11th Global RCE Conference in Cebu

BAR NONE - Atty. Ian Vincent Manticajon - The Freeman

I’m writing this while attending the 11th Global RCE-ESD Conference being held here in Cebu City at the University of the Philippines Cebu from December 7 to 9. RCE-ESD stands for Regional Center of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development.


RCE started as a response to the 2005-2014 UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development wherein under the stewardship of the United Nations University, regional networks of RCEs were formed to promote education for sustainable development.

There are four RCEs in the Philippines and the first RCE in the country was established in Cebu in 2006. RCE Cebu was followed by RCE Ilocos, then by RCE Northern Mindanao, and RCE Bohol. RCE Cebu is hosting this year’s Global RCE Conference. Leading RCE Cebu as president is my neighboring columnist and former college professor, Dr. Maria Rosario Piquero-Ballescas.

I have been part of RCE Cebu since its establishment. If you sometimes catch me writing about climate change and sustainability, it is to RCE Cebu that I owe my credentials on these topics. RCE Cebu is composed of representatives from the academe and non-government organizations who have volunteered their time and have committed the resources of their respective institutions to build a platform for dialogue and collaboration among various stakeholders in the community.

This is not the first time RCE Cebu has hosted an event of this kind. In March 2015, RCE Cebu hosted the 8th Asia-Pacific RCE Conference with the theme “Beyond 2015: Moving Forward.” This year’s event, however, is a bigger conference that assembles over 140 delegates not just from the Asia-Pacific but also from different parts of the globe where 155 RCEs are spread.

The United Nations University as well as the various local conference partners of RCE Cebu deserve credit for helping to make this happen, and if I may mention them; the Cebu City government, Cebu Provincial government, University of the Philippines Cebu, Department of Education-7, Cebu Academe Network, Oceana Philippines, Cebu City Tourism Office, Kyocera, Cebu Parklane Hotel, Salon de Rose, Stella Maris Seafarer’s Center, SM City Cebu, Senator Sonny Angara, and Fely G. Silva.

In regard to the conference theme, “Education for Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)”, the conference views the SDGs as opening diverse entry points for RCEs to tackle sustainable development issues “relevant to their respective regions through education and training at all levels.”

Briefly, the SDGs are: (1) No Poverty, (2) Zero Hunger, (3) Good Health and Well-Being, (4) Quality Education, (5) Gender Equality, (6) Clean Water and Sanitation, (7) Affordable and Clean Energy, (8) Decent Work and Economic Growth, (9) Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, (10) Reduced Inequalities, (11) Sustainable Cities and Communities, (12) Responsible Production and Consumptions, (13) Climate Action, (14) Life Below Water, (15) Life on Land, (16) Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, and (17) Partnerships for the Goals. All these are considered the “world’s best plan to end poverty, reduce inequalities, and tackle climate change.”

The SDGs are big goals that for sure invite diverse and conflicting viewpoints, and most of them would take years or even decades to achieve. But small steps in the form of different kinds of education for sustainable development projects related to SDGs within the global network of RCEs, bring us closer to achieving these goals.

An international conference, if done right, is an occasion to share diverse experiences and case studies, and to contextualize knowledge and understanding on persistent and emerging issues. In the words of conference organizers: “The diversity and scope of the SDGs provide the perfect context for RCEs to synergize and scale up their own activities around.”

Being discussed while I’m writing this is the topic “RCE engagement in national and international sustainability”. Among the interesting topics in the workshop sessions today are “Multi-stakeholders involvement in ESD: How schools can enable a community’s transformation towards sustainability,” and “Teaching the SDGs in a holistic framework”. In the evening, Cebu Governor Hilario Davide Jr. and Vice Governor Agnes Magpale will host a dinner for our local and international guests.

By the way, the other day I volunteered to pick up three delegates from the airport. Such a ride excites me because of the reactions of first-time visitors to the sights they see. We encountered, of course, Cebu’s usual heavy traffic. On an interesting note, a professor from Europe exclaimed: “Oh God there are so many young people here.”

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