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Education for Sustainable Development: A Systemic Framework for Connecting the SDGs to Educational Outcomes


  • Vasiliki Kioupi

    (Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College London, London SW7 1NE, UK)

  • Nikolaos Voulvoulis

    (Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College London, London SW7 1NE, UK)


The UN 2030 agenda of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) envisions a future of inclusive equity, justice and prosperity within environmental limits, and places an important emphasis on education as stated in Goal 4. Education is acknowledged as a means for achieving the remaining Goals, with sustainability as a goal for education in target 4.7. However, the interconnectedness of the SDGs and the complexity of sustainability as a concept make it difficult to relate the SDGs to educational learning outcomes, with what Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) aims to achieve, left in ambiguity. Using systems thinking, we developed a framework that redefines ESD as a tool that can deliver the transformation required for society to reach a sustainable state. Using the SDGs as end points for this state, and through a participatory approach, education stakeholders and learners work together to construct a common vision of sustainability, identify the competences needed, and develop appropriate pedagogies and learning strategies. The framework allows for the development of evaluation tools that can support educational institutions to monitor and manage their progress in transforming societies towards sustainability.

Suggested Citation

  • Vasiliki Kioupi & Nikolaos Voulvoulis, 2019. "Education for Sustainable Development: A Systemic Framework for Connecting the SDGs to Educational Outcomes," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 11(21), pages 1-18, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:11:y:2019:i:21:p:6104-:d:282886

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    References listed on IDEAS

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