It’s cultural - because our values shape our actions
Culture has the capacity to bring about the attitudes needed to ensure sustainable development (SD): our cultural values, which often include religious beliefs, shape our way of living and acting. This page highlights how SD is concerned with people-to-people relationships.
Why education and culture are key aspects of Education for Sustainable Development
- Understanding SD is the foundation for people to act as responsible consumers and citizens
- Opportunities for education and development are damaged by a lack of tolerance. SD is founded on intercultural understanding.
- Culture strongly influences how ESD is dealt with: values, diversity, knowledge, languages and worldviews differ with national contexts.
- Education is a critical complement to other policies
This is why, amongst other initiatives, the United Nations has launched the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014, DESD), with UNESCO as its lead agency: The objective is to encourage changes in behaviour, for a more sustainable and just society for all.
Education for Sustainable Development is different from environmental education
- Environmental education is well established. It focuses on relationships between people and nature.
- Yet, people-to-people relationships lie at the core of a sustainable society. This is why SD is set in the broader context of socio-cultural and political issues.
A mind shift is needed to build a sustainable world
The Club of Rome ’s Limits to Growth (2004 update), highlights 5 “essential characteristics for any society that hopes to survive over the long term”:
- visioning or imagining
- truth telling
How education and information make the world change
The USA now recycles more than 1/3 of its waste. A change which comes notably from an understanding of the need to recycle, e.g. via the media, governmental policies, innovative learning materials…
Note there is often also an economic driver: recycling can be a profitable business...
Find out about “Waste in our life”: this EU supported publication provides key tools and resources for educators who work with the topic of waste.