Education for sustainable development

© UNESCO/Dom João

With a world population of 7 billion people and limited natural resources, we, as individuals and societies need to learn to live together sustainably. We need to take action responsibly based on the understanding that what we do today can have implications on the lives of people and the planet in future. Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) empowers people to change the way they think and work towards a sustainable future. ESD means including key sustainable development issues into teaching and learning.  

It requires far-reaching changes in the way education is often practiced today. This educational effort will encourage changes in behaviour that will create a more sustainable future in terms of environmental integrity, economic viability, and a just society for present and future generations. This represents a new vision of education, a vision that helps people of all ages to better understand the world in which they live, addressing the complexity and interconnectedness of problems such as poverty, wasteful consumption, environmental degradation, urban decay, population growth, health, conflict and the violation of human rights that threaten our future.

It also requires participatory teaching and learning methods that motivate and empower learners to change their behaviour and take action for sustainable development. Education for Sustainable Development consequently promotes competencies like critical thinking, imagining future scenarios and making decisions in a collaborative way.

There is growing international recognition of ESD as an integral element of quality education and a key enabler for sustainable development. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the global community for the next 15 years include ESD. Target 4.7 of SDG 4 on education addresses ESD and related approaches such as Global Citizenship Education, Inclusive Education, Human Rights, Culture of Peace, Cultural Diversity, Gender Equality, among others.

UNESCO aims to improve access to quality education on sustainable development at all levels and in all social contexts to improve access to quality education on sustainable development at all levels and in all social contexts, to transform society by reorienting education and help people develop knowledge, skills, values and behaviours needed for sustainable development. It is about including sustainable development issues, such as climate changedisaster risk reductionbiodiversity into teaching and learning. Individuals are encouraged to be responsible actors who resolve challenges, respect cultural diversity and contribute to creating a more sustainable world.

What UNESCO does on Education for Sustainable Development in Brazil?

© UNESCO/Nelson Muchagata

UNESCO is the lead UN agency for Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and is responsible for the overall management, coordination and implementation of the Global Action Programme (GAP) on ESD.

The GAP focuses on generating and scaling up action, around five priority action areas. These are to advance policy, transform learning and training environments, build the capacities of educators and trainers, empower and mobilize youth and accelerate sustainable solutions at a local level. UNESCO in Brazil plays a primary role in promoting ESD.

  • UNESCO supports countries to develop and expand educational activities that focus on sustainability issues such as climate change, biodiversity, disaster risk reduction, water, cultural diversity, sustainable urbanisation and sustainable lifestyles through ESD . It advises policy-makers on how to integrate ESD into education policies, curricula and teacher training. Empowering learners to live responsibly and to address complex global challenges.
  • UNESCO encourages training teachers to ensure that schools integrate ESD. For instance, an online course available for secondary school teachers on climate change education and a course for teachers on climate change and sustainable development in Portuguese, and a version of this course adapted to the Brazilian context.
  • UNESCO creates discussion around ESD through organizing and participating in international meetings and events; by publishing key resources such as “Education for Sustainable Development Goals: Learning Objectives” and videos for children on ESD for children.
  • UNESCO has also developed an important role on mobilizing youth around ESD. 

 

 

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