ESDG stands for Education for the Sustainable Development Goals.

Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) has been a long-standing body of work carried out by universities, schools and civil society for many years to work towards a more prosperous, socially just and ecologically healthy world.

ESD is about the kinds of education, teaching and learning that appear to be required if we are concerned about ensuring social, economic and ecological well-being, now and into the future.” Stephen Sterling, 2011

DMU students discussing the SDGs in a workshop

The focus of ESD is not just on learning about sustainability issues such as climate change, health inequalities and preserving biodiversity in the oceans.

ESD also aims to develop people as active agents of change – developing the required competencies such as systemic and strategic thinking and interpersonal skills to be able to effectively collaborate to promote sustainability in a range of settings.

For this reason, universities have a key role to play in education for sustainability – potentially inspiring and training students (along with staff and the university’s wider community) to make a positive difference for the rest of their lives.

ESD is increasingly being framed in terms of the contribution it can make towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which gives us the emerging concept of “ESDG” (Education for the Sustainable Development Goals).

Below are a range of key resources that introduce ESD and ESDG in a national and international context, including accessible advice on how to put ESD into practice. (See also the pages on Teaching Resources for further ideas.)

UK Guidance on implementing ESD

The Future Fit Framework (2012). Developed by the Higher Education Academy (HEA) with Prof Stephen Sterling from the University of Plymouth. An accessible introduction to ESD in practice.

ESD Guidance for HE Providers (2014). Developed by the HEA and Quality Assurance Agency (QAA), defining ESD and providing guidance on implementation for programme design.

Sustainable Education (2019). Website containing key ideas from Prof Stephen Sterling

Responsible Futures Criteria (2017). An overview of activities at institutional and programme level that universities and colleges can employ to promote ESD. DMU is a participant in Responsible Futures and was successfully audited in March 2019.

Key International Texts

Global Action Plan on ESD (2018). Key documents from the UNESCO-led work to promote Education for Sustainable Development and action towards SDG#4 on Quality Education.

UNESCO Policy Brief: ESD and the SDGs (2018). A short overview on linkages between ESD and the SDGs.

Commonwealth Curriculum Framework for the SDGs (2017). Detailed guidance on developing taught courses to address the SDGs (both holistically and individually), aiming to transform: knowledge and understanding; skills and applications; values and attitudes.

Education for Sustainable Development Goals: Learning Objectives (2017). UNESCO guidance on developing teaching and learning to  address the SDGs.