Sustainability education and Education for Sustainable Development are interchangeable terms describing the practice of teaching for sustainability. ESD is the term most used internationally and by the United Nations. Agenda 21 was the first international document that identified education as an essential tool for achieving sustainable development and highlighted areas of action for education.
Concept and origin
One definition of Education for Sustainable Development is an “interdisciplinary learning methodology covering the integrated social, economic, and environmental aspects of formal and informal curriculum. This academic approach can help graduates nurture their knowledge, talents, and experience to play a role in environmental development and become responsible members of society. The Brundtland Commission defined sustainable development as meeting the needs of the present generation without putting at risk the capacity of generations to come in meeting their own requirements. This Agency used to be the World Commission on Environment and Development created in 1983. The idea of sustainable development originated from the United Nations Conference on Human Environment in Stockholm (Sweden 1972). There were two more global activities since then. These were the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development 1987 (Our Common Future Report) and the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development 1992 (Rio Earth Summit).
For UNESCO, education for sustainable development involves:
integrating key sustainable development issues into teaching and learning. This may include, for example, instruction about climate change, disaster risk reduction, biodiversity, and poverty reduction and sustainable consumption. It also requires participatory teaching and learning methods that motivate and empower learners to change their behaviours and take action for sustainable development. ESD consequently promotes competencies like critical thinking, imagining future scenarios and making decisions in a collaborative way.
The aspiration of sustainable development requires us to resolve common problems and tensions and to recognize new horizons. Economic growth and the creation of wealth have reduced global poverty rates, but vulnerability, inequality, exclusion and violence have increased within and across societies throughout the world. Unsustainable patterns of economic production and consumption contribute to global warming, environmental degradation and an upsurge in natural disasters. Moreover, while international human rights frameworks have been strengthened over the past several decades, the implementation and protection of these norms remain a challenge. For example, despite the progressive empowerment of women through greater access to education, they continue to face discrimination in public life and in employment. Violence against women and children, particularly girls, continues to undermine their rights. Again, while technological development contributes to greater interconnectedness and offers new avenues for exchange, cooperation and solidarity, we also see an increase in cultural and religious intolerance, identity-based political mobilization and conflict.
Education must find ways of responding to such challenges, taking into account multiple worldviews and alternative knowledge systems, as well as new frontiers in science and technology such as the advances in neurosciences and the developments in digital technology. Rethinking the purpose of education and the organization of learning has never been more urgent.
Groundwork has been laid for sustainability education worldwide. Recent changes in service learning, a focus on literacies and skills, standards that support interdisciplinary thinking, and the role of systems thinking have all increased the visibility of the movement. Various approaches to ESD encourage people to understand the complexities of, and synergies between, the issues threatening planetary sustainability and understand and assess their own values and those of the society in which they live in the context of sustainability. ESD seeks to engage people in negotiating a sustainable future, making decisions and acting on them. While it is generally agreed on that sustainability education must be customized for individual learners, according to Tilbury and Wortman, the following skills are essential to ESD:
Envisioning – being able to imagine a better future. The premise is that if we know where we want to go, we will be better able to work out how to get there.
Critical thinking and reflection – learning to question our current belief systems and to recognize the assumptions underlying our knowledge, perspective and opinions. Critical thinking skills help people learn to examine economic, environmental, social and cultural structures in the context of sustainable development.
Systemic thinking – acknowledging complexities and looking for links and synergies when trying to find solutions to problems.
Building partnerships – promoting dialogue and negotiation, learning to work together.
Participation in decision-making – empowering people.
United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD)
In recognition of the importance of ESD, the United Nations General Assembly declared 2005–2014 the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD). UNESCO leads the Decade and has developed an International Implementation Scheme for the Decade. The goals of the decade are to provide an opportunity for refining and promoting the vision of, and transition to, sustainable development – through all forms of education, public awareness and training; and to give an enhanced profile to the important role of education and learning in sustainable development. Education for sustainability is the practice of learning how to achieve global and local sustainable communities.
The objectives of the DESD are to:
facilitate networking linkages, exchange and interaction among stakeholders in ESD;
foster increased quality of teaching and learning in ESD;
help countries make progress towards and attain the Millennium Development Goals through ESD efforts;
provide countries with new opportunities to incorporate ESD into education reform efforts.
