Education for Sustainable Development

Sustainable development cannot be achieved by technological solutions, political regulation or financial instruments alone. We need to change the way we think and act. This requires quality education and learning for sustainable development at all levels and in all social contexts.

Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is about enabling us to constructively and creatively address present and future global challenges and create more sustainable and resilient societies.

UNESCO is the lead agency for the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD, 2005-2014).

In a world of 7 billion people, with limited natural resources, individuals and societies have to learn to live together and take responsible actions based on the understanding that actions here and today can have implications for the lives and livelihoods of people in other parts of the world, as well as for future generations.

This calls for new approaches to learning, the development of vibrant green economies and societies, and the emergence of a “global citizenship ”.

UNESCO supports countries to build ESD capacities, focusing on three key issues - climate change, biodiversity and disaster risk reduction - as entry points for promoting sustainable development practices through education.

It advises policy-makers on how to integrate ESD into education plans and curricula. It develops ESD tools and materials  for decision-makers, teachers and students to contribute to making education relevant for today’s world. It also helps link learning in schools to real life experience.

UNESCO encourages reorienting teacher education to ensure that ESD is integrated into teaching practices, for example through the new online course for secondary school teachers on climate change education. ESD success stories and many projects of UNESCO Associated Schools   are other examples of how ESD works in practice around the world.

As lead agency of the UN Decade of ESD (2005-2014), UNESCO monitors its implementation and, as decided in Rio +20,  UNESCO in consultation with Member States and relevant stakeholders, developed the Global Action Programme on ESD .[]. The GAP will be launched at the World Conference on ESD in November 2014 in Aichi-Nagoya, Japan.

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