May 10, 2018

Thoughts on Education for Sustainable Development

The concept of sustainability was first introduced to education at an international level by the UNESCO-UNEP International Environmental Education Programme in 1975, jointly administered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) (Yarime & Tanaka, 2012). The term “Education for Sustainable Development; ESD” the United Nations first mentioned it in its Agenda 21, which was developed at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and is now widely used (McKeown, 2002). In Chapter 36 of the agenda, ESD was described as a key strategy for meaningful, sustainable development in developed and developing nations. The United Nations realized that the strategy was important to help countries shift from the conventional to a sustainable form of education. It was also essential to take into consideration education into the process of sustainable development to tackle the environmental challenges and other development issues such as equity. The goal of ESD was to promote sustainable development and to improve the capacity of people to respond to environment and development challenges. For that to be attained, Agenda 21 articulated four components: (1) improvement of primary education, (2) reorientation of basic education to address sustainable development, (3) development of public awareness, and (4) training of capacities. These components focused on enriching human wealth through improving education, reducing environmental impacts, and improving the economy, while society is the starting point for all. However, since then, the concept of ESD and its implementations have shifted, advanced and changed as new concerns rose up.