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Regional Dialogue on the role of education in building a peaceful and sustainable future in Asia-Pacific

Regional Dialogue on the role of education in building a peaceful and sustainable future in Asia-Pacific


The Asia-Pacific region is home to more than 4.4 billion people, or about 60% of the world’s population (ESCAP, 2016). Development gains in Asia and the Pacific have achieved appreciable progress for the last decades. Despite rapid economic growth, social development and technological advances, significant ongoing challenges remain, especially in terms of governance, quality of life and inequality. The region is also characterized by diversity in all aspects – landscape, society, history, culture, religion and ethnicity. Appreciating and nurturing diversity while addressing development challenges will be the key to prosperity, peace and sustainable development in the region.

The Education for All Global Monitoring Report ‘The Hidden Crisis: armed conflict and education’ shows that the Asia-Pacific region faces tension and crises that affect people’s dignity, safety and well-being. The region is globally the most vulnerable to natural disasters. According to the Asia-Pacific Disaster Report 2017, earthquakes, floods and storms have killed 43,000 people on average annually since 1970. Civil and social unrest due to political instability, widening inequalities, and lack of access to equitable and inclusive education affect many countries in the region.

Regional analyses[1] of issues relating to increasing conflict and violence note that conflict and violence affect every country and not just those that we think of as experiencing conflict. These causes are compounded by the rise of hate speech and disinformation on social media and traditional media that often exacerbate hostility between communities and nationalities by reinforcing national propaganda and stereotypes, emphasizing on conflicts and tensions, or reporting in a biased way.

Education is a pathway to peace. Of particular relevance in peace-building are activities on global citizenship education, preventing violent extremism through education, education for sustainable development, intercultural dialogue and freedom of expression, which are developed and delivered in the activities of all sectors. With growing inequality, violence, bullying and discrimination observed in many societies, UNESCO needs to strengthen its purpose and capacity in addressing the non-cognitive domain of learning (i.e. empathy, interpersonal and communication skills, openness to experiences, etc.). Many of UNESCO’s Member States are concerned with the issue of violence and bullying in schools as one of the major obstacles in building the learning environment conducive to the individual development of students.

The goal of UNESCO’s programmes is the development of comprehensive systems of formal and non-formal education, knowledge systems and flow of information that embrace the values of human rights, respect for cultural diversity, and tolerance framed by promoting knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours that reflect and inspire these values.

Peace is not just the absence of conflict. Positive peace is the presence of justice, equity and equality for all in our society, a lasting peace that addresses social and economic disparities and in turn the conflicts and violence associated with exploitation and inequality.

UNESCO values a multidisciplinary approach in addressing the challenges related to positive peace and sustainability to foster in Asia-Pacific through an increased cooperation between all the five Major Programmes. The regional dialogue aims to build a strong platform for UNESCO’s work on building positive peace through SDGs 4 and 16. It will involve Member States, experts and partners in a discussion to explore the opportunities for UNESCO to strengthen workstreams focusing on the role of education in peaceful and sustainable Asia and the Pacific through identifying a few key thematic areas for which UNESCO’s multidisciplinary approach can make a difference.

The regional dialogue is informed by a background paper summarizing UNESCO’s past work, analysis of issues and solutions, and data collection from key stakeholders, as well as the work of the T4P Experts Group, which has examined opportunities to build UNESCO’s work on building positive peace through education and inter-disciplinary programmes.


The regional dialogue will enable UNESCO to develop a focused approach to future initiatives that tackle peace-building through education, including:

  1. Identifying existing elements of UNESCO’s work through which positive peace building can be strengthened, up-scaled and expanded;
  2. Identifying opportunities for new workstreams that strengthening UNESCO’s work on building positive peace through education, including opportunities for intersectorality and partnerships; and
  3. Agreeing a way forward to action these opportunities in 2020.

Expected outputs

Through preparations and the dialogue event, the following outputs will be delivered:

  • Asia-Pacific Highlights 2018-2019 with a focus on UNESCO’s work on peace
  • T4P introductory video
  • Videos of UNESCO’s youth partners and how they work for peace
  • Sharing of national case studies in good practice for building peace through education
  • UNESCO Infographic Series on T4P
  • Silent Manga Audition Exhibition
  • T4P Recommendations: a meeting statement on proposed future work of UNESCO on building positive peace through education and inter-disciplinary programmes

The T4P Recommendations to be adopted following the regional dialogue will be a consolidated regional framework stepping up cooperation and action for building a more peaceful and sustainable society in Asia and the Pacific, including:

  • A Roadmap on UNESCO’s flagship projects on positive peace through a multidisciplinary approach focusing on the role of education
  • A strategy for implementation (including partnership development and financial support mechanism) for T4P.


