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Number: 67
Year: 1999
Author: Eloísa Trellez Solís and Gustavo Wilches Chaux
Title: Education for a Sustainable Future in the Americas


Since 1972, governments in the hemisphere have assumed numerous commitments designed to encourage sustainable development. If we argue, however, that efforts must be made to pursue equitable and sustainable development while maintaining a harmonious relationship between society and the natural environment, then we must admit that the achievements related to these commitments are still precarious. Clearly, for many years, we have dedicated ourselves to reinventing or repeating things already said or done while disparaging experiences and ignoring the advances achieved. Although much remains to be accomplished, we should not continue to assume that we must start from the beginning and rediscover the already discovered, instead of reinforcing previous achievements and building upon them.

Accordingly, we believe it worthwhile to retrace our steps and identify the major commitments made since 1972. In that year, the United Nations convened the first world conference on the Human Environment in order to address the serious concern arising from the increasingly contradictory relation between the natural environment and human beings. In this chapter, we therefore examine the advances achieved since then, many of which the OAS, UNESCO and UNEP have actively supported, as well as the obstacles encountered. The analysis brings us to the more recent commitments assumed by governments, which constitute the framework for initiating the construction of a more sustainable society in the Americas.