The World Future Council (WFC) has just released a pioneering new policy handbook, compiling the most exemplary policies and practices to advance Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). After working with 16 Environment and Education Ministries, the Rights of Children and Youth Commission of the WFC has gathered together evidence that shows ESD can play a central role in empowering learners of all ages to positively respond to the pressing global challenges facing us, such as climate change, biodiversity loss and inequality.
Given the huge challenges the world faces, it is clear that we need to teach, learn and live in a fundamentally different manner. The evidence shows Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is already helping to realise this transition. The new policy handbook explores some of the central features of policy, process and practice in some of the pioneering countries embracing these educational approaches. It examines some of the major trends and opportunities in introducing this more holistic, progressive, transformational education.
Education for Sustainable Development embraces hands-on and outdoor learning pedagogies counteracting the trends of indoor living and lack of contact with the natural world that has been shown to have real costs for the health and wellbeing of our children. It creates the conditions for an environmentally literate generation of problem solvers.
“As the growing school strike movements across Europe show, we need young learners with the knowledge, values and conviction to act in a just, inclusive manner and make sustainable development a reality”, says Alexandra Wandel, Executive Director of the World Future Council.
Dr. Auma Obama, Chair of the WFC Child Rights Commission and Founder and Director of the ‘Sauti Kuu Foundation’, says “Education systems need to be reformed to allow our young people to leave school motivated, creative and able to be self-reliant – mentally, socially and financially. As this comprehensive policy handbook shows Education for Sustainable Development encourages this transformation, empowering learners with the key skills, knowledge and self-belief to grow into their best selves. There is no time to lose!”
Jane Goodall, Honorary Councillor of the World Future Council and UN Messenger of Peace, says “Empowering young people to care for the world they inherit is the responsibility of every generation. Education for Sustainable Development is a powerful tool that gives young people, their peers and communities the knowledge and confidence to act on their beliefs, be part of something bigger and make a real difference.”
This handbook offers insights from around the world on how sustainable education can be implemented successfully in policy, in the curriculum and at the level of schools, universities and other places of learning, to build a better future for all. Countries like Scotland are making an explicit link between ESD and the skills needed to prepare young people for a sustainable economy based on renewable energy and more sustainable consumption and production patterns. Similarly Costa Rica’s policy to decarbonise its economy by 2021 specifically identifies ESD as part of a wider programme for public awareness raising, education and cultural change. Ultimately, ESD asks us assume active roles in creating a world we’d be proud to pass on to our grandchildren.
The handbook was supported by the Michael Otto Foundation, Janina Özen-Otto/Jua- Foundation and Ismail Özen.
- Download the handbook here.