What is Sustainable Development? The Role of Education in Achieving Sustainable Development

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What is Sustainable Development?

Sustainable development means “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Sustainable development recognises that growth must be both inclusive and environmentally sound to reduce poverty and build shared prosperity for today’s population and to continue to meet the needs of future generations. It is efficient with resources and carefully planned to deliver both immediate and long-term benefits for people, planet, and prosperity.

The three pillars of sustainable development are economic growth, environmental stewardship, and social inclusion.


The Role of Education in Achieving Sustainable Development

Education plays a significant role in imparting knowledge, skills and values capable of changing peoples’ attitudes towards environment. Worldwide, leaders have emphasised the need for reorientation of current education systems as key to sustainable development.

Education can inculcate sustainable lifestyles in youngsters. Incorporation of key environmental challenges like climate change into core subjects like math, science and art can make the students be in a better position to take the lead in changing behaviours and adopting sustainable lifestyles.

As schools no longer function in isolation, their integration with the world outside has exposed students to different people and cultures’, giving them the opportunity to appreciate what the planet offers, while respecting the need to use resources efficiently and responsibly.

Today, concepts such as Education for sustainable development (ESD) has emerged. It seeks to develop the knowledge, skills, values, attitudes and behaviours in people to care for their environment. The aim of ESD is to enable people to make decisions and carry out actions to improve our quality of life without compromising the planet. It also aims to integrate the values inherent in sustainable development into all aspects and levels of learning.

Education remains the backbone of development. The ultimate goal in the recently launched Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is: “Transforming the World”. Lessons from history in the development of countries and societies has shown convincingly that education is central to achieving this goal.

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