Education for Sustainable Development


Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) aims at providing every human being with the opportunity to acquire the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values necessary to shape a sustainable future.

ESD means including key sustainable development issues into teaching and learning; for example, climate change, disaster risk reduction, biodiversity, poverty reduction, and sustainable consumption. It also requires participatory teaching and learning methods that motivate and empower learners to change their behaviour and take action for sustainable development. ESD consequently promotes competencies like critical thinking, imagining future scenarios and making decisions in a collaborative way.

Education for Sustainable Development requires far-reaching changes in the way education is often practiced today.

UNESCO Priorities in ESD

Based on its Strategy for the second half of the UN Decade of ESD and the Bonn Declaration of 2009, UNESCO focuses its support to Member States and stakeholders in addressing sustainable development challenges through education on the following areas:

  • Climate change education
  • Disaster risk reduction and education
  • Biodiversity education
  • Leading and reporting on the DESD

UNESCO Focuses on:

  • Strategic advocacy to integrate ESD into the global education and sustainable development agendas. To this end, strengthening the evidence base regarding ESD’s contribution to quality education and to achieving sustainable development objectives is an important concern;
  • Policy advice and technical assistance to Member States to integrate ESD into education policies, plans and curricula. This includes collecting and disseminating good practice in ESD.

Education for Sustainable Development is education for the future.  It helps building a better and fairer world for the 21st century.

  • ESD Makes Education Relevant: Education for Sustainable Development equips learners with the knowledge, skills and values to address social, environmental and economic challenges of the 21st century.
  • ESD Transforms Education: Education for Sustainable Development uses innovative, learner-centred approaches to teaching and learning. It empowers students and makes them agents in the educational process, from early childhood to old age. It promotes learning beyond the boundaries of educational institutions.
  • ESD Promotes Equity and Respect: Education for Sustainable Development helps learners understand the situation, the outlook and the needs of people who live in other parts of the world or belong to another generation.
  • ESD helps Address Climate Change: 175 million children are likely to be affected by disasters related to climate change within the next decade. Education for Sustainable Development prepares learners to adapt to the impact of climate change and empowers them to address its causes.
  • ESD builds Green Societies: Education for Sustainable Development equips students with skills for green jobs that help preserve or restore the quality of the environment, and improve human well-being and social equity. It motivates learners to choose sustainable lifestyles.
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