Regional Sustainability Network Receives Two United Nations University RCE Awards

Staff Report From Metro Atlanta CEO

Tuesday, February 4th, 2020

RCE Greater Atlanta, a regional sustainability network officially acknowledged by the United Nations University, was among the recipients of the eighth RCE Awards, which celebrate projects and programs on Education for Sustainable Development within the United Nations University Global RCE Network. RCEs, or Regional Centers of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development, support implementation of the U.N. sustainable development goals (SDGs) at the regional level through education and training. The RCE Greater Atlanta multi-stakeholder network was launched in 2017 and continues to be led by Emory University, Georgia Institute of Technology, and Spelman College. It is one of 174 RCEs across the world and eight in the U.S.

The first RCE Greater Atlanta award went to the Environmental Justice Academy (EJA), co-sponsored by three RCE Greater Atlanta members: Atlanta Metropolitan State College (AMSC), the Center for Sustainable Communities, and EPA Region 4. The project was designated an Outstanding Flagship Project for SDG 16 – Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions. Funded in part by a grant from the Turner Foundation, the EJA is a leadership development program for community leaders, students, and faculty, whose primary goal is to help communities increase their capacity to address environmental challenges. With a cohort of over 20 participants from across the Southeast, the 2019 Academy was a three-day classroom session held March 28-30, 2019, at the AMSC campus, followed by a one-month online course and student capstone project. The curriculum included leadership development and community advocacy skills instruction, and incorporated lessons on the EcoDistricts model for district-scale community revitalization, UN SDGs, and recent success stories from advocacy groups seeking equitable and sustainable improvements for their communities.

The second RCE Greater Atlanta award went to the RCE Greater Atlanta Track hosted at the April 2019 Atlanta Global Studies Symposium at Georgia Tech. The project received Honourable Mention for SDG 4 – Quality Education. Hosted annually, the symposium is a signature event of the Atlanta Global Studies Center, a U.S. Department of Education Title VI National Resource Center led by Georgia Tech and Georgia State University. The Track consisted of three sessions that introduced the work of RCE Greater Atlanta and explored university-community collaborations to address sustainability challenges and advance the SDGs. It featured virtual and in-person talks by colleagues from RCE networks in Portland, Oregon; Georgetown, South Carolina; and Hamburg, Germany to allow the Atlanta network to learn from others’ experiences and sow seeds for future collaborations among RCEs.

Announced in December, the RCE Awards recognize outstanding projects that bridge local and global perspectives on sustainable development; engage with transformative learning and research; and contribute to community engagement, research and development, and stakeholder/partner capacity development. Projects across a spectrum of the United Nations’ SDGs and themes were recognized including climate action, sustainable cities and communities, responsible consumption and production, and quality education. Awards were given in three categories: (1) Outstanding Flagship Project, (2) Acknowledged Flagship Project, and (3) Honourable Mention.