Education for Sustainable Development & Global Citizenship (ESDGC)
Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship (ESDGC) can be defined as education that "...allows every human being to acquire the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values necessary to shape a sustainable future." UNESCO, 2014
It sounds deceptively simple when it’s refined to just a few concise words, however achieving sustainable development on a global scale is likely to be the biggest challenge humanity faces in the 21st Century. Paving the way to sustainable development will require a profound transformation of how we think and act.
What Are the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?
The United Nations has outlined the path to global sustainability by breaking down the complexity of the challenge into smaller pieces in a framework for sustainable development known as the “Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).” There are 17 clearly defined and well-constructed SDGs, which cover just about every jigsaw piece for achieving global sustainable development including poverty alleviation, consuming responsibly, ensuring access to quality education, reducing inequalities, taking action on climate change and many more. Check out the infographic below for the complete list of goals from the United Nations..
The UN Sustainable Development Goals are a universal call to action with the aim of achieving 17 extraodinary global objectives by 2030.
While the SDGs may seem like giant tasks, fortunately there is good reason to be optimistic. In the year 2000, for instance, the international community committed to cutting extreme poverty in half and, by the year 2015, that goal was met. This is a perfect demonstration of what can be achieved if individuals, communities and nations unite together in action for positive change.
What’s clear is that in order to create a more sustainable world and to engage with sustainability-related issues as outlined in the SDGs, individuals must become sustainability changemakers. They require the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes that empower them to contribute to sustainable development and take action on the SDGs. For the goals to be reached, everyone needs to do their part: governments, the private sector, civil society and people just like you.
How Do We Empower Individuals to Take Action?
How do we empower individuals to take action on the SDGs? That’s a great question and one that can seem quite daunting at first. One of the most important parts of the puzzle though is undoubtedly education. However, not all kinds of education support sustainable development. Education that promotes economic growth alone may well also lead to an increase in unsustainable consumption patterns.
Sustainability education empowers learners to take informed decisions and responsible actions for environmental integrity, economic viability and a just society for present and future generations. Using an experiential-based, student-led approach to learning, this approach differs markedly to most traditional forms of education currently offered in schools internationally.
This needs to change and that's why it's central to our mission and one of our biggest drivers. At Outdoortopia, our goal is to empower youth educators to activate young people through outdoor and experiential education to become sustainability changemakers for a better future.
I'm in. How Do I Get Started?
A good place to start as a youth educator interested in introducing children and young people to the UN Sustainable Development Goals is to go online to The World's Largest Lesson, developed by UNESCO in partnerhsip with UNICEF.
This is a brilliant source of information which includes everything from educator training courses to lesson plans, and from learner resources to action plans, all designed to unite individuals together in action to become sustainability changemakers.
What Can I Do Today to Make a Difference?
Change starts with you. Yes you. Every single human being on earth—even the most indifferent, laziest person among us—is part of the solution. Luckily, there are some incredibly easy things we can adopt into our routines that, if we all do it, will make a big difference.
For more information, check out the The Lazy Person's Guide to Saving the World,which outlines everything you can do to make a difference in your day-to-day life including while you're at home, outside home, at work and even while chilling out on your own comfortable couch!