Since the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992, sustainable development has been high on the political agenda.

Agenda 21, in its Chapter 36, specifically discusses promoting education, public awareness and training with special emphasis on:

  1. reorienting education towards sustainable development
  2. increasing public awareness
  3. and promoting training.

Then in 2002, in Johannesburg an agreement was reached to apply for a decade for ESD. UNESCO became the designated lead agency in the UN to promote the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD) (2005-2014). The main objectives for the decade can be found at: Reports, action plans for different countries, training modules and monitoring and evaluation can all be found here.

In the UK, the Decade was launched in December 2005 in a conference organised by the UK National Commission for UNESCO and its work and reports can be found at:


UK Decade Progress

In particular there have been 2 reports on progress and ESD actions since the beginning of the Decade:


Regional Centres of Expertise

The second main thrust of the Decade has been the creation of Regional Centres of Expertise RCE’s under the UN University. More information on these can be found at the RCE Network pages. The goal of the RCE Programme is to help in the creation of the global learning space for ESD by the end of the Decade. The major components of the ESD Programme are:

  • Advocacy and dissemination of ESD and DESD principles;
  • Promotion of regional/local approaches through Regional Centres of Expertise (RCE);
  • Strengthening ESD activities of higher education institutions;
  • Developing online learning for ESD; and
  • Training teachers and trainers on ESD.

In the UK and Ireland the RCEs are: