Education for Sustainable Development

The Department of Education is currently creating a National Strategy on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), in keeping with the publication by the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government of Our Sustainable Future- A Framework for Sustainable Development in Ireland which was published in 2012, and is currently requesting submissions to help with its development.

This government publication describes sustainable development as a continuous process of economic, social and environmental change focused on promoting the wellbeing of citizens now and as well as in the future. The objectives for the National Strategy on ESD are:

  • including education for sustainable development at every level of the education system
  • Encouraging public awareness of education for sustainable development
  • Promoting capacity building to support education for sustainable development
  • Encouraging high standards of environmental management in educational settings

Specific actions in the Strategy on ESD will include:

  • Integration of ESD into all areas of the curriculum
  • Supporting media and awareness campaigns on sustainable development
  • Promoting research in universities and colleges as well as encouraging collaborative working and industry links
  •  Improving the work of the Department of Education in building low energy sustainable buildings

Plans had begun on a National Strategy on ESD in 2007 that included a public consultation process, however, since there have been many changes in the field of sustainable development a new public consultation process is needed before the final stages of the plan are complete. Submissions are now open to anyone interested from a variety of fields such as formal and non formal education, business and professional organisations and the media. Submissions can be done online and a template is available on the Department of Education’s website. A list of all the submissions received will be published as an appendix to the National Strategy on ESD.


Minister for Education, Ruairí Quinn, recently spoke about the Irish education system, saying that Ireland still has a long way to go for it to have the kind of “world class” education system that is needed and added that acknowledging this was the starting point of the change. The Minister was speaking before a conference in St. Patrick’s College in Drumcondra, Dublin and also referred to the pupil to teacher ratio currently in schools and the plan to get rid of prefabs in schools, but mentioned that the forthcoming budget would be the hardest of the three budgets under the Troika regime.

The closing date for submissions is Friday September 27th 2013 and more information on the consultation process, as well as the template for submissions and a background information paper can be found at:

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