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19th European Roundtable on Sustainable Consumption and Production – Circular Europe for Sustainability: Design, Production and Consumption

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The 12 Key Issues of Education for Sustainable Development

Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is about enabling people to constructively and creatively address present and future global and local challenges, and create more sustainable and resilient societies. Empowering learners to maintain responsible lives and to address complex global challenges calls for new approaches to learning which will support the development of vibrant green economies and societies, and the emergence of a “global citizenship''. UNESCO is supporting countries to build education capacities, generate and scale-up actions, focusing on key issues as entry points for promoting sustainable development practices through education. The paper tries to elaborate and present 12 key issues of Education for Sustainable Development. They have been summarized after studying the available literature, enhanced by the author’s own experience. Also, they were tested at an international meeting of educators for sustainable development. The key learnings have been found to be: holistic education, stakeholders’ awareness, participation and cooperation, and building capacity of stakeholders. The challenge is timely evolution of the human society towards a deep transformation. The 12 key issues or chapters of Education for Sustainable Development are: 1. Scope: sustainability, definitions, holistic education at all levels (primary–tertiary), life-long, formal, non-formal and informal education, teaching and learning, key milestones, and competences 2. Environmental pillar: climate change, adaptation and mitigation, pollution prevention and zero waste, life cycle approaches, biodiversity, disaster risk reduction, the six Lisbon principles (responsibility, scale-matching, precaution, adaptive management, full cost allocation, and participation) 3. Social pillar: human rights, quality education, health and well-being, equalities (gender, income, living standard, creativity), decent work, hunger and poverty reduction, security, cultural diversity, sustainable urbanisation, and sustainable life styles 4. Economic pillar: resource (raw materials, energy, water, air, land) efficiency and circular economy, sustainable consumption and production, research and development, inventions and innovations, and entrepreneurship 5. Political pillar: vision, mission, peace and non-violence, democracy, rule of law, public awareness and participation, justice, strong institutions, power and influence distribution, equal development of cities, regions, nations and countries, partnerships, population control (towards zero-growth) 6. Methodologies: participatory teaching and learning, student-centred teaching, critical, interdisciplinary and systems thinking, creativity, and imagining future scenarios (envisioning) 7. Transformative learning and training, history, infrastructure and environments, developing case studies, financing of projects 8. Building capacity for educators and trainers at all levels, developing pedagogies, tools, literature, media, project reports and presentations (books, scientific and professional articles, PowerPoints, videos etc.) 9. Cooperation: empowering and mobilizing youth and aged people, intergenerational cooperation, cooperation between stakeholders (institutions, companies, etc.) 10. Institutions: UN, UNESCO, UNCED, UNEP, UNECE, UNIDO, UNICEF, EEA/EPA, CA, NGOs 11. Documents: international agreements, declarations, Sustainable Development Goals, international standards, Agenda 21, action, plans, and roadmaps 12. Sustainability metrics: indicators and indices, sustainability accounting and reporting.

Peter Glavič
University of Maribor


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