Education for a Sustainable Future

Blog of Evelyne PARA, SI UN Representative at UNESCO.

Education for Sustainable Development reorients education to empower learners of all ages to take action for environmental integrity, economic viability and a more equitable society. As part of the ongoing work on education for sustainable development, UNESCO organised a Side Event at the 42nd General Conference.

This Event highlighted the crucial role of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) through good practice and activities relating to greening education. On this occasion, the 2023 champion laureates of the UNESCO-Japan Prize on Education for Sustainable Development were also rewarded.

UNESCO’s work on ESD 

UNESCO supports its Member States to develop and expand educational activities focused on sustainability issues such as climate change, biodiversity, disaster risk reduction, water, oceans, sustainable urbanisation and sustainable lifestyles through ESD. UNESCO leads and champions ESD globally and provides guidance and standards. UNESCO also encourages innovative approaches and improves non-formal education programs through media, networks and partnerships.

Five main areas are particularly targeted:

> Advancing policy (Logo 1)

Policymakers have a particular responsibility to deliver the massive global transformation needed to bring about sustainable development today. They help create an enabling environment for the deployment of ESD in educational institutions, communities and other places of learning. Policy support is equally important for the formal, non-formal and informal sectors, as well as for creating synergies between these sectors.



> Transforming learning environments (Logo 2)

To encourage learners to become change makers who have the knowledge, means, will and courage to take transformative action for sustainable development, educational institutions themselves must be transformed, so that learning content and pedagogies are reinforced by the way facilities are managed and decisions are made within these institutions.



> Strengthening the capacities of educators (Logo 3)

Educators remain key players in facilitating learners’ transition to sustainable lifestyles, now  information is available everywhere and their role is changing. To guide and empower learners, educators must be equipped with the knowledge, skills, values and behaviours necessary for this transition. This includes understanding the 17 SDGs and their connections, as well as how transformative actions happen and what educational approaches to tackling gender inequalities can best contribute to their implementation.


> Empowering and mobilising young people (Logo 4)

It is today’s young people and future generations who will have to face the consequences of unsustainable development. It is their present and their future that are at stake. The empowerment and mobilisation of young people of all genders is therefore a central element in the implementation of ESD.




> Accelerate action at the local level (Logo 5)

It is in their daily lives, at the local level, that learners and people make their choices regarding sustainable development and put them into practice. It is also within local communities that people find partners for their sustainability efforts. Therefore, active cooperation between educational institutions and local communities should be promoted to ensure that the latest knowledge and practices in sustainable development are used to advance the local agenda.


The main results expected during the General Conference

The various round tables organised on ESD throughout the UNESCO General Conference aimed to:

  • Mobilise political commitment among Ministers present at the General Conference to ensure education’s role to address sustainable development and climate change, through school, curriculum, the capacities of teachers and education systems and communities.
  • Highlight the outstanding ESD and Greening Education Partnership (GEP) initiatives.
  • Create momentum for further engaging Member States to the Greening Education Partnership for accelerating climate change education and enhancing international cooperation.

Presentation of the 2023 UNESCO-Japan Prize for Education for Sustainable Development

Funded by the Government of Japan, the UNESCO-Japan ESD Prize was created by the UNESCO Executive Board in October 2014. Over the past ten years, several projects and exceptional practices have been rewarded around the world.

The winners of the UNESCO-Japan Prize 2023 were chosen from 92 nominations submitted by governments of UNESCO Member States and organisations in official relation with UNESCO.  The winners 2023 are Long Way Home (Guatemala), Kanazawa University (Japon) and Zimbabwe Institute of Permaculture (Zimbabwe). Each of them received a prize of 50,000 US dollars at the award ceremony organised during the 42nd session of the General Conference of UNESCO.

To know more:

Greening Education Parternership

UNESCO-Japan Prize on Education for Sustainable Development: 2023 laureates



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