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What is Education for Sustainable Development?

The goal of Education for Sustainable Development is to provide students with the knowledge, skills and experiences required for responsible citizenship. In examining key themes related to securing a sustainable future (climate, biodiversity, poverty, social justice, to name a few) ESD emphasizes the interdependence which characterizes the world in which we live. It requires students consider the interplay among the environment, economy and health of a society when exploring these issues.

In an effort to bring attention to and support the crucial role education plays in advancing sustainability, The United Nations declared 2005-2014 as the “Decade of Education for Sustainable Development. Monitoring efforts have revealed the benefits of ESD implementation have been consistent and profound. Perhaps the most significant contribution of ESD in the classroom has been a renewal of the process of teaching and learning. ESD’s emphasis on systems thinking, values-based learning, subject integration and linking knowledge to action have brought to the forefront these and other key learning strategies that are changing how teachers teach.

As a follow up to the Decade, UNESCO will be launching a Global Action Programme on ESD in 2014 to ‘scale up’ action in all areas of education for sustainable development. Five priorities for GAP include advancing policy, integrating sustainability practices into education and training, increasing the capacity of educators and trainers, empowering youth and encouraging local municipalities to develop community-based ESD programmes.

Since 1991 Learning for a Sustainable Future has been leading Canada’s efforts in ESD. In addition to its key role in reorienting education policy to embrace the principles of sustainable development, LSF has been instrumental in transforming teaching and learning. Through its innovative resources, professional development opportunities for teachers and youth empowerment programs for students, LSF continues to advance ESD and improve classroom practice.