Baha’i presentation at the UN Commission on Sustainable Development

On 8 May, the Baha’i International Community was given the opportunity to present the SAT program as a best practice learning event to the UN Commission on Sustainable Development during the Commission’s Review Session held at the United Nations. The SAT (Sistema de Aprendizaje Tutorial) program is an internationally recognized system for building capacities for sustainable rural development.

Duncan Hanks, Executive Director of the Canadian Baha’i International Development Agency (CBIDA), was invited by the UN Office of the Baha’i International Community to moderate the SAT learning event, a three hour interactive workshop featuring two representatives of the Bayan Association of Honduras, Mr. Soheil Dooki and Dr. Barry Smith, and Dr. Erin Murphy-Graham, faculty member of the University of California (Berkeley). The learning event focused on the capacity building aspects of the SAT program in Honduras, where the program currently reaches about 6,500 rural participants primarily in farming communities.

The SAT presentation at the CSD-16 Learning Center attracted an unusually large crowd including representatives from the major groups of civil society and seven country delegations as well. According to Mrs. Hiroko Morita-Lou, Coordinator of the CSD-16 Learning Center, the SAT program session was among the best attended of all the CSD-16 learning events to date.

Among the attendees was His Excellency Mr. Marco A. Suazo, Ambassador, Deputy Permanent Representative of Honduras to the United Nations who was so moved by the presentation that he interrupted the workshop to express his profound appreciation for the contribution SAT is making to his country.

The SAT program in Honduras and Colombia has reached over 100,000 direct beneficiaries in rural communities since its creation 30 years ago by the Columbian NGO FUNDAEC. Both SAT, and a derivative program called the Preparation for Social Action (PSA) program, have since been implemented in communities across Latin America, Africa, and Asia through a network of partner NGOs and government ministries. In the past ten years SAT has received substantial investments from the Canadian International Development Agency (Partnership Branch) and CBIDA through jointly funded projects.

The goal of the SAT and PSA programs is to help students develop capabilities and critical thinking skills that enable them to take charge of their own intellectual growth and contribute to building better and prosperous rural communities. Capabilities emphasized in the SAT program include strengthening local governance, income generation activities like micro-enterprises, and improving agricultural production.

To view a summary of the presentation, click here:SAT: A Model for Building Capabilities for Sustainable Rural Development

To access the two PowerPoint presentations, click here:1. Implementation of SAT in Honduras: An institutional partnership Asociación Bayan2. SAT: A Model for Building Capabilities for Sustainable Rural Development

During the CSD-16th Review Session, the Baha’i International Community also sponsored an international panel entitled “Sustainable Development: Without Rural Women?” and a side event on “The Ethical Dimensions of Climate Change: Implications for Africa’s Rural and Agricultural Development.” The May 7th 2008 edition of Outreach Issues published by the Sustainable Development Issues Network, features an article from a youth perspective on the BIC sponsored panel on the ethical dimensions of climate change.