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Educator Competences for ESD

Expert Group on Educator Competences

A priority of the Strategy is to engage educators in ESD. However, Ministers identified the lack of educator competences as a frequent bottleneck in achieving ESD at the Belgrade Ministerial Conference in 2007 and subsequently mandated an Expert Group to address this challenge.


The Expert Group on Educator Competences, which includes experts from academia, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, produced a set of educator competences.


Those competences are as far as possible concrete and of a nature and character that could be monitored and reasonably assessed. This framework for the professional development of educators will serve as a tool to facilitate the integration of ESD into all educational programmes at all levels.   


In addition, the Expert Group drafted general recommendations for policy makers in order to provide them with a tool to integrate the framework of competences in ESD into relevant policy documents. Those recommendations are to support the creation of an enabling environment for the development of educator competences across all sectors of education, with particular focus on formal education.


The Steering Commitee adopted the document as drafted by the Expert Group at its sixth meeting.


Download the educator competences and recommendations for policy makers as a printable file: ENG, FRE, RUS


Sub-regional workshops to adapt the Competences to national and local contexts



The Steering Committee at its sixth meeting stressed the importance of  “localizing” the Competences, i.e., adapting them to local contexts and making them more specific. The Committee encouraged countries to use the outcome document of the Expert Group on Competences in ESD and work on the implementation and adaptation of these recommendations at the national level during the current year. To this end, sub-regional workshops will be organised in 2011 and 2012.


 Core competences in ESD for educators




Integrative thinking and practice


Past, present and future


People, pedagogy and education systems





Learning to know


The educator understands….


  • the basics of systems thinking
  •  ways in which natural, social and economic systems function and how they may be interrelated
  • the interdependent nature of relationships within the present generation and between generations, as well as those between rich and poor and between humans and nature
  • their personal world view and cultural assumptions and seek to understand those of others
  • the connection between sustainable futures and the way we think, live and work
  • their own thinking and action in relation to sustainable development
  • the root causes of unsustainable development
  • that sustainable development is an evolving concept
  • the urgent need for change from unsustainable practices towards advancing quality of life, equity, solidarity, and environmental sustainability
  • the importance of problem setting, critical reflection, visioning and creative thinking in planning the future and effecting change
  • the importance of preparedness for the unforeseen and a precautionary approach
  • the importance of scientific evidence in supporting sustainable development
  •  why there is a need to transform the education systems that support learning
  •  why there is a need to transform the way we educate/learn
  •  why it is important to prepare learners to meet new challenges
  • the importance of building on the experience of learners as a basis for transformation
  • how engagement in real-world issues enhances learning outcomes and helps learners to make a difference in practice

Learning to do


The educator is able to.…


  • create opportunities for sharing ideas and experiences from different disciplines/places/cultures/generations without prejudice and preconceptions
  • work with different perspectives on dilemmas, issues, tensions and conflicts
  • connect the learner to their local and global spheres of influence  
  • critically assess processes of change in society and envision sustainable futures
  • communicate a sense of urgency for change and inspire hope
  • facilitate the evaluation of potential consequences of different decisions and actions
  • use the natural, social and built environment, including their own institution, as a context and source of learning
  • facilitate participatory and learner-centred education that develops critical thinking and active citizenship
  • assess learning outcomes in terms of changes and achievements in relation to sustainable development

Learning to live together


The educator works with others in ways that….

  • actively engage different groups across generations, cultures, places and disciplines
  • facilitate the emergence of new worldviews that address sustainable development
  •  encourage negotiation of alternative futures
  • challenge unsustainable practices across educational systems, including at the institutional level
  • help learners clarify their own and others worldviews through dialogue, and recognize that alternative frameworks exist

Learning to be


The educator is someone who….


  • is inclusive of different disciplines, cultures and perspectives, including indigenous knowledge and worldviews
  • is motivated to make a positive contribution to other people and their social and natural environment, locally and globally
  •  is willing to take considered action even in situations of uncertainty
  • is willing to challenge assumptions underlying unsustainable practice
  • is a facilitator and participant in the learning process
  • is a critically reflective practitioner
  • inspires creativity and innovation
  •  engages with learners in ways that build positive relationships