Education for Sustainability

Tags: education | sustainable development | ireland

This National Strategy on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) has been developed by the Department of Education and Skills (DES), in consultation with key stakeholders. It provides a framework to support the contribution that the education sector is making and will continue to make towards a more sustainable future at a number of levels: individual, community, local, national and international.

This strategy is primarily influenced by the national strategy on sustainable development, Our Sustainable Future - A Framework for Sustainable Development in Ireland (hereafter referred to as Our Sustainable Future), which was published by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government in 2012. It is also framed within the current context of limited financial resources. The result is an ESD strategy that seeks to challenge individuals, organisations and society as a whole, but particularly in educational contexts,through recommendations that are pragmatic rather than aspirational in nature.

The development of the strategy was informed by a public consultation process that was facilitated by the DES, and by key messages from relevant policy documents and research literature, both national and international. 1 Important policy documents included the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Strategy for Education for Sustainable Development (UNECE, 2005, 2009), the EU Council conclusions on Education for Sustainable Development 2010, and UNESCO’s Education for Sustainable Development – The Global Action Programme after 2014. This strategy has also been informed by previous work that was undertaken in this area by the DES, supported by ECO-UNESCO, in 2007.

The consultation process, combined with the key messages from research and policy documents, assisted in the identification of the overall objective of the strategy, a set of key principles to underpin that objective, and eight priority action areas (Box 3 below) that are intended to facilitate progress towards achievement of the objective.