Education for Sustainable Development: Framing The Future We Want For All

education-for-sustainable-developmentAs of today, two years before the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) reach their target date of 2015, the global community has launched various international and national thematic consultations on elaborating a future development agenda.

The processes of evaluating and advancing the current MDG framework and the process of developing a proposal for new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are at the heart of discussions.

At the 68th UN General Assembly in September 2013, these two processes are expected to be integrated into a single global development agenda beyond 2015.

The objective of this article is to stress the importance of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) for a successful implementation of a global and sustainable development agenda.

Education for Sustainable Development

The World Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD, 2005 to 2014) is a UN initiative aiming at integrating the principles of sustainable development into educational concepts around the world, with UNESCO being its lead agency.

From my perspective, a new global development agenda requires the combination of top-down and bottom-up approaches. This combination would make sure that regional and local demands are appropriately considered and acknowledged on the highest political level.

Furthermore, political statements should address urgent global challenges and should be binding for political authorities. I recommend the implementation of Education for Sustainable Development as the central element and the underlying pillar for the future sustainable development agenda and highlight five core recommendations, which are of the highest importance to realize The Future We Want for All:

1. Establishing Education for Sustainable Development as the main characteristic of quality education in the 21st century.

2. Integrating Education for Sustainable Development in technical and vocational education and training programmes to combat youth unemployment and thereby to develop sustainable and participatory societies.

3. Building a network of change agents and grassroots on the principles of Education for Sustainable Development to complement top-down processes by bottom-up activities.

4. Developing understandable and accountable Education for Sustainable Development indicators to ensure successful implementation into the new global development agenda and into regional and local education systems.

5. Applying Education for Sustainable Development for all sustainable development processes as the central element for implementation.

About the Author Katrin Heeren

A professional expert in sustainability, sustainable energy and climate change topics, with over 15 years of work experience in various projects on sustainability and policy related issues, Katrin holds a M.Sc. equivalent degree in geology and completed a post-graduate environmental sciences course in 2010. Katrin worked on national climate policy for the German Federal Environment Agency, on international climate policy and carbon finance as GIZ consultant to the German Federal Environment Ministry, and she was involved in the intergovernmental founding process of the International Renewable Energy Agency in 2008. She is experienced in communicating complex subjects to diverse target groups and especially interested in creative writing and storytelling.

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