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UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development

Goal of the UNDESD

The overall goal of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (UNDESD), which runs from 2005 to 2014, is to integrate the values inherent in sustainable development into all aspects of learning, to encourage changes in behaviour that allow for a more sustainable and just society for all.

The basic vision of the Decade is a world where everyone has the opportunity to benefit from education and learn the values, behaviour and lifestyles required for a sustainable future and for positive societal transformation.

The focus of the Decade is education and related communication - training and capacity-building strategies for promoting sustainable development, not sustainable development per se.

The importance of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)

For humans to all live sustainably, we must all learn the principles of SD — a process which involves not only learning new information but also thinking differently about our lives, actions, needs, environment, and how all of these elements interrelate. For this reason, ESD requires a great deal of consideration and effort, which is why UNESCO has dedicated an entire decade to the promotion of ESD.

ESD emphasis in UNESCO Action Plan
The UNESCO Action Plan for the Decade has four key ESD thrusts:
  1. Promoting and improving basic education, including literacy and lifelong learning for sustainable livelihoods, with an emphasis on access, opportunity and quality outcomes for children and youth in schools, out-of-school youth, and adult literacy.

  2. Reorienting existing education programmes at all levels so that the purpose, content and processes of education promote the social, environmental, cultural and economic knowledge, skills, perspectives and values inherent to sustainability.

  3. Building public awareness of the need for, and understanding of, the principles of sustainable development, with an emphasis upon the roles of the media and civil society in encouraging an informed and active citizenry.

  4. Developing training programmes to ensure that all sectors of society have the skills necessary to perform their work in a sustainable manner.