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Socio-Ecological Transformation and Sustainability - Themes highlighted in Bad Boll, Germany

On May 3rd and 4th, the consortium of the European project “Re:Thinking Global!”, of which AIDGLOBAL is a member, met for the second coordination meeting and to take part in the seminar “Imperial Way of Life and the European Green Pact”, at the headquarters of the Evangelische Akademie, in Bad Boll, Germany.
The partners' meeting, which took place on May 3rd, aimed to jointly reflect on and debate the impact of Climate Change on the environment and today's society, from an economic and sociological perspective, with a view to a socio-ecological transformation of Education for Sustainable Development and ensuring greater access to Global Learning.

During the session, Johannes Jäger, PhD professor, researcher and director of the economics department at the BFI University of Applied Sciences in Vienna, and Anne Tittor, PhD professor and researcher at the Jena Institute of Sociology at Friedrich Schiller University in Germany, gave brief presentations on proposals for sustainability, highlighting the European Green Deal. The discussions, inspired by different schools of thought, included Ronald Coase's neoliberal view on the efficiency of markets with state rules, Robert Costanza and Serge Latouche's perspective on state regulation for a green capitalism and John B. Foster's critical view, which advocates social transformations to solve the problems of profit and capital accumulation.  

Considering that the prospects for eco-social transformation are still marginalized, the socio-ecological conflicts and challenges vary between the Global North and South, with different consequences and priorities in terms of energy projects and local impacts. The need for collective and united change, without blame, to move towards a sustainable and just future was highlighted.

And for this to be effective, one of the ways is to mobilize and raise awareness of Environmental Education among young people from an early age, promoting values and changing attitudes that benefit the environment, in order to prepare them for conscious and informed citizenship in the face of the ecological crisis, enabling them to address global crises, understand inequalities in the use of natural resources, especially in the Global North, and explore paths to sustainability.

What contribution can education make in this area? Can we communicate global challenges and the complex interconnections between our way of life and the living conditions of people and the environment in other geographical spaces? Are we in the midst of an eco-social transformation? But what does it mean and where should we be heading? How do concepts around the European Green Deal (EEP), the imperial way of life and its critique differ from each other, or how do they complement each other? And what implications do they have for our future and how can they be meaningfully incorporated into the educational context?

These were some of the issues addressed at the seminar held on May 4th, from 9:20 a.m. to 3:45 p.m., at the Bad Boll Evangelical Conference Centre, in a face-to-face session with simultaneous translation, with the aim of debating and reflecting on the impacts of Globalization, the proposals of Climate Justice and developing alternative ideas and concepts for the production of future teaching resources that can be adapted and applied to formal and informal education, with a view to promoting Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) on a glocal scale.

The session was opened by Andrés Musacchio, Director of Studies at the Evangelische Akademie Bad Boll (Germany), who welcomed all the speakers, followed by the presentation of each representative of the partner organization and all the guests present. Moderated by Andrés Musacchio, Director of Studies at the Evangelische Akademie Bad Boll (Germany), the program and agenda for the day were presented.

The exhibition “Imperial way of life: Why does global trade lead to unequal opportunities?” was the theme of the meeting's first intervention, led by Johannes Jäger, who addressed the unequal injustices caused by globalization, highlighting the Covid-19 pandemic and the consequences of climate change, which exacerbate the gap between rich and poor. According to the United Nations (UN), more than 10% of the world's population faces severe difficulties in accessing basic resources - health, education, water and sanitation - especially in rural areas, where women and children are most affected.
“A country's economic growth does not guarantee development,” Johannes Jäger added, noting that inequalities are also evident in carbon emissions, where the richest 1% of the world's population emit as much as the poorest 66%. He added.

He also highlighted the explanatory patterns of inequality, including the critique of capitalism and the defense of political and democratic economy, which seeks collective changes in access to natural resources and workers' rights, while liberal strategies focus on individual consumer behavior and public debate.

Anne Tittor then coordinated the panel on “Socio-ecological and economic transformation and globalization: concepts in an educational context” , and stressed the translation of abstract sociological theories into Education and political training, emphasizing Eco-Social-Ecological Transformation as a priority in global sustainability, which requires fewer resources, reduced mobility and long-term thinking; the Southern Ecosocial Pact, which emphasizes impartial relations between countries, such as just transition and green economic growth; the European Green Pact, which aims for carbon neutrality by 2050, despite challenges such as dependence on resources like lithium; and finally, Environmental Justice, which defends the rights of communities against environmental degradation, highlighting the importance of empathy.

From a collaborative perspective, there was room for debate and the aim was to promote dialog between peers around the various spheres of sustainability (economic, social, political and environmental) that should be present in schools, promote solidarity, educate about the urgency of the issue, consider radical transformations and debate sustainable mobility, including the countries of the Global South, without compromising the well-being and natural resources of future generations.

The afternoon was followed by two workshops led by the partner organization, EPiZ - Information Centre for Development Education (Reutlingen, Germany), the first of which was run by Gundula Büker, consultant and board member, and Hans-Werner Schwarz, teacher and project coordinator, with the workshop “Examining the concept in the development of teacher and multiplier competences” and the second by Linda Rebmann-Musacchio, coordinator of the BNE Compass Baden-Württemberg program and Johanna Neuffer, collaborator of the “Education Meets Development” program and the library, with the workshop “Starting points for schools: Ideas for practical implementation in the classroom”. Both sessions included participatory activities and group work.

The event was aimed at ESD/Global Learning/Global Citizenship Education (GCE) actors, multipliers, speakers, teachers and project staff in organizations and was attended by 15 participants, including the project's partner organizations.

In a context of multiple crises, we have to rethink our daily actions in order to adopt more sustainable practices in the process of global transformation fostered in the last decade by climate change and the economic crisis.

The meeting is part of the “Re:Thinking Global!", funded by the European Commission`s Erasmus+ Programme, is promoted by the Evangelische Akademie Bad Boll – Bad Boll Protestant Academy and has as partners AIDGLOBAL – Acção e Integração para o Desenvolvimento GlobalEPiZ Reutlingen – Development Education Information CenterLAI/VHS – DIE WIENER VOLKSHOCHSCHULEN GMBH – Vienna Adult Education Centers and ÖFSE – Austrian Foundation for Development Research.