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Sustainable Development

The aim of these pages are to provide resources to support research and practical innovations in Sustainable Development for the early years of education. While it is intended that the site should ultimately be developed to share good practice in this area, at this early stage of development a priority has been given to providing a resource database: If we are to support each other in the identification and development of good practices then it may be important to begin by supporting each other in finding common definitions, and in the development of theoretical foundations for the subject. Any/all contributions to this end are welcomed and should be forwarded along with any comments and constructive critique of these pages to me at:

The United Nations 2005 World Summit Outcome Document, refers to the "interdependent and mutually reinforcing pillars" of sustainable development as social development, economic development, and environmental protection.

The challenge for educators is to develop educational systems, curriculum and pedagogic practices that are sustainable in terms of each of these pillars. It is also important to understand that sustainable developments are supported by three pillars that are integrated and must act together, and that any practices and policies developed without taking each into account are likely to fail. From the perspective of sustainable development the most efficient or effective environmental, economic or social strategy may not be the most sustainable.

Many authorities see good governance as another critically important component that might be considered an additional 'pillar' for sustainable development. From an early childhood education perspective these concern may be realised through the encouragement of more participation by the local community, families and the children themselves in developing the curriculum.

The choices that we make in any one area may need to be moderated by the other two. To take a concrete example, in an area of water shortage the most environmentally sophisticated, ‘state of the art’ water treatment plant might not be practical especially if it required costly or highly skilled regular maintenance. In this case a more appropriate (even if less ‘green’ or even 'effective') technology capable of being supplied and/or maintained by the local community might be more sustainable and save lives. A classic example of this is provided by the introduction of cloth filters in Bangladesh.

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