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Education for Sustainable Development

Eco-Schools USA is a program that provides a framework to help educators integrate sustainable principles throughout their schools and curriculum. But just what does “sustainability” mean for your classroom or your school as a whole? 

Sustainability is often defined as “meeting human needs today in such a way that future generations can meet their own needs.” This definition was developed from a U.N. Commission document titled "Our Common Future" or the Brundtland Report, published in 1987. This basic but important definition has served as the foundation for many sustainability efforts that have developed around the globe since that time.

Education for Sustainable Development
Sustainable development cannot be achieved by technological solutions, political regulation, or financial instruments alone. We need to change the way we think and act. This requires quality education and learning for sustainable development at all levels and in all social contexts. Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is about enabling us to constructively and creatively address present and future global challenges and create more sustainable and resilient societies.

In a world of seven billion people, with limited natural resources, individuals and societies have to learn to live together and take responsible actions based on the understanding that actions here and today can have implications for the lives and livelihoods of people in other parts of the world, as well as for future generations.

Empowering learners to live responsible lives and to address complex global challenges means that education has to promote competencies like critical thinking, imagining future scenarios, and making decisions in a collaborative way. This calls for new approaches to learning, the development of vibrant green economies and societies, and the emergence of a “global citizenship.”

UNESCO supports countries to build ESD capacities, and generate and scale-up actions, focusing on key issues—climate change, biodiversity, disaster risk reduction, water, cultural diversity, sustainable urbanization and sustainable lifestyles—as entry points for promoting sustainable development practices through education.

Learn more about Education for Sustainable Development and about the 17 related goals.





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