Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)

Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) allows everyone to acquire the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values necessary to actively take part in shaping a sustainable future. ESD means including key sustainable development wicked issues – e.g. climate change, poverty reduction, disaster risk, sustainable consumption, refugees and biodiversity – into teaching and learning.

It also means creating participatory teaching methods and high-quality learning environment that allow for learners to co-create their world and future.

ESD promotes competencies like critical thinking, action competence, future scenarios skills and collaborative decision-making. ESD deals with curricula and learning content, pedagogy and learning environments, learning outcomes, and social transformation in formal, non-formal and in-formal settings.

Agenda 2030

The UN has decided on 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) and 169 targets to address all dimensions of sustainability. The international community recognizes that education is essential for the success of all its goals. Target 4.7 Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship aims at ensuring that, by 2030, all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development.

ESD fosters transformative key competences that are needed to engage with the complex interrelations among the issues addressed by the SDGs1.

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Further Readings

Guiding Principles of Transformative Education for Sustainable Development in Local School Organisations Investigating Whole School Approaches through a School Improvement Lens
Mogren, Anna Dissertation Karlstads universitet 2019

Issues and trends in Education for Sustainable Development
A. Leicht, J. Heiss and W. J. Byun (eds) 2018 Publication Unesco

Hope and worry: exploring young people's values, emotions, and behavior regarding global environmental problems
Ojala, Maria Dissertation Örebro University 2007 

Rethinking Education - Towards a global common good? 
Publication, UNESCO 2015

Why I Don't Want My Children to be Educated for Sustainable Development 
Jickling, B. (1992). The Journal of Environmental Education (pdf)


Education’s role in achieving sustainable development
The Almedalen Week 2019