Education for sustainable development

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Training on Education for sustainable development workshop in Kasese district Uganda

Education for sustainable development (ESD) is defined as education that encourages changes in knowledge, skills, values and attitudes to enable a more sustainable and just society for all. ESD aims to empower and equip current and future generations to meet their needs using a balanced and integrated approach to the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.[1] ESD is the term most used internationally and by the United Nations.

Agenda 21 was the first international document that identified education as an essential tool for achieving sustainable development and highlighted areas of action for education.[2][3] ESD is a component of measurement in an indicator for Sustainable Development Goal 12 (SDG) for "responsible consumption and production". SDG 12 has 11 targets and target 12.8 is "By 2030, ensure that people everywhere have the relevant information and awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature."[4]

Concept and origin[edit]

One version of education for Sustainable Development recognizes modern-day environmental challenges and seeks to define new ways to adjust to a changing biosphere, as well as engage individuals to address societal issues that come with them [5] In the International Encyclopedia of Education, this approach to education is seen as an attempt to "shift consciousness toward an ethics of life-giving relationships that respects the interconnectedness of man to his natural world" in order to equip future members of society with environmental awareness and a sense of responsibility to sustainability.[6] The Brundtland Commission defined sustainable development as meeting the needs of the present generation without putting at risk the capacity of generations to come in meeting their own requirements.[7] This Agency used to be the World Commission on Environment and Development created in 1983.[8] The idea of sustainable development originated from the United Nations Conference on Human Environment in Stockholm (Sweden 1972).[9] There were two more global activities since then. These were the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development 1987 (Our Common Future Report)[10] and the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development 1992 (Rio Earth Summit).[11]

For UNESCO, education for sustainable development involves:

integrating key sustainable development issues into teaching and learning. This may include, for example, instruction about climate change, disaster risk reduction, biodiversity, and poverty reduction and sustainable consumption. It also requires participatory teaching and learning methods that motivate and empower learners to change their behaviours and take action for sustainable development. ESD consequently promotes competencies like critical thinking, imagining future scenarios and making decisions in a collaborative way.[12][13]

The Thessaloniki Declaration, presented at the "International Conference on Environment and Society: Education and Public Awareness for Sustainability" by UNESCO and the Government of Greece (December 1997), highlights the importance of sustainability not only with regards to the natural environment, but also with "poverty, health, food security, democracy, human rights, and peace".[14]

The concept of ESD was born from the need for education to address the growing environmental challenges facing the planet. Sustainability in higher education is not only limited to embedding intended learning outcomes about sustainable development into the curriculum of higher educational institutions. However, a sustainable campus should integrate the educational and managerial aspects of the sustainable development along with its three dimensions (environmental, economical, social responsibility) into its different practices.[15]

Sustainable Development Goals[edit]

The Sustainable Development Goals are 17 goals that were established by the UN in 2015. [16] SDG 4 focuses on Education and target 4.7 aims to make sure that people are given the knowledge and skills to promote sustainable development.[17] SDG 12 concentrates on Responsible Consumption and Production and target 12.8 aims to make sure that everyone has the information and "awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature".[18] Target 12.B under Goal 12 also aims to measure the impacts of sustainable development for sustainable tourism to create jobs and promote local culture and products.[19]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Issues and trends in education for sustainable development. Paris: UNESCO. 2018. p. 7. ISBN 978-92-3-100244-1. This article incorporates text available under the CC BY 4.0 license.
  2. ^ Retrieved 2020-05-24. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ Bernad-Cavero, Olga; Llevot-Calvet, Núria (2018-07-04). New Pedagogical Challenges in the 21st Century: Contributions of Research in Education. BoD – Books on Demand. ISBN 978-1-78923-380-3.
  4. ^ United Nations (2017) Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 6 July 2017, Work of the Statistical Commission pertaining to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (A/RES/71/313)
  5. ^ Schooling for sustainable development in Europe : concepts, policies and educational experiences at the end of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development. Jucker, Rolf, 1963-, Mathar, Reiner. Cham [Switzerland]. 27 October 2014. ISBN 978-3-319-09549-3. OCLC 894509040.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  6. ^ International encyclopedia of education. Peterson, Penelope L.,, Baker, Eva L.,, McGaw, Barry (3rd ed.). Oxford: Elsevier. 2010. ISBN 978-0-08-044894-7. OCLC 645208716.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  7. ^ "The Brundtland Commission". Retrieved 2018-07-04.
  8. ^ "Education for Sustainable Development | Development". 17 September 2012. Retrieved 2018-07-04.
  9. ^ "UN Conference on the Human Environment .:. Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform". Retrieved 2018-07-04.
  10. ^ "UN World Commission on Environment and Development, ed., Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development: Our Common Future | Environment & Society Portal". 11 July 2016. Retrieved 2018-07-04.
  11. ^ "The Rio Earth Summit: summary of the United Nations conference on Environment and Development (BP-317E)". Retrieved 2018-07-04.
  12. ^ "Education for Sustainable Development". UNESCO. 10 May 2013. Retrieved 17 October 2017.
  13. ^ Marope, P.T.M; Chakroun, B.; Holmes, K.P. (2015). Unleashing the Potential: Transforming Technical and Vocational Education and Training (PDF). UNESCO. pp. 9, 23, 25–26. ISBN 978-92-3-100091-1.
  14. ^ Nikolopoulou, Anastasia; Abraham, Taisha; Mirbagheri, Farid (2010). Education for Sustainable Development: Challenges, Strategies, and Practices in a Globalizing World Education for sustainable development: Challenges, strategies, and practices in a globalizing world. doi:10.4135/9788132108023. ISBN 9788132102939.
  15. ^ Adel, H. M.; Mahrous, A. A. (2018). Sustainability communication and evaluation: A practice-based case study on British-Egyptian universities value-chain. Bristol Business School, University of the West of England: Proceedings of the 32nd Annual International Conference of The British Academy of Management (BAM) 2018: Driving Productivity in Uncertain and Challenging Times. ISBN 978-0-9956413-1-0.
  16. ^ UN Sustainable Development Goals,
  17. ^ UN Sustainable Development Goal 4: Quality Education,
  18. ^ UN Sustainable Development Goal 12: Sustainable Consumption and Production,
  19. ^ UN Sustainable Development Goal 12: Sustainable Consumption and Production,

External links[edit]