The end of the Decade was marked by the UNESCO World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). Made during the conference was the 2014 Aichi-Nagoya Declaration on Education for Sustainable Development, which invites governments ‘to reinforce the integration of ESD into education, training, and sustainable development policies.’ Where UNESCO serves as the lead agency to integrate the principles of sustainable development into all aspects of education to address the economic, social, cultural and environmental problems of the 21st century.
a-The United Nations Program on Education for Sustainable Development aims to 1- cultivate in every human being the knowledge and skills necessary to reach more sustainable future. 2– Include any child in the world to the educational edifice and provide access to school. 3- Improve the quality of education. 4- Promote the concept of global citizenship. In the future UNESCO will support its Education for All (EFA) plan and will continue to support its education line with the cooperation of other partner organizations such as UNICEF, the World Bank, the OECD,education international and NGOs.
b-UNESCO’s role in education for sustainable development. 1-UNESCO Prize “Education for Sustainable Development”. UNESCO invited governments and non-governmental organizations with official partnerships with UNESCO to nominate 3 individuals, institutions or organizations working in the field of education for sustainable development In order to be part of the UNESCO award, provided that it participates in one or more of the five areas of work of the program of education for sustainable development.Where the value of the prize $150000 is divided among 3 winners. UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova awarded the UNESCO / Japan Prize for Education for Sustainable Development to SERES from Guatemala and El Salvador, JAYAGIRL from Indonesia and ROOTABILITY from Germany at a ceremony held at UNESCO headquarters in Paris. This award is the first to be presented since its inception in the field of education for sustainable development. This award is being funded by the Government of Japan.
UNESCO and climate change education for sustainable development
Education is a key component of the global response to climate change in relation to UNESCO and its partners in the United Nations. Article 6 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change states that “States should facilitate education programs for awareness on climate change”.
Education in climate change for sustainable development aims to improve understanding of the key concepts of sustainability and the blood of these four directions:
1– Provide basic education because drought, floods, high temperatures and others affect the rates of:attendance of students in basic education.
2– Redirecting education towards critical thinking that reaches local and global solutions to climate change such as ozone hole.
3– increase educational awareness in order to rationalize energy consumption.
UNESCO and the United Nations Convention on the Use of Climate Change Education rely not only on schools but also on online courses and More than 14 million students and 2.1 million teachers in 58 countries have been involved in such education.
On the other hand, NGOs as a partner of the government contribute to sustainable development as a real contribution, and have succeeded in building development awareness, stability and employment through a real and effective participation in the development process. It also has a role in finding a balance between the ecosystem and the economy to conserve natural resources. Organizations are the right arm of governments in the process of sustainable development.
Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development (GAP on ESD)
The UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development took place from 2005 to 2014, with the goal of emphasizing education in all its forms (formal, non-formal and informal) as an indispensable element for achieving sustainable development. In November 2014, as the official follow-up to the DESD, UNESCO launched the Global Action Programme (GAP) for ESD with the overall objective to scale up action on ESD worldwide. Two basic and very important objectives of GAP on ESD are:
Reorienting education and learning so that everyone has the opportunity to acquire the values, skills and knowledge that empower them to contribute to sustainable development; and
Enhancing the role of education and learning in all relevant agendas, programmes and activities that promote sustainable development.
The GAP focuses on generating and scaling-up action in five Priority Action Areas: 1. Advancing policy; 2. Transforming learning and training environments; 3. Building capacities of educators and trainers; 4. Empowering and mobilizing youth; 5. Accelerating sustainable solutions at local level. Due to its strong linkages with sustainable development, the GAP on ESD provides an excellent framework for understanding the types of education, training and public awareness initiatives conducive to enabling people of all ages to understand and implement solutions for solving the complex problems presented by climate change.
UNESCO’s work on Climate Change Education (CCE) within the framework of its GAP on ESD aims to make education a more central and visible part of the international response to climate change; to support countries to integrate CCE into their education and training systems; and to support countries in achieving a smooth transition to green economies and resilient societies through education and training.
