Sustainable development education

The goal of sustainable development is to enable all people throughout the world to satisfy their basic needs and improve the quality of their lives without compromising the quality of life for future generations.

Delivering the curriculum through sustainable development education

Developing our children and young people as global citizens through sustainable development education is a key context for learning within Curriculum for Excellence. Sustainability issues feature prominently in the experiences and outcomes and offer learners an opportunity to engage with complex ethical issues relating to climate change, social justice, interdependence, health and wellbeing and biodiversity.

In this regard sustainable development education is an ideal vehicle for interdisciplinary learning and can be used to bring relevance, depth, challenge and breadth to learning.

Embedding themes relating to sustainability within the curriculum, and in the life of the school, develops our children and young people as global citizens and equips them with skills, values and attributes for learning, life and work. It is estimated that 130,000 new jobs will be created in the next 10 to 15 years as Scotland makes a transition to a low carbon economy – up to 95,000 of these will be in the energy sector.

Using sustainable development education as a context for learning empowers learners to contribute to this process of change within society and also helps them to develop the skills required to access exciting career opportunities.

If Scotland is to realise its ambitions to move towards a low carbon, zero waste future and deliver on the commitments outlined in Learning for Change: Scotland’s action plan for the second half of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development then it is also important that we promote effective collaboration between all education sectors including schools, youth and community learning, and further and higher education.

What is sustainable development education?

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More from Education Scotland

  • Sharing practice

    Examples of how global citizenship has been embedded into learning, teaching and the life of educational establishments.

  • Resources

    Resources to help staff implement global citizenship in Curriculum for Excellence.

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Go to the Exploring Climate Change website, a resource for Scottish secondary schools to encourage young people to investigate and act to tackle climate change
Gain essential background information about climate change as well as easy access to topical news and resources.
Go to the Schools Global Footprint resource and calculate your school's impact on the environment


Logo linking to Rio+20 - The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development