Education for Sustainable Development
Sustainable development is achieved once people around the world live together in dignity and develop their personality while taking into account resource scarcity and the inherent value of natural heritage - today and in the future.
This requires future-oriented thinking and action. Individuals worldwide need skills in order to understand the impact of their own actions and to learn how to deal with changes and risks. They need knowledge, skills, attitudes and values that enable responsible behaviour.
“ESD for 2030” - Towards Achieving the SDGs
In 2020, UNESCO launched its new ESD programme “Education for Sustainable Development: Towards achieving the SDGs (ESD for 2030)”. In line with the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the related 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the programme runs until 2030. With just 10 years to go, an ambitious global effort is needed to deliver the SDGs by 2030. With the new programme, UNESCO supports the “Decade of Action” and contributes to accelerating sustainable solutions to all of the world’s biggest challenges. “ESD for 2030” aims to scale up its focus on the interlinkages and tensions among different SDGs and to provide learners with opportunities to practice balancing them. In doing so, the programme also draws on tried and tested formats from previous years: the five priority action areas, the UNESCO-Japan Prize on ESD and the national and international partner networks are systematically developed further.
What is ESD?
UNESCO World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development 2021
“ESD for 2030” was launched in May 2021 at the international conference "Learn for our Planet. Act for Sustainability" organised by UNESCO and supported by the German Government as host. The conference provided impulses to further strengthen ESD in educational policy and practice and accompanied the strategic design of the new programme. It highlighted the crucial role of Education for Sustainable Development as a key enabler for the successful achievement of all SDGs, the COVID rebuilding process and the creation of a momentum for strengthening ESD worldwide. The conference was held as a virtual conference from 17 to 19 May, 2021 in Berlin and was followed by a National Launch Conference of Germany. Some programme items were recorded and can be accessed online. Further information was published on the UNESCO Conference website and the German ESD Portal.
Climate Neutral Conference
The first digital UNESCO World Conference for ESD was also the first climate neutral digital conference of its size. CO² emissions were offset by supporting international climate protection projects that contribute to the United Nations Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). More information can be found in the event report from myClimate.
Education for Sustainable Development in Germany
The German ESD Process
The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is in charge of implementing the UNESCO programmes on Education for Sustainable Development on behalf of the German Government. During the last years, the BMBF has set up a broad, participatory multi-stakeholder process that includes other ministries, the Länder and municipalities as well as actors from science, business and civil society to structurally anchor ESD in Germany. The National Platform on Education for Sustainable Development is the supreme steering body of this process and brings together approximately 40 high-level representatives of politics, science, industry and society. Prof. Dr. Maria Böhmer, President of the German Commission for UNESCO, is a member of the National Platform. Walter Hirche, former Minister and member of the Board of the German Commission for UNESCO, functions as its international advisor.
Based on the members' expertise as well as input from expert forums and partner networks, the Platform defined strategic objectives and adopted a National Action Plan to implement ESD in Germany in 2017. The basic idea is that only with a joint commitment to ESD by all relevant actors will it be possible to anchor sustainability in education and education in sustainability discourses and activities. With 130 short, medium and long-term goals, the National Action Plan targets education plans and curricula as well as pre- and in-service training and education of educators and trainers in formal, non-formal and informal education. Furthermore, the plan focuses on strengthening ESD networks and good practice as well as whole-institution approaches to ESD.
The German ESD Awards
When it comes to making Education for Sustainable Development a reality, very much depends on its implementation in the field. From metropolitan Hamburg to rural Mecklenburg - ESD is on the map throughout Germany. Many inspiring examples show how rethinking in the direction of sustainability can succeed and how ESD can be brought to life in a holistic manner. Such pioneers are recognized by the German Commission for UNESCO and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research for their outstanding commitment: Between 2016 and 2019, 148 learning spaces, 131 networks and 30 local authorities in Germany have received a total of 309 ESD awards. From 2021, the ESD Awards continue within the “ESD for 2030” framework and honour outstanding ESD activities, giving them the visibility they deserve.
Best Practice Examples
After four successful ESD Award rounds, the publication "Solid Structures. Award-winning ESD up close" introduces five initiatives that the German Commission for UNESCO visited on-site in 2019. They all implement ESD in a particularly holistic way and have already established "solid structures" of ESD. In authentic and lively portraits, the initiatives report on their development, their plans, challenges and visions for the future.
Based on the three focus areas of the new UNESCO programme "ESD 2030" - transformative actions, structural changes and the technological future - the video series "ESD Living" presents actors who have been recognised for their commitment by the German Commission for UNESCO and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research through the German ESD Awards and/or who are decisively shaping and contributing to the national ESD process are presented in each of the videos.