22 April,2021 – Ministers Foley and Harris announce Joint Public Consultation on a National Strategy on Education for Sustainable Development to 2030

Minister for Education Norma Foley TD and Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD have today (22 April 2021) on World Earth Day launched a joint public consultation on the development of the Second National Strategy on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) to 2030, by the two Departments.

Earth Day is an international event celebrated around the world to pledge support for environmental protection. This year's theme for Earth Day is 'climate action'.

Minister Foley said: “Achieving the 2030 targets set out by the United Nations in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is a key aim in the Programme for Government.

“Our second Education for Sustainable Development Strategy will build on what we have achieved to date. It is vital that our students at all levels have the relevant knowledge and skills to enable them to act for a sustainable future and that they understand their role as global citizens.

“This is an area that many of our students and educators are passionate about, and I envisage that this consultation will benefit greatly from engagement from students of all ages, educators and all those with an interest in this area, to help shape the new strategy”.

Minister Harris said: “The past number of months have really highlighted how inter-connected we are as a global community and the need for us all to work together to tackle some of the greatest challenges of our time, from climate change to poverty and inequality. I believe that education and research are essential elements in this and we need to consider how and what we should learn and do to create a sustainable future for all.

“My Department has a key role in tackling climate change, from making sure that we train and support a workforce skilled in sustainable techniques and technologies to funding and overseeing a higher education system that includes universities ranked among the best in the world for sustainability.  We will harness these successes as we move forward, but to do that, we need to hear from you.”

ESD to 2030 will be aligned to UNESCO’s Framework for ESD for 2030 and will support the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4.7, as well as recognising education as a key enabler for all 17 SDGs.

The strategy will build on the achievements of the first National Strategy on ESD 2014-2020, by continuing to strengthen the integration of ESD at all levels of formal education through a whole of institution approach, while further extending opportunities for learners to engage in ESD, as a lifelong learning process, in the non-formal and in-formal education sectors, increasing the engagement of young people and local communities. 

  • In Phase 1 of the public consultation, the general public and other key stakeholders are invited to participate in an online survey and/or to make a more detailed written submission, to inform the development of the strategy.
  • Phase 2 will consist of targeted consultation with key stakeholders and will proceed into early autumn.
  • A consultation paper, to further inform and guide participants in making their responses to the public consultation, is available on the websites of both the Department of Education and Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science.

Both Ministers encouraged the general public to participate in this process, to provide ideas on what more can and should be done to ensure Ireland meets SDG target 4.7 on Education for Sustainable Development.

The closing date for receipt of completed surveys and/or written submissions from the general public and other key stakeholders is Wednesday 30 June, 2021.

Notes for Editor:

Detailed information on how the general public can participate in the public consultation is available at:


Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) empowers people to change the way they think and work towards a sustainable future, to transform society by reorienting education and helping people to develop knowledge, skills, values and behaviours needed for sustainable development. (UNESCO: https://en.unesco.org/themes/education-sustainable-development).

UNESCO’s Framework for ESD for 2030 will be officially launched at the UNESCO World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development in Berlin on 17-19 May 2021. ESD for 2030 builds on the Global Action Programme (the GAP, 2015-2019) that aimed to reorient and strengthen education and learning to contribute to all activities that promote sustainable development. It places a stronger focus on education’s central contribution to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). ESD for 2030 directly contributes to SDG 4 on quality and inclusive education, in particular Target 4.7, as well as all other SDGs, to provide relevant education that puts responsibility for the future at the centre. Further details can be found at: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000374802

National Strategy on ESD 2014-2020

An interim review of the National Strategy in 2018 set out the significant progress achieved in integrating ESD and the principles of sustainable development into the education system at all levels. This has included: the integration of ESD across the curriculum from early childhood to post-primary levels and within new and existing courses in further and higher education and training; within assessment processes, school inspections and teacher training; and as a focus of higher education research.

National Strategy on Education for Sustainable Development in Ireland, 2014-2020