Last updated: 20Jun2018


In November 2014, the Global Action Programme (GAP) on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) was launched at the “United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Conference on ESD” in Aichi-Nagoya, Japan, to build on the achievements of the United Nations (UN) Decade of ESD and create new momentum for action. GAP’s goal is to generate and scale up action in all levels and areas of education and learning to accelerate the progress towards sustainable development. GAP has five priority action areas to allow for strategic focus and partnerships, namely:

  • Advance policies
  • Enhance learning and training environments
  • Build the capacities of educators and trainers
  • Empower and mobilise the youth
  • Accelerate the implementation of sustainable solutions at the local level

As the leading agency for ESD, UNESCO coordinates the global implementation of GAP. In this context, UNESCO designed the new initiative, “Today for Tomorrow: Coordinating and Implementing GAP on ESD.” Funded by the Japan government and in cooperation with the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organisation (SEAMEO), the project will focus on implementing the five GAP priority action areas aided by effective global coordination.


Educators and trainers are powerful agents of change who can deliver the educational response to advance sustainable development. But they must first acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values to support the transition to a sustainable society.

Teacher education institutions (TEIs), teacher educators, and teachers have a wide-ranging influence on policies and practices in education and development and hold key responsibilities for delivering quality education in all levels. ESD in teacher education should help reorient the community, revisit the priorities of programmers, and rethink methods to make education relevant and responsive to today’s global challenges.


The project Sustainability Begins with Teachers in Southeast Asiaaims to:

  1. Support teacher education institutions (TEIs) to mainstream ESD in their programmes and institutions with a view to increasing the number of teachers appropriately qualified to deliver ESD;
  2. Provide capacity building through a set of training workshops for deans and educators of selected teacher education institutions to integrate ESD concepts and principles in their institution’s curriculum and teaching and learning practices;
  3. Develop and utilize Southeast Asia ESD (SEA-ESD) modules that are adapted to the contexts of the sub-region and the respective countries;
  4. Conduct a review and analysis of ESD materials a regional survey and meta-analysis as inputs to the SEA ESD modules.


  • Report on ESD in Asia and the Pacific (Phase 1) from surveys and document analysis;
  • 25 TEIs in 5 countries in South East Asia empowered to mainstream ESD content, methods and principles into their programmes and institutions; (Phase 2)
  • 25 TEIs supported in becoming centres that develop the relevant knowledge, skills and values to enable learners to contribute to sustainable societies; and (Phase 3)
  • Documentation of Good practices on ESD Implementation utilized by TEIs in Southeast Asia (Phase 4)


The project methodology has five main components, namely:

Relevant content:
Lead trainers learned to integrate critical issues such as climate change, biodiversity, disaster risk reduction (DRR), and sustainable consumption and production (SCP) into teacher education programmes.

Effective methods:
Lead trainers learned to design teaching resources that are interactive and learner centered; enable exploratory, action-oriented learning; and steer teaching from being transmissive and authoritarian to becoming transformative and participatory.

Learning environments:
Trainees encouraged to rethink learning environments—physical, virtual, and online—to include sustainability principles in their management and inspire learners to act towards attaining sustainability.

Essential competencies:
Lead trainers received support in defining learning outcomes and promoting the learning of core competencies that contribute to the development of sustainable societies such as critical and systemic thinking, collaborative decision making, and taking responsibility for present and future generations.

Specifically, the project implemented using the following phases:

Phase 1. Preparatory Stage -Identification of leading TEIs and curating ESD materials via survey and meta-analysis - (January 2017- May 2017)

  1. The first stage identified leading TEIs from five countries (one from each country), which will be selected from the past UNESCO/SEAMEO ESD networks and those to be identified/nominated by the Ministries of Education and/or Ministries of Higher Education. Tentatively from the following countries: Cambodia, Lao PDR, Indonesia, Philippines, and Thailand. The lead institutions will be trained to lead capacity building of 5 other TEIs on ESD.
  2. This stage also undertook a regional survey on ESD in Teacher Education, and will be part of curation and review of existing ESD resources to identify those that can be used for the training in Phase 2.
  3. An external consultant hired to conduct the review of literature and data curation and management.

Phase 2. TOT Training Stage- Organized a regional Train-the Trainers and capacity building (June 2017)

  1. The leading Teacher Education Institutions convened for a one-week capacity building workshop in Chiang Rai, Thailand.
  2. Through the workshop, SEA-ESD modules developed by adapting and contextualizing the prototype modules prepared by UNESCO HQ and using the resources curated in Phase.
  3. The workshop prepared the three TEIs to deliver training for other TEIs in their countries.

Phase 3. National Training and monitoring – Lead TEIs conducted training for other TEIs in the respective countries and monitor the process (June/July 2017 – March 2018)

  1. Each TEI trained in Phase 2 conducted training workshops for at least four other TEIs in the respective country, using the SEA-ESD modules, adapted and contextualized to the country. One dean, one department chair with ESD background and a teacher educator will participate from each TEI.
  2. The training was meant to strengthen the capacity of the participating TEIs to integrate ESD concepts and principles in the teacher education institution’s curriculum and teaching and learning practices.
  3. Some language experts hired to translate the ESD modules for the country.
  4. Following the workshops, lead TEIs would work with the deans of the participating TEIs to support and monitor the implementation of the ‘Change Projects’ in the respective institutions. SEAMEO and UNESCO will supervise the lead TEIs.
  5. An evaluation workshop organized before April 2018 in each country for the participating TEIs to review the experiences and assess the outcomes by UNESCO Bangkok and SEAMEO with the Assessment Centre from reputable university.

Phase 4. Documentation and Dissemination of Project Experiences (August - April 2018)

  1. The project experiences documented as case studies.
  2. The project outcomes consolidated and published as a report, and disseminated through SEAMEO and UNESCO platforms.

ESD Project Timelines and Deliverables