Conference on becoming global citizens

ACE Aotearoa conference

ACE Aotearoa held a conference in 2018: Kia Mau, Tāmaua te Aka Matua Becoming Global Citizens.

For keynote presentation videos and notes visit the ACE Aotearoa website.

Award in Global Citizenship Education winners

GCED winners web

The New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO today announced the winners of its inaugural Award in Global Citizenship Education (GCED).

The recipients are: Patea Area School (Education Sector), Generation Zero (Community) and Tiaki Early Learning Centre (Innovation). St Johns College and UN Youth were also highly commended.

Each winner received a certificate and $3000 at a prize giving ceremony and reception at Parliament, hosted by Hon Jenny Salesa, Associate Minister of Education.

“We were delighted by the quality of the applications we received,” says Robyn Baker, Chair of the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO. “It was heartening to read about the outstanding work that is being done across the country to encourage responsible and active global citizenship.”

Patea Area School – Education Sector Award

Each term the school introduces an across school inquiry topic with a local/global challenge focus. Every student in the school chooses an aspect of the inquiry topic based on their area of interest, passion and need. This inquiry work becomes the basis of each students’ personalised learning pathway.

Patea Area School worked to find a learning model that truly embedded global citizenship in the whole school’s curriculum delivery, instead of being a one-off project. This is reflected in the school’s vision statement of ‘Growing good people for a changing world’. The school’s approach is closely aligned with international goals for global citizenship education and the Sustainable Development Goals.

“In 2015, Patea Area School had some of the worst NCEA results in the country,” says Ms Baker. “They also had high suspension rates, low staff morale and a significant disconnection with the local community. The judges were impressed at how the learning model the school introduced has turned the school around and engaged the whole community. The model ensures that everything they do as a learning community is experiential, authentic and connected to the wider world around them.”

Generation Zero – Community Award

Generation Zero developed the Zero Carbon Act blueprint, aimed at creating a thriving, zero carbon future in New Zealand.

The nationwide, youth-led organisation taught themselves and others about policy and government processes, media and communications, public outreach, interpersonal skills, training and supporting volunteers to get involved and upskill as well.

After 18 months of public education and awareness-building about climate change and the benefits of climate law, the new government agreed to create and pass a Zero Carbon Act into law. The work of Generation Zero contributed to this outcome.

“The judges were particularly struck by the strong evidence of impact and its contribution to long-term societal change, as well as the fact that the initiative is youth led,” says Ms Baker. “They were also impressed by the way in which members of Generation Zero are educating volunteers across the country.”

Tiaki Early Learning Centre – Innovation Award

The Centre’s project ‘Te Arohanui o Papatuanuku’ provides opportunities for tamariki aged between three and five to lead by example in their role as Kaitiaki o Papatuanuku – guardians of the land. The young children are encouraged to act as leaders in projects to reduce waste and foster sustainable living practice. This includes picking up litter as they walk through the community, and looking after a section of wetlands in the local area, among other projects.

“The judges were excited by the early learning centre’s approach, which is embedding important values in the tamariki that will likely grow as they get older,” says Ms Baker. “It’s a simple but powerful idea, which adopts innovative use of local knowledge and tikanga.”

The early learning centre is working with the local community to establish and sustain the Tiaki way of being in the world; drawing on Te Whariki, ideas of place-based education, using Nature pedagogy, and enabling the children to take action in areas related to the health of mother earth. They are also providing opportunities for the children to be leaders “through the actions they do every single day”.

About Global Citizenship Education

The New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO’s definition of Global Citizenship Education (GCED) is ‘empowering learners to engage and assume active roles, both locally and globally, to face and resolve global challenges and ultimately to become proactive contributors to a more just, peaceful, tolerant, inclusive, secure and sustainable world’.

GCED is for learners of any ages, from both formal and non-formal settings.

UNESCO’s work in this area is guided by the Education 2030 Agenda and Framework for Action, notably Target 4.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 4 on Education), which calls on countries to: “ensure that all learners are provided with the knowledge and skills to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.”

The judges selected the projects that aligned best with the National Commission’s definition of GCED, as well as Target 4.7. Applicants needed to demonstrate that their project contributes to a significant issue/s at a local, regional or national level. They also needed to provide evidence of their project’s impact on learners’ ability to be active and responsible global citizens.

