SWEDESD celebrates 10 years!

SWEDESD's activities at the Faculty of Educational Sciences consist of research, education, method, tool and process development, as well as policy work in the field of transformative learning for sustainable development. Our activities are dedicated to all science areas at Uppsala University, to Sweden and to the world. Our idea is that SWEDESD should:

  1. offer a research-based learning environment for Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), and
  2. run the university's national and international cooperation on ESD, to scale transformative learning for sustainable development and thus contribute to the university's work for a better world.

SWEDESD has now been active in both these areas for 10 years. How did it all start, then?

Sweden was driving the creation of the UN Decade for Sustainable Development (2005-2014). The Swedish government decided that a center for educational development would be established in Sweden, and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Sida, got responsibility for building and funding it. After a couple of years of preparation, SWEDESD saw the light of day in 2008, for regional policy reasons linked to Gotland University. Several international projects together with Sida's partner countries, with emphasis on countries in Africa and Asia, have since been run by SWEDESD, who had help from an international scientific council, and who built a large and widespread international research and development network worldwide. And in recent years, as phasing out Sida's role and entering into Uppsala University, SWEDESD’s development has been characterized by in-depth research anchoring and building up R&D activities in Sweden and other countries.

We are fortunate that Uppsala University is concerned with sustainable development and ESD. The university’s ESD research is based at SWEDESD. As Uppsala University’s R&D center for ESD, SWEDESD is engaged in strategic national and international research for education and learning for the Agenda 2030. Starting off in the global challenges as wicked problems, i.e. problems that are unique, and hard to conceptualize, predict and solve, SWEDESD offers a research-based learning environment that contributes with methods and tools for transformative learning at Uppsala University, in Sweden, and in the world.

We are happy and proud that after hard and intense work, we are where we are today! Let us especially emphasize three things. 1) SWEDESD's role and function at Uppsala University is now, on initiative from the Vice Chancellor, to be investigated. The goal is to find a permanent university-wide solution, and with this SWEDESD will take the final step in the development from a former Sida-funded center to a university center. 2) Our upcoming International Master's Program in Education and Learning for Sustainable Development! And, 3) Campus Gotland ESD Learning Lab! We have created Campus Gotland ESD Learning Lab as a competence center for learning for sustainable development in Visby. Campus Gotland ESD Learning Lab will develop Campus Gotland's education and research environment interdisciplinary and sustainably, and we work with and for teachers, researchers and students, as well as regional actors in all of Gotland's social sectors. 

Together with our partners – researchers, lecturers, students, practitioners, educators, and policymakers – this has been possible. Thanks to a dedicated leadership at the Faculty of Educational Sciences, at Campus Gotland, and at the top university level. Our warmest thanks to all of you!

Eva Friman, Director


Jim Taylor

Research Fellow
University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Hi Eva

Thank you for this invitation and congratulations on reaching the ten year milestone.
Working with SWEDESD has been a high-light of my life, both professional and social. From the first key-note and launch of the concept in Gotland, ten years ago, the friendliness of all the people has been very special. This includes staff, advisors, academics and all associated with the concept of SWEDESD.

The sense of care and concern has been amazing. The example that the Swedish nation offers the world is beautiful, empathic and participatory through it’s democracy.  If only other nation states could follow this caring and inclusive example.

All nations should be working towards societies that are less exploitative of resources, less exploitative of each other, more sustainable in action and more caring in nature!
Of course management challenges at SWEDESD, in a Centre that seeks to serve the world, but is just a part of it, have always been there.  Where these challenges could be engaged with better things became possible!
The support for teacher capacity development especially across southern Africa has been a particular highlight of SWEDESD work.

For future collaboration the sharing of resource materials, such as the ‘tools for science and sustainability’ could be a real possibility! Where we can link these to the SDG’s for tangible and practical ‘sustainability pathways’ a brighter future will be possible.

Best wishes and much love to all


Dear Eva,

I hope the following will suffice. Please pass along my best wishes to the team and the administration at Uppsala.

I too want to share my congratulations on 10 significant years of SWEDESD giving superb leadership and support to the global goal of a more sustainable future. In 2002, at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, Sweden promised the world leaders that the nation would give help and direction in the form of education for sustainable development. Unlike many, Sweden kept its promise and continues to do so today. From its thoughtful and strategic inception by the Swedish government as part of this commitment, to this very day, SWEDESD has continued the global outreach of your nation in education’s role in a sustainable future for all.

SWEDESD has shown leadership from its beginning by hosting crucial formative conferences, planning/implementation meetings and its leaders have reached out to contribute intellectually at global ESD events. This guiding role continues today as SWEDESD serves as a crucial leader of UNESCO’s Global Action Plan on ESD. SWEDESD is not only a singular lead actor. SWEDESD is a team builder and network maintainer.  As a UNESCO Chair in Reorienting Education towards Sustainability, I can attest that working with the small but effective SWEDESD team has been both a pleasure and an effective way of truly collaborative working. Together with the Learning Teacher Network and my UNESCO Chair’s International Network of Teacher Education Institutions we held a global conference on reorienting teacher education to address sustainability in Visby. In addition, I keep in touch and continually discuss ESD strategy with the SWEDESD executive team.

SWEDESD has developed and grown over the 10 years. The link to Uppsala University is so timely, as now, with the challenges for nations of implementing the SDGs and the Global Education 2030 Agenda, SWEDESD and its combined university resources are even more important. This ESD support, channeled through the new emerging UNESCO Global Action Programme, addresses not only SDG4 but also, as the UN General Assembly recognized last December, addresses the implementation of all the SDGs. I, and many others, hope that a parallel concept of “SWEDESD 2030” emerges and SWEDESD in reality continues as a cornerstone of the world’s ESD initiatives long into the future.

Again, my congratulations, my thanks and my welcome to the SWEDESD teams of past, present and future. Warmest regards and hopes of continued collaboration


Charles A. Hopkins

Chairholder, UNESCO Chair in Reorienting
Education towards Sustainability, York University Canada

Tichaona Pesanayi

Programme Manager
SADC REEP at WESSA, South Africa

Dear Eva

Working with SWEDESD has been of great value in extending adding value to the work of the SADC REEP beyond its funding period, and scaling up a unique and productive North-South collaboration. This came at the right time through ’The Parts and the Whole’ / Fundisana for Change and ’Sustainability starts with teachers’. It is our hope that we can work together closely again and that future collaboration can incorporate various aspects of ESD capacity building beyond just teacher education, to include TVET, and Agricultural education and training. Well done team SWEDESD!

Best regards