Building peace in the minds of men and women

What UNESCO does on Education for Sustainable Development


© International School of Kuala Lumpur

UNESCO is the United Nations leading agency for Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and is responsible for the overall management, coordination, implementation and monitoring of ESD for 2030, the current global framework for ESD. 

ESD is widely recognized as an integral element of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in particular Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4), and a key enabler of all the other SDGs.

ESD for 2030 scales up the progress of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014) and the Global Action Programme (GAP) on ESD, which ran from 2015 to 2019.

UNESCO’s work on ESD focuses on five priority action areas. Find out more about each:



UNESCO supports countries to develop and expand educational activities that focus on sustainability issues such as climate changebiodiversitydisaster risk reductionwatercultural diversitysustainable urbanisation and sustainable lifestyles through ESD .  

UNESCO monitors and evaluates progress on Sustainable Development Goal Indicator 4.7.1, the extent to which citizenship education and education for sustainable development are mainstreamed in national education policies; curricula; teacher education; and student assessment. It does this through periodic reviews of the implementation of the 1974 Recommendation concerning Education for International Understanding, Co-operation and Peace and Education relating to Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and additional complimentary studies.

UNESCO Associated Schools Network (ASPnet), a global network of more than 11,500 educational institutions in 182 countries, work as a laboratory of how to integrate ESD through a whole-school approach and work to upscale good practices.

As part of their commitment to Education of the for Sustainable Development, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) of Japan has contributed to supporting UNESCO since 2005 via the Japanese Funds-in-Trust (JFIT) for ESD. The fund assists UNESCO to ensure its global leadership and coordination of ESD, and implement programmes in particular in advocacy and communication (including the UNESCO-Japan Prize); capacity building and technical support; and monitoring, reporting and research.