Bangkok, Thailand and Virtual

Day 1

Day 2

Provisional Agenda

Tuesday, 30 March 2021 – DAY 1

10.00 – 10.30

Waiting Room:

  • Silent Manga Exhibition

10.30 – 11.10

Welcome and Introductions

  • “Positive Peace on a Fragile Planet: UNESCO’s T4P Initiative” (video)
  • Opening Remarks: Shigeru Aoyagi - Director, UNESCO Regional Bureau for Education in Asia and the Pacific
  • UNESCO Deputy Director-General’s Message: Mr Xing Qu
  • Welcome Remarks: H.E. Khunying Kalaya Sophonpanich, Deputy Minister of Education, Ministry of Education, Thailand
  • Welcome Message: H.E. Kazuya Nashida - Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to the Kingdom of Thailand
  • Message from Kailash Satyarthi – Nobel Peace Prize laureate and founder of the Kailash Satyarthi Children's Foundation

Moderator: Aiko Doden - NHK WORLD-JAPAN

11.10 – 11.45

Keynote 1 “Education, Happiness and Peace”
H. E. Lyonpo Jai Bir Rai, Minister of Education of Bhutan
Moderator: Aiko Doden - NHK WORLD-JAPAN

11.45 – 11.50

UNESCO-ABU Media Peace Awards

  • Dr Javad Motthagi – Secretary-General, Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union

Moderator: Shigeru Aoyagi - Director

11.50 – 12.10

Introduction to the T4P Initiative

  • UNESCO’s Work in Building Positive Peace
  • Objectives of the Regional Dialogue
  • Election of Drafting Committee

Moderator: Shigeru Aoyagi - Director

12.10 – 12.45

Plenary Session #1: Good Practices for Positive Peace
“Why and how National Commissions can promote positive peace in the country and beyond”

  • Afghanistan National Commission for UNESCO (TBC)
  • Indonesia National Commission for UNESCO (TBC)
  • Mrs Dutbayeva Anar, Secretary General of the National Commission for UNESCO of the Republic of Kazakhstan
  • Ms Uyanga Sukhbaatar, Secretary-General of Mongolian National Commission for UNESCO
  • Solomon Islands National Commission for UNESCO (TBC)

Moderator: Eric Falt - Director, UNESCO New Delhi

12.45 – 13.25

Working Session #1: Priority Actions for Positive Peace
Moderators: Mr Jordan Naidoo - Director, UNESCO Kabul
Mr Cvetan Cvetkovski - Director, UNESCO Tehran

Theme 1: Transformative Education

  • T4P experts recommendations refresher (5 mins)
  • Webinar summary and Draft Declaration (5 mins)
  • Discussion (30 mins)

Theme 2: Humanity and Nature

  • As above

Theme 3: Living with Superdiversity

  • As above

13.25 – 13.35

Feedback to Plenary
Moderator/Presenter: Sue Vize - UNESCO Bangkok

13.35 – 13.40

Closing Remarks and Next Steps
Shigeru Aoyagi – Director

13.40 – 14.10

Drafting Group Meeting (closed)


Wednesday, 31 March 2021 – DAY 2


10.00 – 10.30

Waiting Room:

  • T4P Youth Videos


10.30 – 10.40

Summary of Day 1

  • Preliminary recommendations from Day 1 Working Sessions (Sue Vize)

Moderator: Mark Manns - UNESCO Bangkok

10.40 – 10.45

Musical Performance
Charlie Winston, Singer-songwriter
“A Light”

10.45 – 11.20

Keynote 2
“Peace and Sustainable Development: How do we operationalize the Delors Report ‘Learning: The Treasure Within’”
Dr Karan Singh, Former Chancellor of the Jawaharlal Nehru University and member of the UNESCO International Commission on Education for the 21st Century
Moderator: Anantha Duraiappah - Director, UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute for Peace and Sustainable Development

11.20 – 12.05

Working Session #2: Regional Priorities and Responses for Building Positive Peace in Asia-Pacific
Moderators: National Commissions

Room 1:

  • Refresher on Day 1 discussions
  • Identify Actions
  • Review draft Declaration

Room 2: as above
Room 3: as above
Room 4: as above

12.05 – 12.20

Feedback to Plenary
Summary of feedback sheets
Moderator: Sue Vize

12.20 – 12.55

Plenary Session #2: Panel Discussion
“Partner Initiatives, Building Collaboration for Positive Peace”

  • “title” – Cecilia Barbieri, Chief of Global Citizenship Education, UNESCO
  • “title” – UNICEF (TBC)
  • “title” - Dr Ethel Valenzuela, Director, Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO)
  • “title” – Cecilia “Thea” Soriano, Asia South Pacific Basic and Ault Education Association (ASPBAE)

Moderator: UNESCO FO

Working Session #3: Drafting Group

  • Revise Outcome Statement

12.55 – 13.05

Plenary Session #3: Presentation and Adoption of T4P Statement

  • Review Outcome Statement
  • Discussions / Revision

Moderator/Presenter: Shigeru Aoyagi - Director

13.05 – 13.10

Closing Remarks

  • Stefania Giannini – AGD/ED, UNESCO
  • Thai National Commission for UNESCO

Moderator: Sue Vize - UNESCO Bangkok


Feedback Survey



[1] The State of Conflict and Violence in Asia (Asia Foundation, 2017) https://asiafoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/The_State_of_Conflict_and_Violence_in_Asia-12.29.17.pdf; Conflict in the Pacific (Oxfam, 2018) https://www.oxfam.org.nz/what-we-do/issues/peace-building-and-conflict-prevention/conflict-in-the-pacific; Strengthening and legitimising institutions to achieve Sustainable Development (IEP, 2019) http://visionofhumanity.org/app/uploads/2019/02/Pacific-Report-2019-web.pdf

Main photo credit: ©Shutterstock/Patrick Foto