Greater Burlington Area to Host 8th Annual Gathering of the Americas

Greater Burlington area selected by the United Nations University as host  for meeting of the South, Central, and North America Centres of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development from September 22 - 25, 2019

(Burlington, VT) September 20, 2019.  Delegates from Regional Centres of Expertise (RCEs) on Education for Sustainable Development from across South, Central, and North America will be attending the 8th Gathering of the Americas RCE meeting in Burlington September 22-25, hosted by the Greater Burlington Sustainability Education Network (GBSEN).   This meeting provides delegates the opportunity for discussion, networking, and sharing of knowledge as they work to achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs) in their regions.

Hosting this international gathering in collaboration with the United Nations marks an unprecedented opportunity to highlight the Greater Burlington region’s work in Education for Sustainability.  The agenda includes a program that explores a range of innovative sustainability initiatives currently taking place in the city and region and that serve as inspiring stories for learning.

Thirty seven delegates from 11 RCEs across South, Central, and North America are attending the meeting. The honor of hosting the Americas meeting alternates between the northern and southern hemispheres, with the previous three meetings taking place in Posadas AR, Vancouver BC, and Curitiba BR.  Elements of the meeting will take place at Rock Point Center, UVM, Shelburne Farms, and in the City of Burlington. The theme of this year’s meeting is Human Health and the Environment.  

“Shelburne Farms is part of an international network of educators working to transform education, and this meeting is a wonderful opportunity for us to highlight the education for sustainability work we’re doing locally and to learn from others around the world,” said Megan Camp, Vice President of Shelburne Farms.  

A public forum featuring the integration of Climate Action and Health & Well-being will take place at UVM’s Davis Center on the evening of Monday, September 23 at 7:30 PM, the same day as the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York City. In the Monday evening session, titled Mobilizing Climate Action for Health, panelists will share stories of how they are fighting to protect human health in the face of a warming planet.  There will then be a discussion of how to work on behaviors, policies, and actions for systemic change. Join local neighbors as well as international delegates from North, Central, and South America for a unique opportunity to think both locally and globally, and to learn from one another.  Panelists include Adriana Gonzalez, an environmental justice organizer working in Puerto Rico, Dan Quinlan, Vermont Climate & Health Alliance and Bindu Panikker, UVM Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources. (Registration is recommended for this session. Register online at www.gbsen.org.) 

“Sustainability is at the heart of UVM’s educational mission. Not only do all undergraduates take a course in sustainability, but faculty members participate in a year-long faculty fellows program as they develop sustainability courses in collaboration with community partners,” said Walter Polman, Director of Ecological Planning Program for the University of Vermont’s Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources.

In 2014, Vermont’s Greater Burlington Region received official designation as a Regional Centre of Expertise (RCE) on Education for Sustainable Development by the United Nations University Institute for Advanced Studies of Sustainability. The region, which includes the Vermont portion of the Lake Champlain Basin, is one of 168 RCEs worldwide, and one of only five in the United States. A network of worldwide RCEs aspire to achieve the goals of the Global Action Programme for Sustainable Development by translating its global objectives into the context of the local communities.

As an RCE, GBSEN networks with and learns from other RCEs around the world that are documenting promising practices in education for sustainability. The University of Vermont and Shelburne Farms co-coordinated the effort to create a Greater Burlington RCE multi-stakeholder network of educators, NGOs, government, business leaders, students, faith groups, and community members. 


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