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The UNECE Strategy for Education for Sustainable Development

The UNECE Strategy for Education for Sustainable Development was adopted in 2005 by the High Level Meeting of Education and Environment Ministries in Vilnius.

The UNECE Strategy for ESD's  main aim is to encourage countries to ESD into all forms of their education systems and covers all levels from primary to tertiary, including vocational and adult learning.

 Education for sustainable development (ESD) means including key sustainable development issues into teaching and learning, such as poverty alleviation, citizenship, peace, ethics, responsibility in local and global contexts, democracy and governance, justice, security, human rights, health, gender equity, cultural diversity10, rural and urban development, economy, production and consumption patterns, corporate responsibility, environmental protection, natural resource management and biological and landscape diversity.

It also requires participatory teaching and learning methods that motivate and empower learners to change their behaviour and take action for sustainable development. Education for Sustainable Development consequently promotes competencies like critical thinking, imagining future scenarios and making decisions in a collaborative way. 

The UNECE Strategy for ESD is a flexible framework for implementing ESD and is to be adapted by countries based on their needs and priorities.

The Vilnius High Level Meeting of Education and Environment Ministries (2005) moreover adopted the Vilnius Implementation framework for the Strategy for ESD. The implementation framework sets out three phases of implementation, the first (until 2007) foresaw inter alia  the development of national implementation plans; the second implementation phase (until 2010) focused on getting the implementation of the national plans well under way and encouraged revision of plans where necessary while the third implementation phase (until 2015 and beyond) underscores practical implementation.

The Vilnius implementation framework moreover proposed the setup of an inter-governmental Steering Committee on ESD to decide on the Strategy’s implementation and review its progress. The Committee includes representatives of both sectors, environment and education, as well as observers from relevant stakeholders. It holds annual meetings in Geneva.

The implementation of the Strategy is monitored based on indicators developed by the UNECE Expert Group of Indicators. The first and second national implementation reporting cycled were carried out in 2007 and 2010; a third national implementation will be carried out at the end of implementation phase III (2015).

© United Nations Economic Commissions for Europe – 2013