Transforming Learning and Training Environments in Germany

Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is about much more than preaching and teaching on sustainable development. It is about practicing it. This is why UNESCO’s Global Action Programme (GAP ESD) has identified the transformation of learning and training environments as a priority action area: Schools, day care centres, universities, or colleges can empower learners to contribute to a more sustainable future – by integrating sustainability principles into their everyday lives.

Transforming learning and training environments concerns not only managing physical facilities more sustainably, but also changing the ethos and governance structure of the organisation. It means including sustainability principles into all aspects of school life: from teaching content and methodology, campus and facility management to external relations with families and community members – a whole-institution approach.

To promote this transformation in Germany, the German Commission for UNESCO – in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and other partners – has recently published five recommendations containing tips and best-practice advice for implementing whole-institution approaches in different educational areas (in German):

The publications have been arranged based on the experiences of several distinguished German ESD stakeholders and are supposed to support educational institutions in implementing a whole-institution approach.


In Germany, the whole-institution approach constitutes an important cross-cutting theme which plays a central role in the German National Action Plan for GAP implementation. The plan was adopted on June 20th, 2017 and defines 130 objectives and 349 measures to scale up ESD in all areas and at all levels of the German education system.