. Realities as those of the VIU are a way to compare the environmental and cultural issues, common to different cities around the world, in a global and local perspective together. In addition, these courses on sustainable development are open to the world of local businesses that seek to incorporate the principles of ecology into the management. A new type of relational economy is born, in which universities can influence and affect the production processes, by networking and exchanging research and experiences between them and territories. When the decade is definitively concluded, we will be able to pull the initial assessments and propose new initiatives, so it is good to be present, because it is a process that has only now begun.


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