UN highlights mobility and sustainable development

The United Nations designated 2005 to 2014 as the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD). Following themes like Water, City, and Food, the theme of this year’s UN und UNESCO’s sustainable development education program is Mobility.[1] The goal of this year’s theme is to educate people around the world on the importance of sustainable transportation in order to provide opportunities to future generations.

Modernisation means Mobilisation

At the ninth roundtable of the DESD, Professor Hartmut Rosa who is teaching at the University of Jena in Germany noted three distinctive features of mobilisation today: technical advancements, the acceleration of social change, and the quickening of our life tempo, all being closely linked. People have less time despite or perhaps precisely because of all this technical progress. Simultaneously technical developments cause a faster life tempo and social change due to shorter product and technology lifecycles. Thus people have to adapt their life tempo which again causes further technical advancements. With this modernisation come modern mobility challenges. While people today are more mobile than ever, a mobility crisis is looming on the horizon as people flock to new megacities, developing countries cultivate their desire for automobiles, transportation becomes more expensive, and valuable natural resources like crude oil and lithium dwindle.[2] The UN has recognized these problems and wants to bring them as topics into public discourse while raising a call to action among countries and cities around the world.

Education Programs

Several examples of the UN’s educational projects can be found in Germany. The Frankfurter AllgemeineZeitung is sponsoring a research project for students under the title and theme “Sustainable Air Transportation.” The project encourages students to research what possibilities exist to make air transportation more sustainable. The students will compile journalistic pieces, slideshow presentations, and websites after researching the complex problems and aspects of air transportation like environmental damage, travel freedom, business dealings, noise pollution, and technical advancements.[3] Another project in Freiburg, Germany, encourages students at three local schools to learn about climate change while also questioning their everyday consumption and transportation habits. Through excursions, meetings with experts, trade fair visits, and classroom work, students will put together comprehensive presentations on the effects of transportation on the environment and suggest possible solutions to sustainability challenges.[4]

Mobility for the future

By educating today’s youth, the UN’s DESD will bring today and tomorrow’s mobility challenges to the forefront of the discussion on sustainable development; and hopefully, thereby, it will arm an entire generation with the tools and know-how to deal with our modern mobility challenges.

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