Cooperation is the key for sustainable development

What participants at the panel discussion about lifelong learning for Agenda 2030, goal 4.7, for the Nordic Network for Adult Learning (NVL) thought must happen, in their context, for enhancing education for sustainable development, November 16th. The word cloud was done in Mentimeter.

I argue that the most important thing to do for enhancing sustainable development is to deepen regional to global cooperation and cooperation between different sustainability projects and networks.

This year several reports have been published about enhancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The global report, the summary of the work in the Nordic countries and the Finnish study have all identified an urgent need for enhancing cooperation among stakeholders (Finnish Prime Minister’s Office, 2020; Sachs et al., 2020; the Nordic Council of Ministers, 2020).

Throughout my career I have worked in networks with the aim to understanding of different fields and topics. In 2010 a study was done about how adult education for sustainable development is enhanced in the Nordic countries. I participated in this study by contributing to finding out how it is enhanced in Finland. The study found that there is a need for new knowledge and attitude changes among adults and in civil society. It also found that there is a need for openness to collaboration across sectors and the ability to accept and develop different learning paths (Nordic Council of Ministers, 2011). Therefore, in 2011 we founded the Nordic Network for Sustainable Development. In this network we developed a Nordic adult education for education for sustainable development (Wilson et al., 2016), which has been held twice; in 2014-2015 and 2016. Twenty participants from different Nordic countries participated in the course. The participants all had a development project they worked with at their workplace. The results from their work can be found here. I learned a lot during these courses. Off the top of my mind, I learned that sustainable development can be enhanced in loads of different ways; by listening and cooperating with people from other fields and cultures new insights and ideas will rise.

Cover page the booklet of the Nordic education for sustainability, published in 2016 (Wilson et al., 2016)

The Nordic Council of Ministers updated its vision in 2019 (Nordic Council of Ministers, 2019). The goal is that “the Nordic region will become the most sustainable and integrated region in the world”. The Nordic strategy emphasizes education, innovation and research as the pillars for the future.

Two weeks ago I held a workshop for Nordic Culture Point NKK and NIVA Education. We started the workshop by reflecting on what already has been done and what ought to be done next for their sustainability work. Then the organizations looked into which of the 17 UN goals for Agenda 2030 they are already enhancing, using the SDG Impact Assessment Tool. As the final task we looked into the draft for the action plan for the Nordic vision. The organizations planned what they will do next, goals for these actions, how they will be followed up and indicators for success. From this I mainly remember that the organizations realized how they can cooperate and help other Nordic organizations in their sustainability work. It was great to have a workshop where the participants met each other in real life instead of online, which we all have been doing so much lately.

Workshop for NIVA Education and Nordic Culture Point NKK on November 11th in Helsinki. Picture: Birgitta Forsström.

Last week I moderated a panel discussion about lifelong learning for Agenda 2030, goal 4.7, for the Nordic Network for Adult Learning (NVL). Target 4.7 states the goal that “by 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education” (UN, 2020). The panel discussion was held online with participants from all Nordic countries, mostly from Denmark and Norway. In the discussion a need for cooperation was emphasized.

This was the third out of three webinars held for adult education for sustainable development, which the Nordic Network for Sustainable Development at the Nordic Network for Adult Learning (NVL) has organized during 2020. Henrika Nordin, coordinator of the network, presented at the webinar a “one-pager” the network developed, which addresses how to become a more sustainable network (The Nordic Network for Adult Learning, 2020). At the workshop I had on November 11th the participants, among others, wondered how to take sustainability aspects into account when organizing courses. As example: how to find sustainable accommodations. After an examination and discussion about the aforementioned one-pager the participants came to an agreement that it was something they could apply to their practices. Maybe also you could apply it?

Wondering about how you could enhance cooperation? Contact me, I would love to help out!

Tove Holm, 23.11.2020


Finnish Prime Minister’s Office, 2020. The Voluntary National Review 2020 Finland. Report on the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  

Sachs, J., Schmidt-Traub, G., Kroll, C., Lafortune, G., Fuller, G., Woelm, F. 2020. The Sustainable Development Goals and COVID-19. Sustainable Development Report 2020. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

The Nordic Council of Ministers, 2011. Kunnskap for Bærekraftig utvikling – en oversikt over tilbud til voksne i Norden

The Nordic Council of Ministers, 2019. The Nordic Region will become the most sustainable and integrated region in the world.

The Nordic Council of Ministers, 2020. The Nordic Matrix, National Action Plans for the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Nordic Network for Adult Learning, 2020. How to become a more sustainable network.

UN, 2020. The Sustainable Development Agenda.

Wilson, C., Holm, T., Paaby, K., Sannum, M., Stavlund, E., 2016. Nordic education for sustainability. NVL Nordvux.

Published by toveholmconsulting

Founder of Tove Holm Consulting. I am a transdisciplinar facilitator for sustainable development. Passions: change leadership, education, Agenda2030, networking & the Baltic Sea. I am a public speaker & PhD.

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