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
ESD is explicitly recognized in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as part of Target 4.7 of the SDG on education, together with Global Citizenship Education (GCED), which UNESCO promotes as a complementary approach. Target 4.7 of the SDGs states:
By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others,In August 2015, 193 countries agreed on the following 17 goals:
No to poverty. End poverty in all its forms everywhere. Not for hunger. Ending hunger, achieving food security, improving nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture. good health. Ensure healthy living and promote well-being for all ages. Quality education. Ensure universal and equal quality education and enhance lifelong learning opportunities for all. Gender equality Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. Clean and healthy water. Ensure abundance and sustainable water and health management for all. Renewable and affordable energy. Ensure affordable, reliable and sustainable energy access for all. Good jobs and economy economics. Promote sustainable, comprehensive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all. Innovative and good infrastructure. Build a flexible infrastructure and promote comprehensive, sustainable manufacturing and innovation promotion. Reduce inequality. Reducing inequality within States and between States and each other. Cities and sustainable communities. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, secure, flexible and sustainable. Responsible use of resources. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns. Climate move. Action to combat climate change and its impacts. Sustainable oceans. Sustainable and sustainable use of oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. Sustainable use of land. Protect, restore and promote the sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and restore land degradation and halt loss of biodiversity. Peace and justice. Promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, providing access to justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.
Partnership for Sustainable Development. Strengthening the means to implement and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.
At the same time, it is important to emphasize ESD’s crucial importance for all the other 16 SDGs. With its overall aim to develop cross-cutting sustainability competencies in learners, ESD is an essential contribution to all efforts to achieve the SDGs, enabling individuals to contribute to sustainable development by promoting societal, economic and political change as well as by transforming their own behaviour. ESD can produce specific cognitive, socio-emotional and behavioural learning outcomes that enable individuals to deal with the particular challenges of each SDG, thus facilitating its achievement. In short, ESD enables all individuals to contribute to achieving the SDGs by equipping them with the knowledge and competencies they need, not only to understand what the SDGs are about, but to engage as informed citizens in bringing about the necessary transformation.
Another group of goal formulations is based on the concept of competence. A statement from the OECD Education Ministers states: “Sustainable development and social cohesion are crucially dependent on the skills of the entire population – the term ‘competences’ encompassing knowledge, skills, attitudes and values.” A comprehensive approach to pooling resources In Germany, term BNE associated competences was under the concept of design competence of Gerhard de Haandeveloped and formulated. “Design competence refers to the ability to apply knowledge about sustainable development and to recognize problems of non-sustainable development. In other words, contemporary analyzes and future studies draw conclusions about ecological, economic, social, as well as political-democratic and cultural developments in their interdependence and make decisions based on them, understand them and implement them individually, collectively and politically… ” The design competence can be divided into 12 sub-competences:
Show empathy for others
Plan and act together with others
Interdisciplinary knowledge gaining and acting
Participate in collective decision-making
Their own mission statements and others can reflect
To motivate oneself and others to become active
Identify and weigh risks, dangers and uncertainties
Being able to plan and act independently
Predictively analyze and evaluate developments
Using ideas of justice as a basis for decision-making and action
Cosmopolitan and integrating new perspectives Building knowledge
Objective conflicts in the reflection on action strategies can be considered
An alternative target is provided by Rost, Lauströer and Raack: “Education for Sustainable Development should empower students and motivate them to assess environmental change by participating in societal development that balances the quality of life of living people and the opportunities for development does not restrict future generations “, According to the authors of the three sub-competences, in order to empower people, they need: a) System competence (understood as the ability and willingness to recognize individual phenomena as belonging to a larger system, both system boundaries and subsystems to recognize and form the functioning of systems b) the design competence (see above) and c) an assessment competence (understood as the ability to recognize different values in decision situations, to weigh them against each other and to incorporate them into the decision-making process).
All in all, one can come to the following preliminary verdict with regard to the presented target formulations: a) the currently prevailing definition of “design competence” in Germany is hardly well received in the international arena. There they are more or less oriented towards the formulation of UNESCO; b) however, the ambition to translate the overarching objectives of an ESD into measurable competences is a necessity, for example, in demonstrating the effects of Education for Sustainable Development (EDUC) education or in making sound recommendations for the creation of education for sustainable development. Unfortunately, the competency formulations available to date do not yet meet the criterion of measurability.
