Education for a Sustainable China

“Education, in its broadest sense, must be a vital part of all efforts to imagine and create new relations among people and to foster greater respect for the needs of the environment.”

Dr. Jayakumar, UNESCO Beijing

The China Association of Education for Sustainable Development (ESC) is a national network that has been formed to promote Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in both the formal and non-formal education sectors in China.


What is ESD?

Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) seeks to achieve sustainable development by empowering people through education to assume responsibility for creating a sustainable future. ESD goes beyond creating awareness of the knowledge and skills associated with sustainable development; it aims to foster respect and understanding for the values and perspectives necessary for nurturing sustainable livelihoods, as well as build capacity and use learning based strategies to help society shift towards a more sustainable future. ESD is based on the premise of ‘learning by doing.’ Each country, at the national and local level, will choose to address ESD in the context of their own needs and aspirations for sustainable development.


UNESCO (2005a) describes ESD as striving to promote sustainable development through four strands:

  • Promoting and improving quality education to share knowledge, skills and values throughout a lifetime of learning in such a way that it supports citizens to lead sustainable livelihoods;
  • Re-orienting education programmes from pre-school to universities. Emphasis lies on re-orienting curricula, as opposed to developing new curricula, to encourage content and pedagogy that support sustainable development with clear focus on developing the knowledge, skills, values and perspectives associated with change for a sustainable future;
  • Building public understanding and awareness through community education, including informal education through media; and
  • Providing practical training to businesses, institutions and civil society to build the capacity to carry out sustainable practices at the local, provincial and national levels.


The United Nation’s Decade of Education for Sustainable Development

The United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD) (2005-2014) aims to integrate the principles of sustainable development into all areas of learning. Guided by the fundamental principles and values for sustainable development outlined in international conventions such as the Earth Charter, the DESD seeks to foster the lifestyles that respect environmental integrity, economic viability, and a peaceful and just society for present and future generations. (UNESCO, 2005b)



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