ESD Expert Network 

The ESD ExpertNet is a trans-national network of experts and leaders from state and non-state institutions that is developing strategies to help enhance the implementation of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in the participating countries. Currently, experts from four countries are members of the network: Germany, India, Mexico and South Africa. The Network is supported by the GIZ, a federal enterprise in Germany that supports the German Govt in achieving its objectives in the field of international cooperation for sustainable development and education. The main elements of the ExpertNet and its work are:
  1. The ExpertNet itself, which through its periodic meetings and conferences, facilitates exchange of ideas and functions as a think tank
  2. Course for capacity building of multipliers or teacher educators, which focuses on ESD at school level with a whole school approach for school management.
  3. International ESD Leadership Training for young professionals.
Courtesy: TERI, Delhi
From India, the organizations represented in the Network are the NCERT, Bharati Vidyapeeth Institute of Environment Education and Research (BVIEER), The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), and CEE. The Network works together in developing and testing new concepts and instruments for ESD. These aspects of the continued collaboration in the international and inter-institutional setting make the Network unique.

International Conferences
ESD ExpertNet runs a series of conferences on ESD to share the Network’s experience with other experts and practitioners. The conferences bring together a mix of practical and theoretical experience, research insights and new approaches. The Network encourages participants to enter into discussions and help draw conclusions on how to fuse ESD into educational work. Six international conferences have been held so far that have helped showcase the efforts of the ESD Network, including in Pretoria (South Africa, 2010), Mexico (2011), Pune (2011), Delhi (2011), Berlin (2012), and Ahmedabad (2013).

The latest International Conference was organized in March 2013 at Ahmedabad to have a “Dialogue on School Education for Sustainable Development.” The event was inaugurated by Mr Shigeru Aoyagi, Director and UNESCO Representative to India, Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka and Dr. Kabir Shaikh from Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education and Peace, New Delhi. The conference included sessions on:
  •  ESD for Biodiversity Conservation
  •  Gandhian Way and ESD
  •  Beyond the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development
One of the outcomes of the conference was a submission to UN Secretary General’s Education First Initiative. The submission was prepared jointly by the ESD ExpertNet, the Ahmedabad conference participants and CEE. The submission commends the initiative for recognising education as a major driver of change and drawing attention to the lessons from the Decade of ESD which could support the Education First Initiative. In particular, the submission points to
  • the role of action-based, experiential learning in nature
  • recognizing the role of both modern science and indigenous knowledge the need for schools to reflect the ethics and values appropriate to sustainable development
  • encouraging students to participate in ‘handprint’ activities which are positive actions towards sustainability
  • support to students to develop competencies for sustainable living and of teachers for ESD.
International ESD Leadership Training
The ESD Leadership Training (ESD LT) programme offers young professionals from the participating countries a platform to investigate ESD concepts, learn from other institutions and implement innovation projects in their home organizations. The training, which is about 6 months long, consists of several modules in Germany combining ESD as well as management/ leadership skills, an internship phase in one of the participating countries (other than the home country) and the innovation project that is implemented in the home country when participants return. Two iterations of the ESD LT have been offered already. Four interns from TERI, and two each from BVIEER and CEE have participated in the ESD LT.

The participants and alumni of the ESD LT are in the process of forming an intra-country network and also to popularize the ESD LT among other organizations involved in ESD in India. The Network members have also hosted Leadership Training interns from the other partner countries, providing a valuable opportunity to young professionals to learn about ESD in India and hence to change perspective. 

“The benefit of the program is to create a global common understanding of an educational policy for Education for Sustainable Development and have a look at strategies for implementing ESD in our respective countries. The program give the participants a chance to be in a third country and have an insight of what is done similarly and differently as far as ESD is concerned. Finally, the program strives at establishing a great network between the four countries (Germany, South Africa, Mexico and India).” Nomvula Thabethe, South Africa

 “This training is an opportunity to rediscover the scope of sustainable development. Academically and practice in multicultural relations as well as informal experiences. Discuss the concept of Gestalt in the morning, singing Shosholoza in the Berlin underground cooking Indian food in the afternoon, taking a 3 wheeler to work in Delhi and work in the Innovation Project. This program has great potential to change people; my understanding of sustainable development will always be based on this experience.” Manuel Arredondo, Mexico

“The ESD leadership training program has been an incredible journey for me as it helped me realize my potential both professionally and personally. The intercultural learning at the training helped understand that the concept of sustainability is local specific and you need to adapt it to your own situations. My personal experiences at the TOTs helped me understand that communities play a major in triggering and driving a variety of initiatives for action at the local level that lead to sustainability. I hope to be able to contribute to this journey of learning by introducing a credit course on Sustainable Development with one credit on ESD for the Masters Course in Environmental Science at the Department (BVIEER) in the coming year.” Shalini Nair, India

Conduct and Adaptation of Course for ESD Multipliers
The Course for Capacity Building of Multipliers or Teacher Educators,
developed by the ESD ExpertNet has a core curriculum and a compilation
of methods and materials for some of the sessions. The course focuses on ESD at school level with a whole school approach for school management.

