ESD stands for Education for Sustainable Development, which corresponds to Goal 4.7 of the 2030 United Nations Agenda.

How can we define the concept of Sustainable Development?

Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

UN World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987

Therefore, the development of human civilization can be defined as “sustainable” when it adapts all our activities to the need to preserve sources of raw materials and energy on our planet so that they never run short, ensuring the survival and further development of future generations.

This type of development, which will lead to and preserve the future well-being of all humanity, must be achieved through mechanisms that guarantee economic development, social progress, and environmental protection in parallel.

How can we orient and coordinate ourselves to achieve this complex goal?

A global goal calls for concerted action: for this reason, the United Nations drew up the 2030 Agenda.

It is an economic-social-environmental action plan that includes 17 goals defined as Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Each SDG is divided into additional “targets” (essentially quantitative indices that allow for self-evaluation of the effectiveness of the efforts put in place), which can also be monitored through websites addressed to the public, such as this section of the portal Our World in Data.

Moreover, to better understand the scientific basis of the SDGs, an important reference point is the research carried out by Johan Röckstrom and his definition of the concept of “planetary boundaries”.

How do we define Goal 4.7 (alias Education for Sustainable Development or ESD)?

Education is the most powerful weapon that can be used to change the world.

Nelson Mandela

The 4th SDG is Quality Education.

The education of future generations underpins the sustainable development of humanity in the future.

More than half the population of the planet is now less than 30 years old: it is the most populous young generation in the history of our civilization.

The integration of ESD (SDG 4, target 7) in school activities will allow today’s children to acquire – already during their growth – knowledge, skills, and abilities to manage effectively and consciously (finally more than what has been done by previous generations!) economic, social and environmental development so that it can achieve and consolidate the definition of “sustainable”.

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