The U.S. Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development (USPESD) was conceived at a November 2003 "Open Space" gathering held in Washington, DC that included almost 100 participants from a diverse range of sectors including K-12 and higher education, science and research organizations, conservation and environmental NGOs, faith communities, living institutions, youth advocacy organizations, government agencies and others. Convened by the National Council on Science and the Environment and University Leaders for a Sustainable Future, the group met to respond to the call by the UN General Assembly for a Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005 through 2014) and to consider specifically:
1) how the Decade could be leveraged to advance education for sustainable development (ESD) in the United States;
2) what were the opportunities for collaboration within and across sectors and
3) how could widespread engagement in the Decade by U.S. organizations be facilitated.  

"Sustainable Development" has been defined as "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs" (Brundtland Commission, 1987). "Education for Sustainable Development" encompasses all forms of learning -- formal and informal - that help achieve the "triple bottom line" of healthy environments, thriving economies, and just societies.

In late 2005, the Executive Team decided to incorporate the Partnership as a 501-c-3 non-profit. The  Board of Directors was elected in July 2006 and the first full Board meeting took place in November 2006.