The Education and Training Foundation (ETF) recognises the vital role the Further Education (FE) and Training sector has to play in combating climate change and achieving sustainability and social justice, both nationally and globally. We work to equip and enable the sector to deliver great quality, high-impact education for sustainable development (ESD).
Our vision is for:
The ETF’s ESD strategy has four objectives. We are working to:
You can find our more about our progress against these objectives in our latest Trustees’ report.
The most widely accepted definition of sustainable development is “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” This is a pretty radical concept as not yet in human history have we met the full needs of the present let alone those of future generations too.
Although they’re not without criticism, the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs), adopted by 193 countries, are a useful tool for further exploring sustainable development. They clearly and simply demonstrate the breadth of sustainability, acting as an entry-point and helping people identify the links between their objectives or subject matter and the issues central to sustainability. Sub-indicators and targets on all 17 goals reference education, so they also help educators see their role in working towards their realisation.
The SDGs are interconnected and cover environmental, social and economic issues as well as highlighting the need for partnerships and collaboration. Rather than look at one issue in isolation, the SDGs focus on how improvements in one area can help others and how improvements in some areas can have knock-on negative impacts for other goals.
The key to the achievement of the goals lies in leveraging interactions between them away from trade-offs and towards co-benefits, from vicious to virtuous circles.
UNESCO are one of the major enablers of ESD globally. They define ESD as
“[empowering] learners to take informed decisions and responsible actions for environmental integrity, economic viability and a just society, for present and future generations, while respecting cultural diversity. It is about lifelong learning, and is an integral part of quality education.”
The skills gap in relation to sustainability was identified over a decade ago, and has been discussed by various groups and stakeholders since.
There’s a difference between education about sustainable development and education for sustainable development. Both are important – the former helps develop specialists in sustainability, but we also need the latter, ensuring that all learners have the knowledge, skills, values and attributes to create a more just and sustainable world. This is not to say that all learners should have an expert knowledge of all the areas of sustainable development, but instead that learners have sustainable development knowledge, skills, values and attributes as a core competency and they understand how their subject area interrelates with sustainable development and can contribute to its realisation and have the values and agency required to act upon that knowledge.
ESD equips students with new knowledge but also new ways of thinking – the onus being on the need to promote learning skills that are resilient to change and are future-proofed.
Keep up-to-date with the ETF’s ESD work, including announcements when new resources, tools and support are launched.
Series of six sessions for teachers, trainers, and tutors across the FE and Training sector seeking to embed sustainability into their practice. Book your place now for these online sessions starting 27 September.
The pages below link to the resources, research and thought pieces already available.
This is a fast-moving landscape and we’re working at pace to enhance our ESD offer for the sector. Things we’re currently working on include:
If you’re looking for support or tools to enhance your ESD work and can’t find them, please get in touch – we’ll either signpost you to what’s available or use your suggestions to inform our work.