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At DEISO, we believe that Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is an essential component of modern education. This is essential to prepare for a generation of leaders that are aware and responsible for the global and local changes; participating in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), raise their awareness to the global, regional, and local issues such as climate change issue, resource depletion, sustainable lifestyle practices, environmental issues, and global crises, and participate in archiving SDGs. For these purposes, we offer the below professional services of ESD:

  1. Support for implementing ESD in the educational curriculum for educational institutes such as schools, undergraduate, and postgraduate programs.
  2. Syllabus development of ESD: We help educational institutes implement well-planned and research-based syllabi. We carefully develop them based on the UNESCO guidelines and literature (including journal papers, scientific reports, and ESD-focused book materials).
  3. Analysis of the current educational curriculum and integrating the ESD within it.
  4. Educational seminars, workshops, and training for educators or students.
  5. We provide strategic planning and consultation of ESD-related needs for our clients.
  6. We advise and guide on ESD research projects.
  7. We offer a professional consultation based on data-driven and evaluation studies for ESD plans, educational goals, and ESD research projects.
  8. We provide dedicated support to developing countries to implement ESD in their educational systems.
  9. We provide service-specific consultation, planning, and advice to governments, NGOs, and local and international organizations worldwide.
  10. We identify the stakeholders in empowering or implementing SDGs, communicate with them, and work together to facilitate the transition process to ESD.

You can also learn about our services for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). You can also join DEISO SDGs HUB free here.

Introduction to ESD and our Approaches to ESD Integration and the Shift from Traditional Education to ESD Based.

Background on ESD

The concept of sustainability was first introduced to education at an international level by the UNESCO-UNEP International Environmental Education Programme in 1975, jointly administered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) (Yarime & Tanaka, 2012). The term “ESD,” now is widely used, was first mentioned by the United Nations in its agenda 21, developed at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 (McKeown, 2002).

In Chapter 36 of the agenda, ESD was an essential strategy for meaningful, sustainable development in developed and developing nations. The United Nations found that the strategy was essential to help the nations shift from the conventional to a sustainable form of education. It was also essential to integrate education into sustainable development to tackle environmental challenges and other development issues such as equity.

The ESD goal was to promote sustainable development and improve people’s capacity to address environmental and development challenges. For that to be achieved, agenda 21 articulated four components: (1) improvement of primary education, (2) reorientation of basic education to address sustainable development, (3) development of public awareness, and (4) training of capacities. These components focused on enriching human wealth through improving education, reducing environmental impacts, and improving the economy. Society is the starting point for all. However, since then, the ESD concept and its implementation have shifted, advanced, and changed as new concerns arose.

The purpose of this page is to (1) review the first milestone of Education for Sustainable Development (also known as “ESD”), (2) discuss the world’s biggest challenges from a view, and (3) present our conceptual and practical approach to offering our clients with ESD mentioned above services.

When the concept of ESD was proposed, the concept itself conveyed a message that ESD is an essential tool for sustainable development regardless of its implementation in developed or developing nations. ESD was essential to help the countries shift from conventional education to sustainable ones. It was also essential to integrate sustainable development knowledge to tackle environmental challenges and other development issues such as equity.

ESD, in its first milestone, focused on capacity building through training. More important, it is to raise public awareness toward the century’s primary concerns. When the concept of sustainable development rose, there was a call for promoting education and the understanding of sustainability. The discussions were all on sustainable development, ESD, and sustainability. Those three components were produced to enrich human wealth through improving education, reducing environmental impacts, and improving the economy where society is the starting point for all.

The Main Message of the First Milestone

The First Milestone of ESD: The Significance of the First Milestone

Improving education is the primary concern of any country. Many nations have realized that it is hard to achieve sustainable development without improving education. Modes of education lack integration with society and an awareness of local, national, and global concerns. As a process, nations recognized education as a crucial tool for development through building capacities and integrating today’s concerns with curricula and implementing formal and informal education in an integrative manner. The first milestone was necessary because the world faced many crises, especially regarding the environment after decades of industrial development. Industrializing the globe brought up several issues. Significant concerns included environmental damage (e.g., air and water pollution), the depletion of natural resources, energy, and the oil crisis.

Changes in Conditions Since the First Milestone

Things have changed since the first milestone was published in agenda 21. More severe environmental, economic, and social issues have arisen. Examples include biodiversity, climate change, cultural diversity, disaster risk reduction, poverty alleviation, gender equity, health promotion, sustainable lifestyles, peace and human security, water management, waste management, sustainable urbanization, and food security. Water scarcity is one of the top concerns, especially in countries embroiled in conflict about shared water resources.

From a theoretical viewpoint, sustainability science as a new discipline has emerged. Sustainability science seeks to understand the interactions between global, social, and human systems (Steinfeld & Mino, 2009). ESD is nowadays integrated with sustainability science to address today’s primary challenges. As sustainability gradually influenced educational practice. The concept of ESD, therefore, emerged. ESD emphasizes aspects of learning that enhance the transition toward sustainability (Barth & Michelsen, 2012).