The former BLK program 21 and its follow-up project Transfer 21 show how the promotion of these design competencies might look in practice. Their workshop materials and project proposals are based strongly on the design competencies and mainly deal with the areas
Participation in the local environment
and innovative structures in school.
The themes relevant to ESD are extremely diverse, from customs and customs in other countries to the biotope in their own community, to the school’s own kiosk, where organic snacks and fair trade are sold. Methods such as interdisciplinary project weeks, student companies, cooperation between schools and companies, parent participation or simulation games (for example, simulated city council meetings) are becoming increasingly important in view of the goals of ESD.
Outside of school, the Working Group on Nature and Environmental Education Germany (ANU) has been carrying out projects since 1999, with the greatest support from the BMU, in order to anchor the issue of sustainability in educational practice – especially in non-school environmental education institutions. As a result, a large number of practical contributions have emerged that are structured according to key topics and are constantly being supplemented.
Construction and Housing, Energy and Climate Protection, Money / Economy / Economic Education, Mobility, Water, Nature Conservation, Agriculture / Nutrition / Health, Consumption, Participation are among the most important topics of education for sustainable development in the extracurricular area. It is important to have a precise target group address, which u. a. in the world of life, the value orientations and attitudes of the educational participants must orient. Are used participatory methods such. B. Open Space, future workshop or philosophizing with children.
In addition to the formal as well as the non-formal education sector, the field of informal learning is becoming increasingly important. It is a more “casual” learning that uses different methods than the typical teacher-student relationship, but can also be pedagogical. Examples are competitions or family visit in a zoo.
Since 2003, there is a commission “Education for Sustainable Development” in the German Society for Educational Science (DGfE). In 2004, it launched and justified a research program for ESD. There are four fields of research: a) survey research, b) innovation research, c) quality research, and d) teaching-learning research.
Fundamentals of empirical research on education for sustainable development are formulated by Rieß (2006). According to this, research on education for sustainable development belongs to the group of real sciences. It examines actions as part of education for sustainable development and its effects as a central topic. Depending on the object of investigation, very different research methods (qualitative and quantitative methods) of empirical social research can be used. The overall goal of research in the field of education for sustainable development, as in the other sciences, is the knowledge gain.
It can therefore be four subtasks:
the description of the facts (description) to be determined in the field of ESD (for example, the number of lessons taught in public sector ESD each year);
the explanation (causal analysis) of cause and effect relationships between realities in the field of ESD (eg the determination of the effectiveness of teaching methods to promote sustainable attitudes),
the forecast, which predicts future events on the basis of known cause-effect relationships and knowledge of the current situation (eg in connection with the question of what effects will a sustainability audit affect the members of an institution), and
the creation of a technology in the form of best practices, means, methods and rules for generating desirable issues in the field of ESD (eg recommendations for the work of non-school associates in the context of ESD).
Sustainability education by private industry
The private sector plays an increasingly important role in environmental and sustainability education. In recent years, as the seriousness of problems such as climate change and hazards to the environment have received more emphasis, corporate environmental responsibility (CER) and sustainability education has been discussed more frequently.
According to recent survey research conducted by GreenBiz in partnership with National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) and PwC, 73% of respondents indicated that their company is educating employees across the organization about its corporate sustainability goals.
Companies are anticipating that the value of Environment & Sustainability education (E&S) knowledge will increase and many are already providing some education to their employees. Nearly half of respondents to the GreenBiz survey whose companies have no current program believe their company will begin educating employees in the next two years.
There are a variety of organizational models for employee environment and sustainability education programs. For example, Cisco employees live and work in a Web 2.0 world and are comfortable collaborating online while Wal-Mart finds a person-to-person approach the most effective.
Some companies aim to raise environmental literacy among their employees so they can contribute to environmental improvements both at work and in the community. Other companies, seek to leverage employees’ knowledge and expertise to transform the company and its products and services to meet a sustainability vision. Organizations use a varied, creative set of methods to reach and influence employees including multi-departmental leadership, employee-led “green” teams, awards, online training, mixed-media communications and performance incentives Several companies also with external partners including non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to create successful E&S education programs.
