Education for Sustainable Development

September 2020

Education for sustainable development (ESD) enables the complexity of the world to be understood in its scientific, ethical and civic dimensions. It is cross-cutting and is included in the teaching programmes. Teachers and supervisory staff are trained in it and integrate it into the operation of schools.

To download : strategie_pour_l_edd_23270.pdf (380 KiB)

Sustainable development has been adopted by the Ministry of Education in its classic sense as an approach to restoring dynamic balances between the environment, the social world, the economy and culture. Based on this definition, which is founded on the interaction between these different areas, education for sustainable development (ESD) is a cross-curricular education, which integrates the challenges of sustainable development into the new primary school curricula and into the subject curricula of secondary schools and general, technological and vocational secondary schools.

ESD explicitly intersects with other cross-curricular education, including education for development and international solidarity, health education, and artistic and cultural education.

Finally, the citizen’s path and the health path are particularly favourable to taking into account the challenges of sustainable development.

The eco-delegates are essential actors of ESD within the school

Understanding the challenges of sustainable development to act as a responsible citizen

Understanding the relationships between environmental, economic, social and cultural issues should help students to better perceive :

The School is committed to the dynamics of the Sustainable Development Goals - Agenda 2030

Since the publication of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including « Quality Education for All », by the United Nations in 2015, they have been the subject of national appropriations in the form of « 2030 Agendas ». The SDGs are the subject of a strong and rapid appropriation dynamic by local authorities, the business world and associations. The SDGs give a new dimension to education for sustainable development, and a global meaning to the mission of national education.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals :

Structuring Education for Sustainable Development

ESD must be structured around new axes, the horizon of which is constituted by the UN’s sustainable development objectives within the framework of the 2030 Agenda. In this perspective, it is necessary to

1 - consolidate ESD around seven pillars:

2 - to broaden and accelerate the deployment of the E3D reference system, in particular to give it a territorial dimension. It also gives a special role and responsibility to eco-delegates.

A progressive implementation

Education is an essential part of the national strategy of ecological transition for sustainable development. ESD is an integral part of the initial training of pupils in all schools and educational establishments.

Education embedded in all subjects, throughout the schooling process

ESD is integrated :

Education for sustainable development in the programmes

In the guidance note and proposals it published in December 2019, the Conseil supérieur des programmes insisted on various aspects:

The Council also proposed five green threads - air, water, fire, earth and life - « which lend themselves to a structured construction around thematic poles at the crossroads of scientific, artistic and literary discourse, etc.". They offer various possibilities for developing explicit and progressive teaching, and for highlighting complex interactions ».

These various proposals were taken into account and integrated into the programmes published in July 2020.

A necessary and progressive understanding of the environment and living beings

The aim is to highlight the phenomena that underpin reflection and action on sustainable development.

From cycles 1 and 2, the programmes invite an initial awareness through activities on the different forms of matter and life, and their evolution. This learning is deepened and enriched in cycles 3 and 4, particularly in science, by contextualising mathematical and physical-chemistry concepts. In life and earth sciences, the subject is worked on in a progressive manner to show the need for systemic approaches.

A reflection on the relationship between humans and the environment

This is carried out :

The consequences of sustainable development issues on life in society

Several disciplines refer to this:


This cross-curricular education involves numerous partnerships with other State services, local authorities, associations, public establishments, research centres and economic players. Several hundred awareness-raising actions exist in different fields:


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