Children and sustainable development: A Challenge for Education - A Workshop of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences at the Vatican City - November 13-15, 2015

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The International workshop entitled, "Children and Sustainable Development: A Challenge for Education" was organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences (PAS) on 13-15 November 2015 at the Vatican City. President ECO Science Foundation (ECOSF) Professor Manzoor Hussain Soomro was member of the International Organizing Committee and participated in the workshop as an invited speaker. Dr. Soomro spoke on, "Ethics and Education in Pakistan- Principles, Policies and Practice". Dr. Soomro's talk generated good discussion on some important issues of global society today and identified the cause into lack of proper basis education especially in poor and marginalized societies and countries. He emphasized on the world to ponder upon the reasons of injustice, disparity and imbalanced distribution of wealth; which in his opinion has led to devastating ills in the global society including radicalism, extremism and terrorism. Dr. Soomro raised the question, whether all human beings were not the children of one God-Allah, Baghwan, Eshwar? Do children have a religion? Do religions teach wrong-doing? And recommended to find out what common point various religions have and to promote inter-faith dialogue to address all issues of all people of God. He also added that Pope Francis has done a historic effort by bringing USA and Cuba together, the Pope can perhaps lead to bring various faiths together in the name of global peace, and the staring common point could be Education of Children. Dr. Soomro also proposed a Science Adviser to each Head of Government and State. He went on to propose a Science Advisor of the Pope, who can take the lead in promotion of Science Education as a Common point for various faiths; drawing guidance from nature, the Biblical and Quranic verses as Qur'an speaks of Knowledge & Learning (education), Science, Technology, Biodiversity, Environment and Research, for which indications have been provided the Qur'an.

The workshop was opened by the President of Pontifical Academy of Sciences (PAS), Professor Werner Arber (Nobel Laureate) while Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, Chancellor of the PAS and Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences (PASS) made a speech with reference to vision of the Pope and objectives of PAS-PASS.

The workshop was organized in context of UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aimed at defining the goals of school education more clearly, making them more manageable and focused, in view of the sustainable development issues, including climate change, which most severely affects the poor as well as to build through education, an inclusive society in which all people can have the resources to develop a life project in harmony with their culture and beliefs, trans-cultural universal values and respect for the environment. So that children can develop an approach open to the others as oneself so that the world, without losing the richness of diversity, can become ever more integrated.

About 60 specialists from all over the world, Chancellor of the PAS and PASS helped to understand the sustainability issues and to examine possible ways to transform education in order to face them. The addressed issues relate to sustainable development in its inseparable dimensions -environmental, economic, and social - and their inter linkages. It drew on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with emphasis on the goals related to education & gender and all aspects of children's well being. A special feature of the Workshop was a whole session by school children from Italy, France, Germany and USA. Children presented in an unusual way their views on the SDGs and rights of children including girls.

Group Photograph of participants and children at the end of the workshop

The workshop closed with adoption of a Declaration comprising consensus recommendations.

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