ESD Timeline

What are the origins of ESD and the Global Action Programme? What are key dates and milestones of ESD implementation?

1987: Publication of the Brundlandt Report

The World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), lead by the former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, released a report on long-term global sustainable development. The text became known as the Brundtland Report and had a significant influence on the international debate about development and environmental policy.

1992: United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro (UNCED) and Agenda 21

At UNCED, also known as the Earth Summit, more than 170 governments agreed on a development and environmental policy action programme for global sustainable development: The goal of Agenda 21 was to implement the Brundtland Report internationally. Chapter 36 describes education as a key strategy.

2002: Rio+10 World summit, proclamation of the UN Decade

Ten years after Rio, the international community met in Johannesburg for the World Summit on Sustainable Development. Acting on the recommendation, the United Nations General Assembly decided to dedicate a UN Decade to Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014). UNESCO was designated lead-agency for coordinating the implementation of the UN Decade.

Implementing the UN Decade in Germany

2003: German Commission for UNESCO: Hamburg Declaration

At the 63rd General Assembly, the German Commission for UNESCO decided on the Hamburg Declaration. The Declaration called on all stakeholders at Federal, State and local level and economic, research and educational and civil society institutions to join together in an "alliance for learning sustainability". The intention was to develop a plan of action for the UN Decade, as well as programmes and coordination mechanisms to implement it.

2005: First National Plan of Action

The National Plan of Action defined the central aim of the UN Decade: to anchor the idea of sustainable development in all areas of education. The plan was supplemented by over 60 specific education policy measures and inspection criteria for implementation. The Plan of Action and catalogue of measures were regularly evaluated and updated.

2007: International Conference

Over 200 European and international representatives attended the conference "UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development – the Contribution from Europe". The meeting took place from May 24th to 25th in Berlin during the German Presidency of the EU Council. The primary objective of the conference was to identify the European contribution to the UN Decade.

2008: Revised National Plan of Action

In September 2008, the 2005 National Plan of Action was updated.

2009: World Conference

The half-time "World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development" was held in Bonn, Germany. 700 participants from over 150 countries adopted the Bonn Declaration on April 2nd, 2009. UNESCO and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research organised the conference in cooperation with the German Commission for UNESCO.

2011: Revised National Plan of Action

The Third Edition of the National Plan of Action (September 2011) updated the subgoals and the strategy for the second half of the decade.

2012: International Workshop, follow-up actions and Rio+20

February 2012: Fifty international ESD experts discussed the future of the UN Decade during the International Workshop "Horizon 2015". The two-day workshop took place in Bonn, Germany. The participants adopted a set of Bonn Recommendations on ESD beyond 2014, in which the experts ask the UN to adopt a resolution at its 69th Session in 2014 to maintain ESD's momentum provided by the Decade and ensure a smooth transition to follow-up activities in 2015.

April 2012: The German Bundestag requested the German government to commit itself to follow-up activities to the UN Decade.

June 2012: The final report of the Rio+20 summit emphasized the importance of ESD. The document asks member states of the United Nations to increase their efforts in bringing ESD into people's minds – also outside the educational sector. UNESCO's role as driving force is especially mentioned.

2013: Position Paper "Strategy for ESD 2015+"

One year before the end of the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, the German National Committee for the Decade published a position paper on the time after 2014. The Strategy for ESD 2015+ proposes follow-up activities and endorses their public discussion.

2014: National Conference and World Conference

September 2014: The National Conference on Education for Sustainable Development took place in Bonn, Germany, from September 29 to 30, 2014. It was organised jointly by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research in cooperation with the German Commission for UNESCO. Almost 500 participants from all Federal Länder – the German states – as well as experts from other countries discussed the results of the German implementation of the UN Decade, honoured the achieved outcomes and explored future possibilities for Education for Sustainable Development. The participants also adopted the Bonn Declaration 2014.

November 2014: The World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development "Learning Today for a Sustainable Future" took place from November 10 to 12, 2014 in Aichi-Nagoya, Japan. The Conference marked the end of the UN Decade, celebrated its achievements and launched the Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2019).

Overview of German activities during the UN Decade of ESD