Education for Sustainability National Strategy – Global Best Practice Examples

The ESDF Strategy and Action Plan for Education for Sustainability (EfS) states that EfS needs to occur and be embedded across all curricular subjects and topics in Northern Ireland. It also advises that EfS would benefit from existing as a standalone subject, in conjunction with a cross-curricular presence, not as an alternative.

Here we put forward three National Education Strategy examples that demonstrate global best practice and provide examples Northern Ireland could learn from to ensure EfS is embedded and delivered across the curriculum with confidence and commitment by educators at all levels.

The global best practice exemplars chosen for brief review are:

  • Canada (focused on Ontario specifically)
  • New Zealand
  • Italy

In Canada, we see how the Ontario Ministry for Education responded to the need for guidance on embedding environmental education by producing grade specific resource guides, to provide scope and sequence in the learning expectations in the curriculum that relate to, or provide opportunities, for environmental education, with clear recognition of the opportunities this would provide to support students’ development of related skills and knowledge.

The admirably ambitious overarching intention of the New Zealand curriculum is to lead to ‘a nation of innovative and motivated people who think and act sustainably’.  The New Zealand curriculum stands out as an excellent model of embedding sustainable development concepts throughout, focusing on meeting environmental challenges and seeking to recognise and grow the Māori perspectives in environmental protection.  Crucially, environmental education is recognised as key to assisting government in achieving New Zealand’s environmental goals.

Italy’s Education Minster’s decision that 6–19-year-olds dedicate a minimum of 1 hour per week to sustainability issues, such as climate change and ocean pollution, makes Italy the first country in the world to designate these specific subjects as compulsory.

A brief summary of the strategy and action plan for each national strategy best practice example is provided below.

National Strategy Best Practice – 1. Ontario, Canada.pdf

National Strategy Best Practice – 2. New Zealand.pdf

National Strategy Best Practice – 3. Italy.pdf

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