Education for Sustainable Development: Key Challenges

education-for-sustainable-developmentThe basic aim of 'Education for Sustainable Development' is to nurture an individual who is capable to solve environmental challenges facing the world and to promote the formation of a sustainable society. The first challenge is to have an ethos in schools that openly and enthusiastically supports the development of ESD (Education for Sustainable Development). This is partly down to the curriculum the school follows, but is mainly as a result of the interest and effort shown by senior management in promoting integration and whole school engagement; a critical element being teacher training. It is also down to the expectations that are put upon schools by education authorities when it comes to ESD.

With trained and motivated teachers, it is far easier to inspire and motivate students. Teachers can often use the environment as a vehicle for teaching certain concepts in their own specific subject. Once teachers have decided that this is something they feel is worthwhile, they will increasingly find ways to do so.

Using environmental issues in student learning shows students the bigger picture, which can significantly improve motivation. By letting pupils know why the work they are completing is important, and showing them where it fits in on a local and global scale, you’re enabling them to see its value.

Another challenge is being able to bridge the gap between what happens at home and what is taught in schools. For example, if a child is learning about recycling at school, but parents are not open to supporting their learning by adopting recycling practices at home, then the child, especially at a young age, receives very conflicting messages.

Schools are busy places and there are increasing pressures on teachers within the workplace. These can create additional challenges such as gaps between awareness and understanding; motivation to and knowledge of how to become more sustainable; individual to collective empowerment; finding time; budget restraints; linking infrastructure change to mind set change and whole community engagement.

However, with a more directed focus and commitment towards ESD in schools, children generally need very little motivation to care for their environment. You just have to give them a voice and they are away! The problem often comes from adults not understanding the bigger picture about caring for the long term future of the planet.

Strategy for GCC Countries

When it comes to educating locals and expats in the GCC, it can be categorized into three parts:

The physical change: looking at how schools, households and businesses can reduce their waste, water and energy and focus on more sustainable resources in general.

The mind set change: this is all about raising environmental understanding, awareness and action programmes throughout the school and business communities through workshops, cross-curricular activities and presentations, so that everybody is on the 'same page', as well as giving students and employees a voice. This leads to a fundamental change in attitudes and the choices people make.

Learning to respect others and appreciate the environment, as well as giving back to society: this is focused around the opportunities to learn beyond the workplace and home, and connect back to nature, as well as help communities in need. In a nutshell, it about being more caring.

Partnerships and action orientated behaviour within all 3 parts are crucially important to their success. Environmental awareness in itself is not enough, simply because awareness without leading to meaningful action and behaviour change goes nowhere.

Using environmental issues in student learning shows children the bigger picture

Using environmental issues in student learning shows children the bigger picture

This approach can be illustrated in the Beyond COP21 Symposium series that I am currently running globally with the support of Eco-Schools. The event consists of themed high impact presentations from, and discussions with, guest speakers on the SDGs Agenda 2030 and climate negotiations in and beyond Paris; individual & community action; pledge- making and practical activities/workshops.

Local sustainable companies and organisations are invited to showcase their initiatives and engage with students from a variety of schools, both local and expat, in each city or region. Successfully run in Dubai twice and with an upcoming event in Jordan, the Middle East region has certainly embraced the partnership approach when it comes to supporting environmental education initiatives that benefit all those involved.

Role of Technology and Social Media

The greatest role it can play is through the spread of information and ideas, as well as the sharing of good practice within the GCC. Sometimes the hardest thing is to know where to start and how to become motivated, and certainly both can help. Also technology can help to source important resources for teachers. Bee’ah’s School of Environment, which I have been recently developing new online resources for, is a very good example of how well this can work.

Please visit my website for more information about my organization and its activities.

Anthropogenic Climate Change in Jordan

Climate change has become a global concern in recent decades and Jordan is no exception. According to IPPC, scientific evidences show that the earth experienced an average warming of around 0.7°C during the 20th century, and are projected to warm by up to 4°C by the end of the 21st century. Scientific studies reveal an increase in annual minimum air temperatures in Jordan since 1970s. The increase of mean temperature indicates a slight regional climate change, while decreasing temperature range proves that the earth is trapping terrestrial infrared radiation responsible for climate change. Besides, researchers predict further increase in the mean annual temperatures by 3±0.5°C in winter and 4.5±1°C in summer by the end of the 21st century. According to the National Climate Change Policy of Jordan, Jordan’s total GHG emissions are relatively small with less than 20 million tons of COeq p.a. to global emission. The main sources of GHG emissions in Jordan are as follows:

  • Energy sector – 74%
  • Waste sector –  13%
  • Solid waste – 12.5%
  • Industrial processes – 8%
  • Land  use – 4%
  • Wastewater – 1%

Climate Change Perception and Awareness

In Feb 2014, the Jordanian Ministry of Environment collaborating with the Royal Scientific Society and the UNDP published the results of the first public opinion survey about the level of knowledge on climate change and its impact on Jordan.  The survey aims to evaluate the level of perception and understanding of the Jordanians about climate change and to determine the knowledge gaps to prepare an outreach plan for enhancing public awareness.

