What is ESD?

What is Education for Sustainable Development?

Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) encourages us to explore the profound inter-dependencies of environmental, social, and economic systems thereby helping people develop the knowledge, skills, values, perspectives, a sense of responsibility and practices needed to live within the limits of earth’s ecosystems, while ensuring the equitable distribution of resources, opportunities and the ensuing responsibilities for present and future generations.

The United Nations has declared 2005-2014 as the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (UNDESD).  The Decade is designed to “promote education as the foundation of sustainable society, to integrate sustainable development into all educational systems, and to encourage international cooperation in the search for innovative approaches to this task.”[1] 

In 2008, the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC) included Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) as one of the key activity areas in Learn Canada 2020, its framework to enhance Canada’s education systems, learning opportunities and overall education outcomes at all levels. CMEC has developed a pan-Canadian ESD framework for collaboration and action for advancing ESD in all jurisdictions.

In Canada, Learning for a Sustainable Future has taken the lead on a variety of initiatives that support ESD.

[1] Education for Sustainable Development in Canada: The Work of the Federal Government. Strategic Policy Branch, Natural Resources Canada. 2005.


For a more detailed overview of Education for Sustainable Development, please click here.

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