Climate Change

Responding quickly and effectively to mitigate and reverse the effects of climate change is imperative for the international community to ensure a safe and healthy human future. Education for sustainable development will ensure that future generations have appreciation for and stewardship of the natural environment. Learn more about education for sustainable development below.

The concept of sustainable development is a pattern of social and economic growth in which goals for resource use focus on meeting human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but also for generations to come.  The future of our children and the ways in which they engage with the world are at the heart of sustainable development.  A child’s education, therefore, plays a key role in ensuring responsible growth. Rights-based formal and informal approaches to learning impart empathy and develop a sense of community, and allow children to be socially concerned citizens. 

Only through education will children grow in their capacity to use the world’s resources responsibly. Education for sustainable development is a means to guide children to love the world in which they live and understand that opportunities and resources are not infinite.  Through education for sustainable development, knowledge, skills, and social responsibility are imparted that help ensure children become caregivers of the earth for future generations. The process of education for sustainable development is dependent upon ensuring that all of the world’s children are provided with learning opportunities and have access to a quality education.

Sadly, sixty-one million children of primary age are out of school, suffering the acute and long-term effects of poverty and ill-health.  Increasing the number of in-school children with the capacity to learn is necessary to reduce poverty and ensure that all children can partake in education and learning opportunities that secure a sustainable future for our world.  

In June 2012, international and civic leaders convened in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (NDCSD), or Rio+20. Although progress was made in commitments to poverty eradication, green solutions, and human rights, a focused discussion on education at the heart of sustainable development was lacking.

Below are suggested resources on Education for Sustainable Development.  Please submit any other suggested resources for consideration to

Initiatives and Programs:

A World Fit for Children
“A World Fit for Children” is an outcome document from the Special Session of the UN General Assembly on Children held in 2002. This UNICEF document outlines an agenda that commits to taking measures toward managing natural resources and protecting and conserving the environment for future generations.

UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development
UNESCO is the lead agency for the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014).

Rio+20 Education Hub
This website is a portal to access education material about issues surrounding sustainable development and to provide tools and skills to help the growing generation become agents of change in the world.

Rio+20 Website
The Rio+20 official website  provides a breadth of information, including the themes of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (held in June 2012), member state information, major groups being discussed, multimedia resources, and ways to participate.

Invest in Children, Advance Sustainable Development
Correlated to the World Summit on Sustainable Development, Johannesburg, South Africa, 2002, UNICEF highlights the role of investing in children in order to advance sustainable development.

Learning for a Sustainable Future | World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE)
Recognizing that Education for Sustainable Development is a crucial driver for poverty eradication and the creation of green societies, this website focuses on efforts and techniques launched in the education sector to further this cause.  Articles, videos, and special reports are featured.


[VIDEO] Rio+20: An Introduction for Children and Youth
As a platform to engage children and youth in the Rio+20 discussions, a youth-led NGO called Rio+Twenties was created.  This video provides an introduction for children and youth about Rio+20 and what it means for them.


The Future We Want | Rio+20 Outcome Document (2012)
Released after the Rio+20 meeting in 2012 June, “The Future We Want” documents the commitments and resolutions made by heads of state, with civil society participation, as a result of the conference.  Commitments were made to education as important for a green economy, for work and social protection, and for sustainability training.  Seven resolutions were dedicated to ensuring access to quality education for all, gender equity in education, and a commitment to education for sustainable development.

Climate Change Education for Sustainable Development in SIDS | UNESCO (2011)
As a result of the UNESCO expert meeting held in Nassau, the Bahamas, September 2011, this report provides recommendations concerning the vital role of education in helping populations from the Caribbean, Pacific, and Indian Oceans adapt to the challenges of climate change.

2010 State of the World – Transforming Cultures – Early Childhood Education to Transform Cultures for Sustainability | WorldWatch Institute (2010)
This report, developed by WorldWatch Institute, outlines an agenda for cultural change toward achieving sustainability.  An entire section is dedicated to “Education’s New Assignment: Sustainability,” with a section on “What Is the Role of Early Childhood Education to Transform Cultures for Sustainability?”

The Contribution of Early Childhood Education to a Sustainable Society | UNESCO (2008)
This UNESCO report is a result of an international workshop, “The Role of Early Childhood Education for a Sustainable Society,” held in Sweden in 2007.  The workshop was built upon three themes: a) what education for sustainability might look like in early childhood; b) cultural issues related to sustainable development; and c) policy and research questions related to young children’s lives and sustainable development.

Develop a Child, Develop a Nation | Asian Development Bank (2000)
A report out of the Asian Development Bank provides evidence for how investing in children’s brains and bodies is essential for economic development and about the role of human development as essential in reducing poverty more sustainably.


Unsustainable Development: The Missing Discussion About Education at Rio+20 | Brookings (2012)
Brookings Center for Universal Education released a policy brief ahead of the Rio+20 meeting to outline five priorities in education that are critical to realizing the goals of sustainable development.

Education for All Global Monitoring Report Policy Paper: Reaching Out-of-School Children Is Crucial for Development | EFA GMR (2012)
EFA GMR and the UNESCO Institute for Statistics released a policy brief ahead of the Rio+20 meeting to raise concern over how progress on reducing the number of out-of-school children has stagnated over the last three years.  The brief highlights the need to understand which children are out of school and developing policies to reach these specific populations.

Teacher Resources

The Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education
The Cloud Institute provides services that prepare school systems and their communities to educate for a sustainable future through meaningful content and learner-centered instruction.  Of interest are the Cloud EFS Standards and Performance Indicators, which outline the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and habits of mind of Education for Sustainability.

A Teacher’s Guide: Incorporating Education for Sustainable Development into World Heritage Education | UNESCO (2010)
This teacher’s guide is a practical tool for teachers to modify available curricula and incorporate Education for Sustainable Development concepts and principles into World Heritage Education.


The Earth Is Our Home: Children Caring for the Environment
Hoot, James L., & Szente, Judit. (Eds.). The Earth Is Our Home: Children Caring for the Environment. Association for Childhood Education International. Olney, MD. 2010.

Education and Sustainability: Responding to the Global Challenge
Tilbury, D., Stevenson, R.B., Fien, J., & Schreuder, D. (Eds.). Education and Sustainability: Responding to the Global Challenge. Commission on Education and Communication, IUCN, Gland, Switzerland, and Cambridge, UK.


Children Central to Sustainable Future – UNICEF Executive Board Opens With Focus on Sustainable Development for Children (accessed June 2012)
UNICEF Executive Board met on 5 June 2012 in New York, NY, ahead of the Rio+20 meeting with opening remarks emphasizing that the survival, development, and protection of this generation of children are central to sustainable development.

Teachers to Integrate Sustainable Development Into Syllabus (Erdiston, Barbados; accessed June 2012)
This story provides an example of how sustainable development and living is being incorporated into the syllabus of teacher training programs in Barbados as part of the Ministry of Education’s initiative to celebrate UNESCO’s decade for education and sustainable development (2005-2014).

Topics of Sustainability:

Human Mobility Key to Green, Sustainable Development Agenda
Addressing issues related to migration and migrants is essential within any sustainable development agenda, as they play a role in transfer of knowledge and skills as well as policies related to health, education, poverty reduction, the environment, and equality.

UNESCO Encouraging Green Solutions to Challenges of Today, Tomorrow
On World Environment Day, 5 June 2012, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova highlights the role of science, technology, innovation, and innovation toward a more sustainable future.

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