Education for Sustainable Consumption

The importance of education in facilitating a shift towards sustainable development and in promoting sustainable consumption patterns has been internationally reaffirmed in the UN’s decision to launch a UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014)  and through the Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development.

Our consumption choices are powerful decisions that we make in our everyday life; they shape markets and production patterns and have tremendous impacts on our natural resources and ecosystems as well as on our global community – contributing to issues such as climate change and human rights. Through our purchasing choices, we vote in the market, by supporting or rejecting certain corporate practices, and also send messages to decision-makers in governments, industries and companies. Education is one of the most powerful tools to support us in making the right and more responsible choices while meeting our needs and aspirations. Education can reconcile consumption with freedom and responsibility. Education for Sustainable Consumption (ESC), an integral part of education for sustainable development (ESD), is essential to empower individuals and social groups with appropriate information on the impacts of their daily choices as consumers, as well as for workable solutions and alternatives.

Despite increasing international recognition of ESD and ESC, mainstreaming of education for sustainable consumption in formal education curricula as well as in informal education remains a challenge. ESC is generally not yet considered a priority either in developing or in developed countries. Various networks, initiatives and tools, which have been developed in different regions, have not succeeded in having a significant and efficient impact on educational policies and practices. More efforts are needed to open the setting of an experience-based model for the institutional strengthening of ESC through policy-making and implementation at a national level.

Based on the success of Here and Now! Education for Sustainable Consumption – Recommendations and Guidelines and on a strong demand from countries for guidance on how to integrate ESC into specific contexts and within existing frameworks or practices, UNEP, together with the Marrakech Task Force on ESC implemented a pilot project on the Institutional Strengthening of Education for Sustainable Consumption between 2011 and 2015 in Chile, Indonesia and Tanzania.

In the three countries involved in this project, the following was achieved:

  • Each country conducted a Review and Analysis of existing national policy frameworks and initiatives relevant to ESC, sustainable development, SCP and education strategies and/or plans, in order to identify and to understand what forces and interactions would be the most suitable to advance ESC. The aim is to define the best way to support integration of ESC into national policy frameworks. The Review and Analysis for Indonesia and Tanzania are available for download.
  • Each country conducted a Multi-stakeholder national roundtable discussion with policy-makers and education experts, as well as with other stakeholders, to develop best approaches and tools for ESC, including the adaptation of UNEP’s Here and Now! ESC Recommendations and Guidelines to national contexts, priorities and needs. This dialogue will provide inputs on how best to coordinate policy and implementation strategies. The meeting reports for Chile, Indonesia and Tanzania are available for download.
  • Each country developed and disseminated national guidelines and recommendations on ESC among relevant ministries (e.g. environment, education, consumer affairs), education experts and relevant stakeholders, based on the outcomes of the roundtable discussion, to support the development of the necessary policy instruments and a related national implementation strategy on ESC. The implementation strategy consists of a road map, which will (i) define the necessary steps to cement ESC in curricula and at ground levels (schools, NGOs, etc.); (ii) identify the main actors of ESC implementation; and (iii) involve encouraging training and awareness-raising sessions at the national and local levels. The National Guidelines for Indonesia and Tanzania are available for download.

This project has been developed by The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)  the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda, promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system and serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment.The work of UNEP encompasses assessing global, regional and national environmental conditions and trends, developing international and national environmental instruments and strengthening institutions for the wise management of the environment.


United Nations Environment Programme

United Nations Avenue, Gigiri

PO Box 30552, 00100

Nairobi, Kenya

Sustainable Living
Level of education: 
Wider public
Primary education
Secondary education
Professional training
Higher education
United Republic of Tanzania