Background to Learning for Sustainability

In 1997 the Brundtland Report 'Our Common future' highlighted the interdependence of our environment and social and economic development locally and globally and introduced the term 'sustainable development'. Learning for Sustainability, internationally known as Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), has its roots in the Earth Summit, the UN Conference on Environment and Development, held in Rio de Janiero in 1992.

The conceptualisation and pedagogies of ESD are drawn from a long history of national and international work in fields such as environmental education, development education, peace education, global learning and global citizenship. Many have been built upon contributions of distinguished Scottish thinkers including Sir Patrick Geddes who is widely associated with the original concept of sustainability and the notion of 'thinking globally, acting locally'; conservationists such as John Muir who pioneered the National Parks movement; and ecologists such as Professor John Smyth who co-wrote the education chapter of the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development.

In Scotland the term 'Learning for Sustainability' was introduced to schools education in 2012 following the report of the One Planet Schools Ministerial Working Group. View the report. Learning for Sustainability is viewed in schools as a concept and process which weaves together sustainable development education, global citizenship and outdoor learning into a unifying vision of learning for a better world.