This approach takes into account that the important factors for success of ESD within the school context are not only curriculum, teaching staff and their lessons, but also the parents and local surroundings, education policies, teaching materials and many other aspects that all play a major role in the success of ESD.

The course has been pilot tested in each country. In India, the course is now offered through its members, with adaptations for particular types of multipliers. BVIEER along with NCERT has adapted the course for working with textbook writers and also for addressing biodiversity conservation concerns (See box on page 8). CEE is offering it as a 5-day ‘Module for Multipliers: Whole School – Whole System Approach to Education for Sustainable Development’. TERI has offered the course for teachers, non-formal educators and youth groups and is currently further developing the course to specific regions in India Apart from participation in these main elements of the Network’s activities, the experts from India are also contributing to the on-going development of papers on different aspects of ESD. These include ESD and the whole school approach, dimensions of sustainable development, competences for sustainable development and gender and ESD. Once these materials are finalized, they would be available on the website of the ESD ExpertNet.

For more information visit:

ESD workshops by BVIEER
Dr Shamita Kumar, Professor, BVIEER

Workshop for Textbook Writers:
In the year 2013 the BVIEER conducted two workshops for textbooks writers from across India to discuss approaches to infusion of concepts related to sustainable development into textbooks of various subjects. The workshops were conducted in January (Pune) and February 2013 (at the CPR Environment Education Centre in Chennai) in collaboration with the NCERT, TERI and CEE. Fifty three textbooks writers from 23 states of India participated in these workshops. Ten states in India follow the NCERT curriculum in full. These workshops in effect have thus covered all the states of the country. The content included:
  • Sustainable development, global issues and local connections
  • Need for bringing these concepts into textbook
  • The role of education for sustainable development especially revolving around textbooks
  • Competencies for ESD/Getting nature into the textbooks
The workshop methods included group work, field visits, curriculum analysis and expert talks. Participants were taken into the field where BVIEER faculty interpreted several concepts in textbooks through a very different perspective. A comparison of German and Indian textbooks to analyze textbook and lesson structure as well as evaluation was presented by two German teacher educators Stephanie Leder and Matthias Stahele.

The methods and results of a study of infusion of environment concept in school textbooks done by BVIEER was shared. Methodologies for infusion of SD as well as activities for developing critical thinking and problem solving skills were discussed. Using a list of guidelines developed by BVIEER, participants evaluated Indian textbooks for their potential to infuse ESD thus thoroughly grasping the intricacies of infusing concepts and building skills for sustainability. On the last day each group presented the structure of a model lesson they developed infusing sustainability concepts as well as competencies for ESD.

Workshop on Biodiversity Conservation
Maharashtra has five major landscape types which include the deciduous forests of Deccan Plateau, the evergreen forests of the Western Ghats, the semi-arid grasslands of the Deccan, the coastal belt and the several freshwater ecosystems across the state. BVIEER organized two-day workshops in each of these five ecologically distinctive regions. The workshops had a total of 181 participants including school teachers, community members and village leaders, forest department personnel and local experts. The workshops focused on
  • Complementarity of traditional knowledge and scientific understanding
  • Values of wilderness ecosystems, floral and faunal values
  • Endangered habitats and species
  • Locale specific management
  • Wildlife conflicts and possible short term and long term solutions including income generation from varied ecotourism initiatives, setting up of Biodiversity Management Committees, etc.
A key component of the workshops was discussion on implementation aspects of projects that could be taken up by schools and communities along with the Forest Department and the Maharashtra State Biodiversity Board for conserving biodiversity. These include
  • Setting up Biodiversity Management Committees at the local level
  • Initiating organic farming
  • Local ecotourism initiatives
  • Developing field interpretation skills among local youth to act as ecotourism guides
  • Setting up indigenous plant nurseries
  • Initiating locale specific plantation and public awareness campaigns.
Each village/school has taken on a set of activities to be implemented over the next six months with the help of BVIEER, the Maharashtra State Biodiversity Board and the Forest Department.

I have been writing textbooks for so many years.. but now I really understand how to do it” - Shri Prasanna Sahoo, SCERT Orissa

I always thought that the grasslands are for the Great Indian Bustard only. I never knew the grassland is so beautiful and so full of life” - Jaywant Sathe, Teacher, Madhyamik Prashala, Wadala, Solapur

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