Globalizing Education for Sustainable Development

Globalizing Education for Sustainable Development


As the COVID 19 pandemic which spread across the globe in 2019 within few months’ time almost every one on this earth started following COVID 19 protocol like washing hands, using mask, social distancing etc. But many people are not yet aware about the 17 Sustainable Development Goals & actions required to achieve them. Education for Sustainable Development: A Road Map by UNESCO will help the world community to achieve sustainable development goals through education.  The road map is truly global in nature because if implemented properly it has the potential to reach every teaching-learning spaces.  This road map identifies action areas on which governments, concerned stakeholders, civil society organisations & development partners at regional & global  levels need to act quickly.

1. Problem 

The world is facing two major problems, one is global ecosystem collapse & second one is ultimate interpersonal violence both of these are the products of human behaviour which requires addressing both environmental challenges & the complex social and economic issues such as inequality that are intertwined with the cause
and impact of these problems. The environmental degradation is the result of the collective activities of human beings which altered the earth’s ecosystems to the extent that our very survival is threatened. The lack of understanding the views & opinions of others & importance is creating a problem in inter-personal relations in our society. For any society to run smoothly & efficiently, there should be proper understanding & cordial relationship between its people. The Sustainable Development Goals Framework enlarge the consideration of understanding others, reducing inequality & taking care of natural world. Concerns raised in the road map:

  • What we know, what we believe in and what we do needs to change.
  • What we have learned so far does not prepare us for the challenge.
2. Solutions

The Agenda 2030 shows confidence and trust on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) which will help  learners with knowledge, skills, values and attitudes to take informed decisions and actions for environmental integrity, economic viability and a just society empowering all people. ESD is recognized as a key enabler of all SDGs and achieve its purpose by transforming society. It help develop empathy, solidarity and to take collective action to the success of individuals & survival and prosperity of the global community.


ESD for 2030 aims to build a more just and sustainable world through strengthening ESD and contributing to the achievement of the 17 SDGs.


To fully integrate ESD and the 17 SDGs into policies, learning environments, capacity- building of educators, the empowerment and mobilization of young people, and local level action.

SDG Target 4.7

By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.

How can ESD enable the achievement of the 17 SDGs?

  1. ESD raises the awareness of the 17 goals in education settings & enhances the understanding of learners and the general public on what the SDGs are and how these goals connect with individual and collective lives.
  2. ESD mobilizes action towards the achievement of the SDGs in education settings & communities.

Difficult tests in transformation:

  1. In order to start a journey on the path towards SDGs individual must be exposed to the reality and need to inspire to bring societal transformation.
  2. Individuals must know the deep structural causes of unsustainable development like inequality, poverty, etc. & need to motivate to participate, discover, explore, love & care, making a difference & working together for a better life.
  3. Make aware challenges of technologies & how to use them to achieve SDGs.

(…) transformation necessitates, among other things, a certain level of disruption, with people opting to step outside the safety of the status quo or the “usual” way of thinking, behaving or living. It requires courage, persistence and determination, which can be present at different degrees, and which are best sourced from personal conviction, insight, or the simple feeling of what is right. (Para 4.2, Framework for the implementation of ESD for 2030).

3. Priority action areas

Priority action area 1: Policy consideration

  • Review the purpose of education systems in light of the ambitions of the SDGs and modify learning objectives fully aligned with SDGs. Integrate ESD into curricula, assessment & education quality assurance criterion to measure progress on how well they develop learners’ capacities as change agents.
  • Strengthen relationships between formal, non-formal and informal education and learning & develop policy measures to encourage project-based learning on sustainability issues in the community.

Priority action area 2. Changes in learning spaces

  • Encourage learners to develop knowledge, means, willingness and courage to take transformative action for sustainable development.
  • Learning institutions should align themselves with sustainable development goals & ensure democratic decision making processes in which all stakeholders have a voice on challenges they face in institution.
  • Sustainable principles like green campuses, green audits etc needs to be followed by institutions.
  • Facilitate community engagement & partnership for interdisciplinary, project-based learning and action for SDGs.

Priority action area 3: Capacity building of educators 

  • Undertake ESD capacity development in pre-service and in-service training and assessment of teachers in primary, secondary and higher education. This will include learning content specific to each SDG as well as transformative pedagogies that help to bring about action.
  • Enable, motivate and celebrate educators who successfully integrated ESD into their teaching, making education more relevant to the demands of today’s world.

Priority action area 4: Empower & mobilize youth

  • Young people could use media to share messages on the sustainability issues & advocate for the inclusion of ESD in education settings & empower themselves to take action for societal transformation.
  • Youth organizations should create opportunities for young people to empower each other with transformational knowledge, skills, values and attitudes. This includes skills to advocate and speak up for young people’s causes and engage population on sustainable development issues.
  • Mobilize & increase young peoples participation in sustainable development through advocacy and communication including youth-led campaigns on how the goals are connected to their lives.

Priority action area 5: Accelerate local level actions

  • People & organisations should develop a local action plan on how the whole community can become a learning laboratory for sustainable development providing opportunities for all citizens to become change agents.
  • All people in the local community should actively take interest in key sustainability challenges, develop skills to analyse situation and trends, embrace values and attitudes that support a more sustainable future, and take action as responsible members of the community.

The above five priority action areas are to be implemented by Members States, regional and global stakeholders & development partners.

4. Implementation

To address one or more of the five priority action areas through multiple activities non-government actors can collaborate with government and should engage stakeholders. Implementation can be brought through following

  • Showcase best practices & outstanding ESD initiatives contributing to the achievement of the SDGs.
  • Provide learning material and resources on the SDGs, with relevant learning objectives.
  • Encourage a review of the 17 SDGs at local regional & global levels to identify relevant issues, trends to  find appropriate educational responses.
  • Explore funding sources associated with education.
  • Find creative solutions to implement ESD for 2030.
  • Embed ESD into education quality assurance criteria to assess the performance of education institutions.

You can see one interesting video on ESD here.

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