Lessons Learned from the Historical View of the Sustainability and ESD Concepts

The main lessons that can be gained from the historical view of the sustainability concept are stated below:

  • Sustainability is flexible and can be developed or elaborated overtime when facing different sustainability challenges that differ in their seriousness. The concept of sustainability proved its flexibility when facing, for example, global warming and water scarcity.
  • The concept of sustainability improved by facing new global issues. Human concerns in the 1990s differed from those nowadays. Recent problems have been raised and gained considerable attention, such as sustainable lifestyle, sustainable urbanization, etc.
  • The concepts of sustainability and ESD are problem-solving-oriented. Their capabilities have been improved over time to solve humanity’s most recent problems concretely.
  • The concept of sustainability and ESD transferred to a multidisciplinary concept that can cover different fields of knowledge.

The World's Biggest Challenges After the First Milestone and the Necessity of ESD Integration

Most problems arising from human activities’ impact on Earth’s life support systems come from complex, global, and human social interactions (Uwasu et al., 2009). When humanity deals with those problems, it can lead to sustainable development. While it is difficult to provide solutions, the implementation and development of ESD offer hope. The world must figure out solutions so society can be sustained at the international level. Those seven challenges can be summarized: population growth, the disappearance of cultural diversity, global warming, freshwater shortage, energy, and food. Humanity can respond to the problems through enhanced education with ESD implementation and international cooperation.

Population and ESD

The biggest problem associated with the population explosion is the depletion of the planet’s resources. Believe that education, at all levels, will help not only reduce effects associated with the exploding demographics worldwide but most of the other problems caused by the increasing population. Family planning, especially in developing countries, will be accomplished only by obtaining the education needed, from elementary school through college.

Access to education by all, regardless of gender, is vital in solving the problems. This injustice is slowly waning because women are more socially accepted today. However, there still an attempt to be made by the United Nations to promote education and fight for gender inequality. Also, local governments’ efforts to raise public awareness of education and gender inequality will encourage women to become more socially involved. ESD raises awareness and helps the young generation collaborate with society to face this issue or reduce its impacts

The Disappearance of Cultural Diversity and ESD.

Languages are one of the most building blocks of cultural diversity; it is necessary for international communication and business establishment. But now, the world is facing the disappearance of many languages. The dying of languages has been going on for thousands of years. However, in the past hundred years, a dramatic increase in the death and disappearance of languages has been seen, leading to cultural diversity’s disappearance. ESD is essential to preserve local cultures and languages by raising public awareness and understanding the social and national risks behind that, and participating in transferring both culture and language from one generation to another.

Biodiversity and Education for Sustainable

Every year or even every month, many species of animals and plants face extinction every day. This is because man is destroying nature, resulting in the disappearance of the ecosystem balance. In this context, ESD helps students, especially postgraduate students, in practical mitigation solutions by focusing on this topic in their graduation research work. They are interested in this issuer to take responsible and personal actions in practice and attitude to mitigate the issue.

Climate Change and ESD

Climate change or global warming is a hot global issue and one of the top serious ones due to its short, mid, and long-term consequences on Earth and people’s life aspects. To notably mitigate this problem, we need to establish societies with low carbon footprints. International cooperation can achieve this. There is a need to work harder in raising public awareness through ESD about global warming. This can be accomplished through ESD in several ways. ESD is one of the core starting points to word the climate change problem.

See our service for “CO2 Reduction Certificate”.

Water Crisis

The per capita water consumption has doubled since the 20th century. However, one of the most valuable UNESCO achievements is the establishment of the freshwater program. Because of this, 2003 was the International Year of Water at UNESCO. However, a mechanism must be developed to solve this issue through ESD. Public awareness is an essential part of sustainable water use and management for sustainable water use and utilization practices.

Energy Demand and Scarcity

Establishing sustainable sources of energy is a big concern, especially for industrialized countries. For example, before the 2011 earthquake, Japan increased nuclear power production to meet its energy demands. Now, the government is examining renewable energy alternatives. ESD can reduce energy consumption and the need to develop alternatives through research of postgraduate students, sustainable energy use at a personal level, and increasing public social awareness worldwide.

Food Security

In 1972, UNESCO issued a warning that the world would face a severe food shortage problem. This prediction has come true in Africa. However, the good part is that the problem is not yet global; the unwelcome news is that it is expected to rise globally. Agriculture plays a vital role in providing the world’s population with food, but global warming has negatively affected agriculture. Therefore, both issues are interlinked.

One significant initiative to tackle the mentioned challenges was through the United Nations’ Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD). In recognition of the importance of ESD to sustainable and human development, the United Nations established the DESD during its 57th session in December 2002. ESD is one of the core components to address food security issues at local and global levels. Awareness related to proper consummation, food waste reduction issues, research on agriculture, smart agriculture, food waste utilization in waste management systems.


