Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)

Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for 2015-2030 (SDG) include two extremely important statements relevant to the field of early childhood development, education, and care:Goal 4 states that by 2030 all Member States must:

*ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education, and

*ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sus-tainable development

With these critical outcomes in mind, it is imperative for everyone in the field of early childhood development, education and care to become as knowledgeable and skilful as possible about high quality pedagogies and curricula for Education for Sustain-able Development during the early years.

Toward this goal, OMEP, the World Organization for Early Childhood Education, gladly shares this Resource Bank on Early Child-hood Education and Care for Sustainability. The Resource Bank is a “work in progress,” which we hope will be useful to early childhood teachers, teacher educators, parents, and others who share our desire to teach young children about sustainability and to capitalize on young children’s capacities to contribute to healthy environments, viable economies, and equitable and just societies.

Over the past decade, World OMEP has made education for sustainability a key focus for World and Regional conferences, research projects, practitioners and as key content for a yearly OMEP ESD travel award. The work has progressed quickly with the support of UNESCO initiatives and international funding, with Sweden being a significant contributor.


OMEP became aware of the demand from practitioners on how to make improvements in their early childhood practices. 


Early childhood pedagogy has since embraced sustainability, as it is compatible with our early childhood history, such as the teachings of Froebel, Montessori, Steiner, Freire and Malaguzzi: all encouraging children to be exploring nature and caring for the natural world.


New ideas and approaches have emerged along with early childhood pedagogies, mainly evolved due to a deeper understanding of socio-cultural approaches to early childhood education. 


Since 2009, OMEP has run a world project on education for sustainable development – ESD. It includes multiple parts, such as informal child interviews, ESD-projects with children in their preschools and settings, intergenerational dialogues, in-service and pre-service training, a resource bank, a yearly ESD-award and the OMEP ESD rating scale. These projects are still active, and all information is available…

ESD Rating Scale

The original OMEP ESD rating scale was developed in line with principles of best practices in early childhood. It was developed in 2011-2014 within a research project covering seven countries; Chile, China, England, Kenya, Korea, Sweden and USA (see further information about the project in Sira Blatchford, Mogharreban & Park, 2016). The scale exists in many languages.

Today, it is most often used as a ‘beginning tool’ to support teachers in identifying successes and concerns in early education and care, also giving guidance for internal evaluation. The rating scale additionally serves as a common point of origin for research projects. The primary purpose is not to use the scale for comparisons between preschools or as a measure of quality. Rather, we consider the scale a help in building a common culture of sustainability for children and adults, as the scale enables educators and management to identify areas in need action towards sustainability. It may also serve as a record of development and progress.

2019 ESD Rating Scale (2ed)

Rubric Self and team assessment and development OMEP ESD Rating Scale

Rubric Self and team assessment and development OMEP ESD Rating Scale

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