What is ESD and why do we need ESD?

There is no question that we as a society want and also need to shape our future sustainably. A decisive factor on the way to a sustainably designed future is good education.

The positive effects of education are numerous: it creates knowledge, provides food for thought, enables self-reflection, and reveals different perspectives.
To meet the challenges of our time, we need education that is geared to helping us master precisely these tasks. ESD can thus be described as a further development or a "new kind" of education.

Impart knowledge! But how?

Like classical education, ESD also aims to impart knowledge. However, ESD goes beyond pure factual knowledge. ESD makes connections and backgrounds clear, promotes complex understanding, points out conflicts of goals and intrests, and teaches skills that are necessary to be able to tread the path of sustainable development.

The focus is always on the relationship between people or society and the environment. Thus, the learners should be enabled to recognize, reflect and judge their own actions. In this way, each individual can realign his or her actions (if necessary) towards sustainability.

The following facts show how important ESD is for nature parks and UNESCO Global Geoparks:

In § 27 of the Federal Nature Conservation Act, ESD is defined as one of the tasks for nature parks.

Also in the criteria of the National Committee for UNESCO Global Geoparks in Germany, the promotion of ESD is firmly anchored as a core task.

However, pure factual knowledge is not sufficient to shape our future sustainably. This requires special skills, which are called "design competencies" in the field of ESD.

The Transfer 21 working group has developed 16 basic design competencies, divided into 3 thematic areas. The 3 areas include:

  • Methodological competencies
  • Social competencies
  • Self-competencies

These design competencies are intended to provide learners with practical tools to apply the knowledge they have learned, to recognize conflicts and to solve them in the spirit of sustainability.

ESD as an important key factor for sustainable development is also reflected in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations!


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