DEISO Solutions Through ESD

Social Capacity Development

Social capacity development is reflected in the abilities, individually and collectively, to perform functions, solve problems and set and achieve goals. Capacity development is also called a capacity building or strengthening. It overcomes a micro-macro paradox in institutional change. Institutions are the essential rule makers in society, as they form the constraints that shape human interaction. They govern specific behavioral patterns repeatedly exhibited by people in society, whether formal institutions such as laws or informal social norms. Social sectors can be divided into three main categories: government, citizens, and firms. Here, social capacity must deal with environmental problems through individual and interactive efforts of social actors. Social capacity development is an endogenous, comprehensive, and sustainable process for solving problems in partnership with social actors and interaction with socio-economic conditions. However, the most critical aspect of social development is its unique capability to manage environmental challenges in a social system composed of the explained sectors. Those areas can contribute to development; more important, they can help attain the required socio-economic conditions as an essential step to achieve better, more sustainable solutions to environmental problems through ESD.

Help with International Cooperation

International cooperation has been changed from the traditional approach to an approach based on capacity development. The new broader scope covers higher budgets and a move toward human resources, especially in developing countries. One of the significant changes is that the new form of cooperation aims to achieve a more extended period with unambiguous selection criteria. Japan, as an example of a big donor, Japan International Cooperation Agency is one notable case of the change in the international cooperation between Japan and the outside world, not only regarding financial aid, which includes donations, loans, and grants but also regarding technical operation. In Japan’s case, the environmental sector domain covers residential environment, forest conservation, pollution controls and countermeasures, disaster prevention, and climate change. Japan has also established several environmental centers in some Asian countries, especially in East Asia. The World Bank is another notable example worldwide.

This section proposes a fundamental conceptual and an integrated framework to implement and improve ESD in developing countries through the developed world’s aid. The necessity of such a framework came from the idea that developing nations, especially low-income countries, lack the required knowledge, experience, and technical support to implement or improve ESD through all levels of education. The proposed conceptual and integrated approach is based on these assumptions:

DEISO can collaborate with all parties and stakeholders to facilitate this international collaboration through our departments and services. Check out our departments here.

Our Help for Implementing ESD in Developing Countries

Implementing or improving ESD in developing countries needs integrated components for successful implementation. Such components can be divided into two layers:

  • Background layer: society, culture, and education.
  • Foreground layer: health, environment, and economy.

ESD is the core of the multidimensional framework. The main dimensions are society, culture, and education. These three dimensions are integrated with two principal components, environment and economy. Following is a description for each:

  • Society: Society is an essential part of the integrated framework for social institutions’ role. Their roles in the change and development process to implement and improve ESD are relevant. It is a significant pillar supporting the other components and can be integrated with culture and education. This includes developing an understanding of society’s relationship, culture, education, economy, and environmental concerns at local, regional, and global levels.
  • Culture: Culture is not to be excluded from the development process of ESD. An understanding of its values that influence and shape the attitude and behaviors of stakeholders is vital. Societies need to learn about the diversity of cultures, values and how they affect people’s attitudes toward education, the economy, and the environment. Culture, in this framework, represents two sub-components: religion and attitude.
  • Education: ESD must be addressed based on education level (level of implementation) from elementary school to graduate school. The target of education has been defined and specified. Many universities are striving to integrate ESD into their educational activities. Appropriate student learning outcomes, course syllabi, course curricula, and assessment methods are in focus. One reason behind the current efforts is the UN DESD (2005–2014), which UNESCO handled, which aims to integrate the principles, values, and practices of sustainable development into education and learning (Segalàs et al., 2009).
  • Environment: Through society, culture, and education, environmental damage is expected to be reduced. Public awareness will be increased, and the community members will participate in maintaining the environment.
  • Economic: The economy is expected to be improved due to implementing/improving ESD through creating jobs and sustainable business. This will reduce the poverty levels and increase professional capacities to participate in society.

Challenges to implementing ESD in Developing Countries

The biggest challenges of implementing ESD are summarized below:

  • International cooperation is essential to solve particular ESD challenges and environmental problems as described.
  • More experienced countries need to transfer know-how and technology to make this project successful.
  • Key challenges include public awareness, funding, and policies and legislation.

We are Here to Help

Regardless of these challenges, DEISO is a well-established business to tackle such challenges and work together with companies, educational institutes, universities, local governments, NGOs and various stakeholders, and international and local funds organizations to resolve the issues as mentioned earlier.


The presented overview of ESD and the world’s biggest challenges that humanity is facing globally were explained. They can be mitigated or tackled by the ESD approach. DEISO offers various services to implement, enhance, or integrate ESD in the educational institutes from school to undergraduate and postgraduate programs. DEISO focuses on additional services on human capacity building (or human resource development) with ESD. It also offers dedicated services and special attention for developing countries to help them tackle the ESD-related obstacles. Also, for developing countries, we offer collaboration with international funds organizations to implement ESD for developing countries. You can contact us and discuss your organization’s ESD needs or plans.

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