Climate change has become one of the most urgent challenges of sustainable development and is one of the key action themes of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD, 2005-2014). Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) seeks to enable individuals to make informed and responsible decisions and actions, now and in the future. Educating about climate change builds the skills and attitudes needed to question the way we think, the values we hold and the decisions we make in the context of sustainable development. The integrated, multifaceted vision provided by ESD is particularly well-suited to addressing climate change in terms of understanding its causes, recognising its impact and effects, and preparing and implementing appropriate responses.
A seminar on Climate change through the EDS lens: Policy, pedagogical and ethical perspectives on global warming was organized as part of the Education for Sustainable Development Day (14 October 2009) that the Education Sector held during the 35th UNESCO General Conference. This seminar explored the role of ESD in providing an effective framework for addressing climate change issues through education. This subject is both timely and topical given the outcomes of the UNESCO World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development (Bonn, Germany, 31 March-2 April 2009) and in light of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (7-18 December 2009, Copenhagen), which is bringing heightened salience to issues of global warming.
Through presentations and discussion, the seminar illustrated how education should change and respond if we are to tackle global challenges like climate change effectively, and how ESD is particularly useful for guiding and assisting this process. Too often, sustainable development is reduced to its ecological dimension while the economic, social, cultural and ethical aspects are left aside. It is therefore incumbent on ESD to address not only the ecological but also the non-ecological causes, implications and consequences of climate change.