The 2nd European Congress on Global Education, entitled “Education, Interdependence and Solidarity in a Changing World”, was held on 27 and 28 September. It was organised by the North-South Centre of the Council of Europe (NSC) in association with the multi-stakeholder network “Global Education Network Europe” (GENE), with CONCORD (a European NGDO platform), Camões, the Portuguese Institute of Cooperation and Language, the Portuguese NGDO platform and the Universidade de Lisboa; The European Commission provided funding for the congress.

The congress addressed the key aspects of global education, interdependence and solidarity. Over the course of the two days, ideas and practices regarding these topics were exchanged. The congress brought together around 200 global education stakeholders: government representatives, local and regional authorities, civil society organisations and teachers from around the world to address the challenges addressed at the congress in a holistic and interdisciplinary manner. The final outcome was the Lisbon Statement (2012), intended to be the road map to the Maastricht Congress (2015), where the results obtained during this period will be assessed.

From Maastricht 2002…
In 2002 the 1st European Congress on Global Education was held. The Maastricht Congress highlighted the importance of Global Education and saw the creation of a strategy that permitted the concepts and content of Global Education to be developed from different areas. Since then, the pedagogy of Global Education has been enriched, thanks not only to research and teaching practice but also to the many professionals who have, through different areas and fields, implemented this method in an interdisciplinary fashion in the fields of development education, human rights, interculturality, peace education and conflict resolution, and human and sustainable development.

Among the main outcomes of the 1st Congress on Global Education we can highlight:

•The passing of an institutional declaration, establishing the importance of Global Education in Europe and its strategic role in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
•A common framework on Global Education in Europe was established, stating the importance thereof and the need for it to be included in global agendas for poverty eradication, social cohesion and sustainable development.
•This common framework highlighted the need to develop Global Education from a multi-stakeholder perspective, represented by international bodies and institutions, government members and parliamentarians, local and regional authorities, civil society, educators and academic and research institutions.
•A consensus was reached on the use of the term Global Education. It was deemed a term broad enough to encompass networks and interests and the desire to further the conceptualisation thereof.
•A commitment was made to integrate a rights-based approach to Global Education.
•The benefit of subjecting the processes carried out in Europe to a peer review system for the commissioning of Global Education Strategies was established.

To Lisbon 2012
In the context of the current international financial crisis, a demand crisis, the increase in national austerity measures and the obvious negative social impact thereof are a hotbed for an increase in xenophobic reactions and nationalist attitudes; therefore, there is an increasing awareness of the need to implement educational policies that promote the global perspective of those educating and include topics such as global development, interdependence and solidarity in this educational process
This awareness has grown in recent years; however, as the North-South Centre indicated in the documentation inviting stakeholders to the Congress: “we must strengthen and search for mechanisms that support and foster global education. A global education in which not only the international organisations, governments and civil society have a key role to play, but also the ministries responsible for education, development and the environment, as well as development agencies and the NGDOs, national syllabus development agencies, educational support frameworks, teachers and educators.”

The 2nd European Congress on Global Education, entitled “Education, Interdependence and Solidarity in a Changing World”, provided a space for reflection and dialogue regarding how to strengthen the existing frameworks and procedures and develop new mechanisms to support global education.

The Congress had two main goals:
•To assess the development and progress of global education over the last ten years (2002-2012), since the Maastricht Declaration was approved, and
•To guarantee the commitment to the support required to strengthen and develop Global Development up to 2015 and beyond.
In order to do so the Congress promoted a multi-stakeholder dialogue, facilitating reflection and understanding and an exchange of learning experiences regarding global education policy and practice among international agencies, institutions, governments, parliamentarians, local and regional authorities, civil society, society organisations, educators and academic and research institutions.

The Congress’ conceptual basis and programme were developed by means of an open and participatory consultation process during the first half of 2012. This process was promoted by the organisers and collaborators but also featured a wider consultation group that included representatives of different stakeholders and from different countries.
The general programme was divided in two sections: the first part dealt with the ten years that had passed since 2002, attempting to emphasise the developments in Global Education since the first congress, the main challenges thereof and the need to adopt a common perspective regarding what we understand global education to mean, and the second part, which established the commitments and strategic recommendations for 2015. The commitments and strategic recommendations were discussed in 5 thematic areas: national strategy development and implementation; curricular reform and education at national and local levels; development and fostering of skills related to global education in educators; quality support and monitoring of global education and lastly, global education campaigns and outreach.

