Education for Sustainable Development – Learning for Transformation. The Example of Germany

By Sascha Dannenberg and Theresa Grapentin


This paper addresses education as the central element of sustainable development. In the last decades several international commissions and organizations agreed on the importance of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), resulting in the proclamation of the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014) by the United Nations in 2004. Mainly based on the experiences of the UN Decade of ESD (DESD) in Germany, the paper introduces the concept ESD and especially the concept of Gestaltungskompetenz, which focuses on specific skills and capabilities needed to decide and act in situations of uncertainty and complexity. Significant achievements as well as shortcomings and challenges in implementing ESD are described and the Global Action Programme (GAP) is introduced as a significant advancement of DESD and a pivotal contribution to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

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