Advancing Policy


"Mainstream ESD into both education and sustainable development policies, to create an enabling environment for ESD and to bring about systemic change"

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Whether it’s reducing greenhouse gas emissions or charting a national green skills development strategy, more often than not current policy approaches are not comprehensive enough to have real impact. Bringing about systemic change will only happen with relevant and coherent policies designed by ministries, coming together and engaging with the private sector, local communities, academics, and civil society. At present, efforts to develop policies on ESD based on cross-sector and multistakeholder approaches have shown early promise, but these efforts need to be further coordinated and bolstered.
Actions in this Priority Action Area include integrating ESD into international and national policies on education and sustainable development. The Ministries of Education around the globe have an important responsibility to ensure that education systems are prepared for, and responsive to, existing and emerging sustainability challenges. This includes, among others, integrating ESD into curricula and national quality standards, and developing relevant indicator frameworks that establish standards for learning outcomes. ESD needs to be seen as an important contributor to educational quality, and included in national education system measures of quality.
ESD is not simply about strengthening the education sector response to sustainable development. National and international strategies dealing with the social, economic, and environmental dimensions of sustainable development, ranging from disaster management plans to low carbon development strategies, should include ESD as a means of implementation. ESD should also become a systematic part of bilateral and multilateral development cooperation frameworks.
Expected outcomes include ESD integrated into sub-national, national, subregional, regional and international policy frameworks, plans, strategies, programmes and processes related to education and to sustainable development. 
Main stakeholders in this Priority Action Area are policymakers in both the education and the sustainable development sectors. 
First and foremost, stakeholders in education need to set out policies and agendas to integrate ESD into the various processes and structures of the sector. These education stakeholders need to allocate and to mobilise resources to translate these policies into actions, especially building necessary capacity at national and sub-national levels.
Policymakers working in climate change, disaster risk reduction, sustainable consumption and production, biodiversity, and other sustainability challenges are invited to recognise and to adopt ESD to tackle these issues. They can invest their efforts in supporting inter-ministerial and multi-stakeholder coordination and collaboration, where education is an integral part of discussions on sustainable development.
Civil society organisations, such as community groups, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), associations, unions, and foundations, also have an important role to play in advancing ESD policy. They can urge governments to take the necessary actions, or they can pursue their own initiatives to complement the actions of the public sector, bridging the gap between policy and practice. 
Last but not least, inter-governmental bodies, agencies and institutions working at sub-regional, regional or international level are also crucial for this Priority Action Area. They should integrate ESD into their agendas and mandates on sustainability. They should also encourage their Member States to do their part in efforts at country level.
  • National governments include ESD in national quality standards and indicator frameworks that establish standards for learning outcomes
  • National governments, development banks, international NGOs, and UN agencies include ESD in global agreements on sustainable development
  • Beydaar Society and Echo Change - More
  • Centre for Environment Education, India -  More
  • German Federal Ministry of Education and Research - More
  • Global Alliance for Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience in the Education Sector (GADRRRES) - More
  • Global Campaign for Education -  More
  • Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) - More
  • Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC)  - More
  • International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) - More
  • Mediterranean Initiative for Environment and Sustainability (MEdIES) - More
  • Ministry of Education, Costa Rica - More
  • Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology - Japanese National Commission for UNESCO - More
  • Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Kenya - More
  • Ministry of Environment, Green Development and Tourism (MEGDT), Mongolia -  More
  • Ministry of Education and Training, Vietnam - More
  • National Council on Climate Change and Clean Development Mechanism, Dominican Republic  -  More
  • UN Alliance on Climate Change Education, Training and Public Awareness (Secretariat UNFCCC)  -  More
  • UN CC:Learn coordinated by UNITAR -  More
  • United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)Secretariat -  More