SDGs, Human Development Report, Laudato Si’, DRR and building back better

Seeking and finding occasions for hope is a key focus of around 30 graduate students from different countries in Asia who are taking a course on human development and natural resource management that ESSC is teaching for three weeks from 17 July to 4 August 2017.

This is a capstone course for the Asian Peacebuilders Scholarship (APS) dual degree program between the UN-mandated University for Peace in Costa Rica and the Department of Political Science of the Ateneo de Manila University, with support from the Nippon Foundation.

Under the guidance and facilitation of Pedro Walpole, ESSC Research Director, students discuss sustainable development in a context of local and global instability in societies where grievances and injustice remain unresolved, in a changing environment that is compromised by unsustainable relations with land and water, in failed economic systems that are not enabling the many who are poor, in the political decisions being made, among others.

Global development efforts are key references such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the 2016 UNDP Human Development Report,  and the encyclical Laudato Si’  by Pope Francis who provided a key input when the SDGs were launched in the UN in New York in September 2015, emphasizing the migration situation and the need to address this concern globally.

Morning and afternoon sessions are held at the ESSC conference room for the first and third weeks. The second week will bring the students to a field learning visit in ESSC’s work areas Leyte and Eastern Samar in the eastern Visayas region in the Philippines.

For the field visit, the intention is to provide APS students with a broader understanding of post-disaster efforts in reconstruction and building back better by local governments and communities. In particular, this activity is a learning opportunity as the students visit relocation sites for post-Haiyan survivors and directly engage with people and communities who survived the impacts of flooding, storm surge, and landslides and are taking action so that they are better prepared for extreme events. In all this, the students are expected to listen to the people they meet and reflect on what is shared, including people’s expressions and feelings, and to always note where there are signs or occasions of hope.

Since 2010, this ESSC-taught course has sought to challenge APS students’ understanding of global efforts in sustainable development and where these are relating or not relating to local realities and the pursuit of quality human development in Asia. More importantly, the course consistently seeks to provide an opportunity for these future peace and development workers to reflect, analyze, and understand better their personal commitments as they make decisions in their personal and professional lives.

We also share some related stories on ESSC engagements with APS in 2016, in 2013, in 2012, and in 2011.

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This article is first published on ESSC in July 2017.

ESSC holds field-based course on human development and natural resource management

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