This think-piece aims to raise the level of debate about education for sustainability, and to stimulate effective action so that New Zealanders can learn to live in sustainable ways. It highlights how education, in its broadest sense, needs to bring about a 'sea change' (a transformation) for the better. This will require a shift in perception and understanding among many people and organisations.
This century may well be one of re-learning on a grand scale. We need to learn why it is important to live within nature's limits, and to understand the many factors that contribute to unsustainable practices and lifestyles. This learning needs to be deeply embedded in all our formal and informal education streams, and to be a core part of learning across society. Is such a sea change in learning likely? Yes, because the first lappings of the turning tide are already with us, as the report outlines.
Progress towards better ways of living needs to be deeply social, cultural, philosophical and political - not simply a technical or economic process. Technical and economic mechanisms will certainly be key elements. However, they will not come into play unless we, as a society, are prepared to openly and honestly debate the ways that our desired qualities of life can be met.
There will be much heated debate. Deeply held beliefs about our social and economic systems and the sustainability of our lifestyles need to be challenged. Nonetheless, when a wave of change begins to swell, the quantum and speed of transformation can be dramatic.