One of the ‘flagship’-projects supported by the Institute concerns the Regionaal Centrum van Expertise (Regional Centre for Expertise) regarding Education for Sustainable Development on the Southern Bight: Flanders, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, South England (in particular Kent and Sussex), and Zeeland. More information can be found on the website www.rce-sns.org, and is referred to here.

In response to the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD), the United Nations University (UNU) called for the development of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) networks for the promotion of ESD, as well as being expertise centres for the research development of ESD. This was the birth of Regional Centres of Expertise for the education of sustainable development (RCEs) which are reviewed and promoted through the Ubantu Alliance.

RCEs aspire to achieve the goals of the DESD by translating its global objectives into the context of the local communities in which they operate. This is then accomplished by acting as a catalyst for institutions that promote ESD through formal, non-formal and informal education, and by providing suitable platforms to share information and experiences and to promote dialogue among regional stakeholders through partnerships for sustainable development. They also develop regional knowledge bases to support ESD and promote its goals in a resource effective manner. This can be achieved through the delivery of training programmes, by facilitating research into ESD, through public awareness raising, and by increasing the quality and access to ESD in the region.

RCEs are not only significant for the region itself, where they provide a unique opportunity to promote learning and development for SD, but also important at international level where they help to constitute the Global Learning Space for Sustainable Development. Globally, RCEs are facilitated through the United Nations University Institute for Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS), who provide a framework for strategy, best practice and techniques for success, which can then be translated to the regional level.

After years (2007-2011) of having fed  the RCE-SNS from the perspective of  ‘higher education’, with the foundation of the Institute, the decision was taken to support the RCE-SNS  with research activities and other efforts in the field of education.