The main conclusions reached in each of the groups were as follows:
Group 1 National strategy development and implementation: This group addressed how successful Development Education policy experiences had been set in motion based on the development of national strategies. Among the problems encountered, the ambiguity of the Global Education concept was highlighted. While it had been a valid hypernym, there is currently a variety of approaches and emphases used between and within the different countries. The need to train political decision-makers in Global Education, develop these perspectives in both formal and non-formal education, promote leadership, coherence and coordination between the different stakeholders involved and provide governments with human and financial resources for them to be put into practice was highlighted.

Group 2 Curricular reform and education at nation
al and local levels: The participants in this group discussed the hurdles faced in gaining recognition for Global Education in a landscape dominated by a market-oriented educational approach, the desire to make this knowledge part of the mainstream, alongside the difficulties in doing so. They shared the possibility some States offer through curricular reforms, and also the limitations of reducing Global Education to optional and not core subjects, the difficulty of participation, communication and coordination between the various stakeholders and the existing limitations in assessing educational processes, which are complicated further when developing the key aspects of global education.

Group 3 Development and fostering of skills related to global education in educators: The limited and ambiguous nature of the Global Education concept was also discussed in this group, above all with regard to the difficulty this ambiguity entails when training future teachers and the recognition of this knowledge as an achievement in their professional career. If the concept and the goals of Global Education are ambiguous and not particularly clear, the knowledge, skills and aptitudes that future educators must develop will also share the same characteristics. The key concept of “who” we understand the educator to be was also discussed, given that we did not want to restrict the debate to formal education but also to include non-formal education and informal education, and other educators such as families and peers (in the case of youngsters).

With regard to the promotion of skills, on the one hand the need to clearly define the key competences required to foster Global Education was highlighted, while on the other, the need to develop these competences using an open approach geared towards transformational and educational processes was also highlighted. The key competences highlighted were deep/active listening, empathetic communication, reflection and openness and facilitation and conciliation skills.
Emphasis was also placed on the idea of life-long learning, how continuing professional development mechanisms must exist and support the teaching body and the creation of teacher networks and platforms. (Spain was used as a positive example). Finally, the group addressed the difficulty of assessing teachers and the need to establish performance-assessment criteria based on educational practice.

Group 4 Quality support and monitoring of global education: This group discussed three myths regarding quality and monitoring. The concept of quality varies from one setting to another, and quality standards also vary and are not comparable. Furthermore, when monitoring educational processes, we do so as if they were linear processes (cause and effect) even though they are not. These points were discussed and the participants agreed that the debates on educational quality afford spaces to bring teachers and the political class together. They also agreed on the importance of working together and the possibility that “environment 2.0″ and the existing North-South networks offer to develop and share these concepts.

Group 5 Global Education campaigns and outreach: This final group discussed extensively the role of Global Education campaigns as a tool to spread awareness about Global Education. A positive assessment was made of the efforts to create awareness regarding the current situation faced as a consequence of globalization, but the difficulty of transmitting more complex messages and convincing the citizenship to adopt more committed positions was also highlighted. This difficulty is combined with the fact that in some countries, such as Ireland for example, being awarded public funding is a challenge for this type of campaign due to a fear of the citizens becoming politicised. Other problems that were highlighted included the fact that these campaigns continued to be misinterpreted as fundraising campaigns, intervention of traditional media is increasingly difficult and tends to be limited to the use of celebrities and broadcasting stereotypical messages and finally, in some regions, companies and governments interfere with public media, thus hindering more critical types of messages.

Several opportunities were identified, including new open channels in the network thanks to journalists’ blogs, social activists and youths that use new technologies who have become Global Education activists. Exploring the avenue of environment 2.0 and 3.0 is also a possibility. Discussion also focused on the importance of continuing to explore areas such as sport, science, art and music. The importance of local media as an alternative to general media was stated, and finally the opportunity that major international events such as Rio + 20 or post-MDG afford.

The Congress drew to a close with the establishment of a road map that would allow us to further the Global Education cause leading up to 2015.

A congress of this nature is always positive to see how far we have come and what we still have to achieve. Not many Spanish stakeholders were present, although compared to other meetings of this nature the small group that attended the congress represented all the parties: government, civil society, educators and universities. Furthermore, we were able to split up in order to test and share how far Spain has come over recent years and also outline the fear of progress not continuing. These are difficult times for Development Education in Spain, since although the Spanish Development Education strategy is an accomplishment with regard to the process followed in order for it to be approved and the consensus reached between the different stakeholders, the financial crisis might put an end to the process we have made due to the lack of funds earmarked for Global Education.
In the coming years the concept of Global Education, which in Spain was taken to mean Global Citizenship, will gain more ground, while concurrently we will see development cooperation become less prevalent, its discourse gradually becoming part of the education space. These are significant changes that I hope do not debilitate our discourse, but serve to create ties between sustainable development education and the struggle against poverty and fight for equality.