When the level of climate change awareness and perception among Jordanians was assessed, findings show that the level of climate change awareness among Jordanians is high; survey results specify that 78% of Jordanians recognize the change in climate during the past years, while 73% realize that climate change was due to anthropogenic activities such as energy sector and transportation. Moreover, only 38% of all sample stated that they have a very good knowledge of the climate change issue. In the same survey, 75% stated that the impact of climate change nationally will be mainly manifested in the form of temperature rise, while 65% acknowledged that climate change will negatively affect the precipitation.

In addition, the results show a good knowledge among Jordanians as regards the fact that Jordan has a minor contribution to climate change phenomena. Half of the sample surveyed showed a positive attitude towards being involved in action against climate change, and 53% expressed their willing to pay more for climate-friendly products, while joining an organization that addresses climate change issues had a weak percentage of 16%.

Results further demonstrate that the sample under study gave the top priority to students in the awareness campaigns with a percentage of 72% followed by business sector with 61% and household with 43%. As for communication tools, the sample chose TV and Satellite as the most preferred communication tool, followed by social media networking (e.g Facebook and Twitter) with a percentage of 66%, while the least percentage was for seminars and workshops with a percentage of 26%.

Government has the key responsibilities in dealing with climate change according to 52% of the sample, followed by civil society organizations with 24%. As for adaptation measures, 69% of Jordanians identified saving water as a key issue in adaptation options, whereas planting of drought-tolerant crops ranked the second place with 60%, and the last priority was for biodiversity conservation with 50%. Finally, 61% of the studied sample recommended renewable energy usage and energy efficiency as the first mitigation options, while 46% went to use climatic-friendly products, and decrease the industrial pollution ranked the third place with a percentage of 57%.

Climate Change Policy and Government Decisions

While Jordan`s total GHG emissions are relatively small and despite the current political instability in the region, Jordan did not ignore the emergency of dealing with the climate change problem. This is due to the fact that Jordan realizes that climate change is a threat to both nature and humanity, and it is an obligation to deal with its negative impacts by increasing the Kingdom’s preparedness and resilience.

Jordan should act intelligently to compact the negative impact of climate change vulnerable sectors such as water and food to name two. Correspondingly the Ministry of Environment declared launching a directorate specializes in Climate Change, Jordan has also developed "the Climate Change Policy and Sector Strategic Guidance Framework", according to the policy; the long-term goal is to achieve a proactive, climate risk-resilient Jordan, to remain with a low-carbon but growing economy, with healthy, sustainable, resilient communities, sustainable resources, and thriving and productive ecosystems.

Adaptation and Mitigation Measures

In addition to actions taken at the policy level, various actions have been taken to adapt to climate change and to promote mitigation of GHGs, including strengthening the promotion of renewable energy in the country. An excellent example is the 117MW Tafila Wind Farm, the Middle East’s biggest wind farm.

In addition to local activities on mitigation and adaptation, Jordan also participates in and contributes to various environmental international activities related to climate change. Moreover, a good deal of research projects on climate change have been initiated in Jordan, which will help in identifying the local impacts of climate change and to broaden knowledge on adaptation and mitigation strategies in different sectors. Jordan believes that the potential for mitigation is large; and is still working seriously and comprehensively to deal with its consequences.



Matouq, Mohammed. et al "The Climate Change Implication on Jordan: A Case Study Using GIS and Artificial Neural Networks for Weather Forecasting." Journal of Taibah University for Science, 2013.

Hamdi, Moshrik. et al "Climate Change in Jordan: A Comprehensive Examination Approach." American Journal of Environmental Sciences 5.1 (2009): 58-68. 

Harrison, Sandy. "Future Climate Change in Jordan: An Analysis of State-of-the-Art Climate Model Simulations." (2009): Royal Society for Nature Conservation.

The National Climate Change Policy of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan 2013-2020." The Ministry of Environment. 2013. <available at>.

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