Caitlin Wilson - Sustainable Development Network

"Interaction with others who are working towards the same goals but with different perspectives is probably the greatest source of new ideas I ever experience."
Caitlin Wilson - Sustainable Development Network.


In a series of interviews we here by present Caitlin Wilson working for the Sustainable Development network. The term sustainable development became known through the report “Our Common Future” presented in 1987 by the UN World Commission on Environment and Development. It indicates how closely linked environmental, economic and social development are. The main message was that the international community must organize themselves and do what is required to ensure sustainable Development.How can you in your organization / country use the work carried out in 2016 and results of the Education for Sustainable Development network activities?

Landvernd, the Icelandic Environment Association, is an environmental NGO that works with adult education both informally through public education and formally through supporting teachers in the Green Flag/Eco-Schools program. As such, we play a mediating role to a rather large audience. Through the ESD network we gain insight into what our Nordic neighbors are doing with respect to sustainability and education and, not least, how they are doing it. In turn, we take that experience and spread it among our networks. For example, during the Nordic course on adult education for sustainable development and at the Symposium on sustainability and education (both activities of the ESD network) we tried out the circle method for stimulating communication and collaboration, and then took it and used it at our national meetings with the Green Flag/Eco-Schools teachers, who found it to be quite inspiring and many said they would use it themselves.

What do you think is the network's most important focus in 2016?

The network has been gaining attention and momentum through the Nordic course on adult education for sustainable development, and I think it is due to the transformative methods used. With important landmarks like the UNESCO Global Action Programme, the new UN sustainable development goals and the signing of the Paris Agreement on climate change by 175 nations, people are realizing the urgency of sustainable development and the important role education plays in sustainable development. The ESD network has valuable experience to share in highly effective, transformative methods that are needed now.

Networking is a special way of working, what in your opinion are the benefits and challenges of networking?

Networking is a very human thing, and as most human things are, it can be a great pleasure and a great frustration. Interaction with others who are working towards the same goals but with different perspectives is probably the greatest source of new ideas I ever experience. What is frustrating is making connections through our network but then returning home and going through withdrawal! Not to mention it is not very sustainable to fly frequently. This is why I think the face-to-face meetings are critical to establish the human connection, but then we have to be more creative about keeping up afterwards.