An RCE is a network of existing formal, non-formal and informal organisations that facilitate learning towards sustainable development in local and regional communities. A network of RCEs worldwide will constitute the Global Learning Space for Sustainable Development. An RCE should have four core elements:
Governance - addressing issues of RCE management and leadership
Collaboration - addressing the engagement of actors from all levels of formal, non-formal and informal education
Research and development - addressing the role of research and its inclusion in RCE activities, as well as contributing to the design of strategies for collaborative activities, including those with other RCEs.
Transformative education - contributing to the transformation of the current education and training systems to satisfy ambitions of the region regarding sustainable living and livelihood
RCEs aspire to translate global objectives into the context of the local communities in which they operate. Upon the completion of the DESD in 2014, RCEs are committed to further generating, accelerating and mainstreaming ESD by implementing the Global Action Programme (GAP) on ESD, and contributing to the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The planet faces a number of sustainability challenges, from climate change and the rapid extinction of species to the necessary modification of our consumption patterns. International platforms exist to tackle each of these issues: the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) mission is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally, keeping in mind action need to happen at the local level; the 10 Year Framework Programme on Sustainable Consumption and Production (10YFP on SCP) which is examining ways how consumer behaviour and industrial production patterns can shift towards a more sustainable use of the planet’s resources; and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) as well as the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), both platforms bring scientists and policy makers together in a mission to protect the world’s biota.
Each of these global platforms needs to be implemented at a local level. With their official links to UN agencies, formal education institutions, and informal educators worldwide, RCEs are in an ideal position to do just that. The RCE network brings together multi-sectoral and interdisciplinary members who might not usually work together. As such, they are uniquely placed to help create solutions to sustainability challenges through dialogue, education and learning. They are highly influential policy advocates, able to test policies individually and work collectively to bring policy to scale and advice on future actions.
Through these efforts, RCEs help prepare local leaders of tomorrow with the tools and information they need to make smart and sustainable choices for the future. RCE efforts encourage innovation and new approaches to sustainable development. They translate existing knowledge into concrete actions and empower individuals to make sustainable choices for themselves and their communities.
The success each RCE achieves on the local level is brought to scale through the global RCE Network worldwide. Local knowledge, expertise, and best practices are shared globally through the network and can be adapted and applied successfully in other regions. RCEs also play a central role in the transfer of global technologies, knowledge, and experiences at the local level through their programmes and activities.