Through its Business Sustainability Educational Roundtable, NEEF engaged leading companies, including Kimberly-Clark, Johnson & Johnson, Intel and others, to share and develop best practices on employee engagement http://126.96.36.199/business/member_resources.htm. A number of other reports have been published by the NEEF detailing the benefits of sustainability education in corporations and provide some examples and case studies of how corporations embed sustainability education into their operations.
The following individuals are associated with the sustainability education movement:
Betsy Boze of The College of The Bahamas
Victoria Waters, Green Education Foundation (GEF)
Gifford Pinchot III of Bainbridge Graduate Institute
Karl-Henrik Robert of Blekinge Institute of Technology
Goran Broman of Blekinge Institute of Technology
Debra Rowe, US Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development, Higher Education Associations Sustainability Consortium and the Disciplinary Associations Network for Sustainability
Sara Bourque of Algonquin College of Applied Arts and Technology in Ottawa, ON, Canada – Sustainability Educator and Consultant
Professional organizations often produce their own standards and best practices lists. The North American Association for Environmental Education has produced a detailed “Guidelines for Excellence” in educational programming. Some educational institutions that focus on ESD include:
Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education
London South Bank University, with a Masters program in Education for Sustainability
Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education
St Francis Xavier College (Canberra)
Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report
Prescott College, with a PhD program in Sustainability Education
Hermit Park State School
Centre for Sustainability
Creative Change Educational Solutions
Learning for a Sustainable Future
Marlboro College Graduate School
Maharishi University of Management
Green Education Foundation
Centre for Alternative Technology’s Education Department
Portland State University’s Nohad A. Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning
Sustainability Department and multi-disciplinary unit for Sustainable Development
University of Ottawa Institute of the Environment
Tokyo Global Engineering Corporation
Algonquin College of Applied Arts and Technology
Baltic University Programme, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden
Blekinge Institute of Technology Karlskrona, Sweden
Centre for Environment Education, Ahmedabad, India
International – Curricula Educators Association ICEA. Cairo, Egypt.
Global Action Plan (GAP) International
SWEDESD, the Swedish International Centre of Education for Sustainable Development, Visby
The Learning Teacher Network
The NOW! Organization
Moncton High School runs an ESD program in conjunction with Prof. Michael Fox from Mount Allison University
CCLP Worldwide, an international NGO having Special Consultative status with United Nations ECOSOC is involved with campaign of Education Charter International which supports the aims of ESD Education Charter International.
Awards for education programs aimed at promoting sustainability programs such as EfS
The Zayed Future Energy Prize, was proud to announce the launch of the new “Global High School Prize” category in 2012. High Schools from around the world will be requested to submit a business case for how they plan on utilizing the prize for the purpose of raising awareness on the importance of sustainability and improving the school’s environmental footprint. The Global High School Prize is also a UAE commitment to the UN Secretary General’s Year of Sustainable Energy for All, which was launched from Abu Dhabi on January 16, 2012.
The Educating Africa Award for Entrepreneurship in Education Awarding educational projects in Africa that are entrepreneurial, self sustainable and creating impact.
UNESCO Prize “Education for Sustainable Development”
UNESCO invited governments and non-governmental organizations with official partnerships with UNESCO to nominate 3 individuals, institutions or organizations working in the field of education for sustainable development In order to be part of the UNESCO award, provided that it participates in one or more of the five areas of work of the program of education for sustainable development.Where the value of the prize $150000 is divided among 3 winners. UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova awarded the UNESCO / Japan Prize for Education for Sustainable Development to SERES from Guatemala and El Salvador, JAYAGIRL from Indonesia and ROOTABILITY from Germany at a ceremony held at UNESCO headquarters in Paris. This award is the first to be presented since its inception in the field of education for sustainable development. This award is being funded by the Government of Japan.
A climate-friendly school is a school that uses education for sustainable development (ESD) to promote a culture of sustainability in which students, staff and families hold shared values and beliefs about the importance of taking action for a more sustainable society. Taking care of the environment and contributing to reducing climate change is an integral part of this. Climate action means different things to different schools. Some schools see climate action as key to “doing their part” to take care of the planet. For other schools, it is about addressing issues directly affecting them.
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