Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is recognized as a key element of quality education and a crucial enabler for sustainable development. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the global community recognize the importance of education in achieving their targets by 2030. Target 4.7 of SDG 4 on education specifically addresses ESD and related approaches.
Awarded for the first time by the Director-General of UNESCO in November 2015, the UNESCO-Japan Prize on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is granted to individuals or organisations who are leading projects which recognize the role of education in connecting the social, economic, cultural and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.
The Prize was officially launched at the UNESCO World Conference on ESD in Japan at the end of 2014. It sits within the framework of the Global Action Programme on ESD which seeks to scale up ESD as an essential driver for the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
To be eligible for the Prize, applicants must be engaged in an ongoing project, which has been established for at least 4 years, demonstrate an innovative, transformative and integrated approach to ESD, have proof of impact and show how their project could be replicated.
Past UK winners are the National Union of Students UK for the Green Impact Programme in 2016, and Hard Rain & Whole Earth? Project, by Mark Edwards in 2017. In 2019 the three winners were The Camphill Community Trust, Botswana, for its school and community-based integrated Learning for Living and Work Programme, The Sustainable Amazon Foundation, Brazil, for its Relevant Programme, education for sustainable development Relevant programme in remote Amazon communities, and the City of Hamburg, Germany, for its large-scale programme, Hamburg is learning sustainability, which fights climate change through an extensive set of projects, materials and green events.