Education for Sustainable Development

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Making environmental issues easy to understand and practical: With the Green Future of Children Group Vietnamese children and youth engage in green lifestyles.
© UNESCO/GFOC, Vietnam

Poverty, climate change, frequent natural disasters and dramatic social inequities are just some of the unprecedented set of challenges the global community faces today.

In a world of 7 billion people, with limited natural resources, individuals and societies have to learn to act more sustainably.

Long-term sustainable development can be achieved only if individuals and societies change the way they think and act. Education is key to achieving this transformation.

Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) helps individuals and groups to find solutions for sustainability challenges. ESD means integrating priority sustainable development issues into teaching and learning; for example, climate change, disaster risk reduction, biodiversity, poverty reduction, and sustainable consumption.

Within the context of the Global Action Programme on ESD, partners can join forces with UNESCO to scale up action in all levels and areas of education and learning to accelerate progress towards sustainable development.

UNESCO will facilitate the implementation of the Global Action Programme, which builds on the achievements of the UNESCO-led UN Decade of ESD (2005-2014). Strong partnerships with all relevant stakeholders will be developed in five priority action areas:

  • ESD policy integration,
  • whole-institution approaches,
  • educators,
  • youth, and
  • local communities.

As lead agency for the UN Decade of ESD and with a global mandate on education, UNESCO has longstanding experience in coordinating ESD implementation globally, providing technical support to countries around the world and is the recognized leader on ESD. At the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), countries acknowledged the importance of ESD in the outcome document, and made a commitment to strengthening it beyond the end of the Decade.

UNESCO’s holistic approach to education strengthens its capacity for promoting ESD implementation. Its inter-sectoral approach and mandate provides UNESCO with the unique advantage of drawing upon technical expertise in the areas education, natural science, social sciences, culture as well as communication to make an important contribution to sustainable development.