The U.S. Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development

WHAT IS ESD? an introduction

There is no universal model of education for sustainable development (ESD). Within a broad range of agreement to attain the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), there will always be nuanced differences according to local contexts, priorities and approaches.

"Education for Sustainable Development is an emerging but dynamic concept that encompasses a new vision of education that seeks to empower people of all ages to assume responsibility for creating a sustainable future."
(UNESCO 2002, "From Rio to Johannesburg" p.1)

Sustainable development is often defined as: "meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."
(Brundtland Commission, United Nations 1987)

Sustainability has also been defined as follows: "Sustainability is achieved when all people on Earth can live well without compromising the quality of life for future generations."
(Rolf Jucker, 2003. UNESCO's Teaching and Learning for a Sustainable Future: A critical Evaluation in the Trumpeter Volume 19 Number 2)

Environmental, community and economic health are all vital components of sustainable development.

Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is more than the acquisition of knowledge. It includes all activities that help to create a population that is both literate about the sustainability challenges and engaged in the solutions. ESD is aimed at stimulating and enhancing actions for a sustainable future.