Education for Sustainable Development

The ESD Awards

The German Commission for UNESCO and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research award institutions that are committed to education and actively promote sustainable development.

Whether day-care centres, kindergartens, schools, educational institutions, companies, businesses, associations, universities, networks or local authorities: the German Commission for UNESCO and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research are looking for diverse and devoted actors contributing to Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) within the framework of the UNESCO Programme ESD for 2030

This comprises actors and initiatives reaching people with innovative teaching and learning opportunities, with content and ideas that help to preserve our planet and make our societies more livable as well as actors and initiatives who are passionate about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  

Learning to change the world

What is ESD?
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Bringing about change together

The aim of the ESD Awards is to offer outstanding ESD actors and initiatives a platform and more visibility in order to broadly transfer ESD to learners of all generations and the local level. Thus, the awards contribute to the United Nations’ Decade of Action as well as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda. With the help of ESD, learners acquire knowledge and skills to actively and responsibly shape a sustainable future.


Prof. Dr. Maria Böhmer, President of the German Commission for UNESCO

Successful ESD applicants receive the UNESCO programme’s logo for their work, are featured on the website of the German Commission for UNESCO and benefit from exchanges with other high-quality education initiatives – for example at annual network meetings. In addition, the German Commission for UNESCO offers all actors advice on further developing their ESD activities.

Interested actors and initiatives can apply for an ESD Award throughout the entire year. Excellent applicants are honoured at regional award ceremonies up to three times a year.

Background: The ESD Awards 2016 to 2019

From 2016 to 2019, the German Commission for UNESCO and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research awarded local authorities, learning spaces and networks for their exemplary implementation of ESD as part of the UNESCO Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development: a total of 309 initiatives (148 learning spaces, 30 local authorities, 131 networks) were honoured.

“ESD for 2030” now represents the kick-off of  the new ESD Awards that explicitly foster actors and initiatives contributing to the SDGs and to the transfer of ESD into society in applying transformative learning approaches.

Looking for inspiration?

At the end of four successful award rounds and as a representation of the great commitment of numerous learning spaces, networks and local authorities, the publication Solid Structures. Award-winning local ESD focuses on 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.

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.


Solid Structures: Award-winning ESD up close.
Deutsche UNESCO-Kommission, 2021

Additional article

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Education for Sustainable Development

Sustainable Development is achieved once people around the world live together in dignity and develop their personality taking into account resource scarcity and the inherent value of natural heritage - today and in the future.
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Video Series "Living ESD"

Education for Sustainable Development

Video Series "Living ESD"

Video series on Education for Sustainable Development by the German Commission for UNESCO and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.
read more