On 3 October, 100 civil society representatives gathered in Brussels to discuss the role of Global Citizenship Education in achieving sustainable development. This was the first of several international conferences organised by Bridge 47 – Building Global Citizenship.

The conference brought together representatives of different types of value-based education to learn from each other, get inspired and find new strategies for promoting Global Citizenship Education together.

Maya Menezes from the Leap Manifesto shared an inspiring story of the power of working together from Canada. “To change everything, you need everybody”, she stressed, while encouraging the participants to look beyond their traditional allies. “If we are all agreeing with each other all the time, then maybe the right people are not in the room.”

In order to make sustainable development a reality, we need decision-makers to recognize the crucial role of Global Citizenship Education. The participants of the conference recognized several key components in bringing decision makers on board. As civil society, we should build coalitions, create change from the bottom up, embrace discomfort and uncertainty, understand the needs of different stakeholders, see decision-makers as people, not positions, have clear messages and stories, and be persistent.

Four participants – Sandy Morrison (ICAE), Claudia Cassoma (CIVICUS), Loizos Loukaidis (Association for Historical Dialogue and Research, Cyprus) and Shirley Walters (ICAE) shared their stories during the day. Sandy Morrison stressed the importance and value of traditional knowledge systems. Claudia Cassoma reminded the participants that we are all pieces of a larger puzzle. Loizos Loukaidis pointed out that if we do not teach children peace, someone else will teach them war. Shirley Walters reminded the participants of the importance of working together and to dream and imagine an alternative system.

Several participants volunteered to host workshops. The workshops touched upon topics such as embracing and learning from failure, how to measure target 4.7. of the Sustainable Development Goals, the role of Adult Learning and Education in achieving sustainable development, how to avoid common problems in Global Citizenship Education through the use of the HEADS UP -tool, what resilience as learning could mean and how Global Citizenship Education can promote social civic movements.

After a day full of insight and inspiration, Rilli Lappalainen, Bridge 47 Steering Group chair, and Taina Riski, Project Manager, closed the day – “Global Citizenship Education is a language. We may speak different dialects, but we all understand each other.”