Interview: UNA NZ and global citizenship


What does global citizenship mean to you?

Global citizenship is not determined merely by the number of languages one speaks, or the number of countries to which one has traveled.

The following are essential elements of global citizenship:

  • The wisdom to perceive the interconnectedness of all life and living.
  • The courage not to fear or deny difference; but to respect and strive to understand people of different cultures, and to grow from encounters with them.
  • The compassion to maintain an imaginative empathy that reaches beyond one's immediate surroundings and extends to those suffering in distant places. 

The recent publication ‘Education for Global Citizenship: A Guide for Schools’ (Oxfam 2015: 5) defines a global citizen as someone who:

  • Is aware of the wider world and has a sense of their own role as a world citizen
  • Respects and values diversity
  • Has an understanding of how the world works economically, politically, socially, culturally, technologically and environmentally
  • Is passionately committed to social justice
  • Participates in the community at a range of levels from the local to the global
  • Works with others to make the world a more equitable and sustainable place.
  • Takes responsibility for their actions. 

In what ways is UNA NZ helping New Zealanders become active and responsible global citizens?

UNA NZ aims to educate New Zealanders about the workings of the United Nations. 

Our Youth Association runs the well-established New Zealand Model United Nations programme, holding events at both national and international levels. By role-playing delegations to the UN, students learn about different countries and the complex interactions between national interests. Several of our Branches also run Model UN programmes.

The Canterbury Branch is developing an education programme on New Zealand and the United Nations to inspire global citizenship in our young New Zealanders and to raise awareness of the UNA and the UN. 

What is one global challenge you would like to bring to the attention of New Zealanders?

We face only two truly existential threats today, climate change and nuclear war. At a recent address to some of our members, Terence O’Brien, former NZ UN Ambassador spoke eloquently of the current challenges we face, and the role of the UN. 

In our world every generation believes, or likes to believe, that it exists at a time of great change. This mentality seems to be an integral part of human nature itself. Right now there are multiple layers of change reverberating around the world which challenge the role and potential of the UN system, and the international legitimacy that the UN embodies. What follows is a brief selective view of some of those layers of change.

Democratic popular choices in the US and in Europe throughout 2016, with more to come, are providing seismic shocks to the landscape of international relations. These occur in a global context where, in addition, the accomplishments of large newly emergent economies plus others, are changing the world’s centre of economic and social gravity; and in the process affecting the international pecking order amongst leading nations.

This is a time too where technology and economics are shrinking the planet, where governments are no longer in control in quite the same ways as in the past , where non-government influence upon international relations is expanding (through single issue advocacy groups or powerful private enterprise) and radicalised violence employing the tactic of terrorism, has achieved global reach.

There are moreover modern threats to security and wellbeing that are appreciably greater than terrorism. These are comprehensive in their nature and impacts - climate change, environmental disfigurement, resource depletion, footloose migration, grave poverty and inequality, the spread of weapons especially of mass destruction all combine to present significant dangers. No one country or group, no matter how powerful, is able to master let alone solve these afflictions; and only one institution, the UN, conceptually possesses the competence and potential for comprehensive appraisal and collective action - across such a range of multiple challenges. 

It is often said that if the UN didn’t exist, someone would invent it. Put simply, issues and problems of a global nature need a global solution.The UN - as an almost universal forum - is the best place for such solutions to be devised. And we do have a plan. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals address the real threats to humanity and the ecosystem and the commitment to meeting the real needs for health, housing, education, social justice 2017 and environmental restoration. 

However, we will often be the first to admit that the UN is not perfect and needs change in order to fulfil its potential. UN renewal is of utmost priority. Therefore our current priorities are to promote community understanding of the UN, and to ensure that government policy is oriented towards enhancing the effectiveness of the UN.

New Zealand Social Sciences Conference


Educators and education experts will come together in Napier from 4-6 October at the 2017 New Zealand Social Sciences Conference to discuss the question ‘how do we develop global citizens?’.

Social Sciences Commissioner Materoa Dodd will be representing the National Commission at the conference. She will be speaking as part of a roundtable discussion on Exploring Citizenship Education in the 21st century. See her speak from 10.30-11.30 am on Thursday 5 October.

Also keep an eye out for an announcement from the National Commission about GCED that will be made at the conference.