CMEC has included education for sustainable development (ESD) as one of the key activity areas in Learn Canada 2020, its framework to enhance Canada's education systems, learning opportunities, and overall education outcomes at all levels.  The specific goal for ESD is to raise students' awareness and encourage them to become actively engaged in working for a sustainable society.

To achieve this goal, the CMEC Education for Sustainable Development Working Group was created in 2008 to

  • coordinate action to support and strengthen the implementation of ESD in all provinces and territories

  • develop a pan-Canadian ESD Framework for Collaboration and Action that builds on current activities for enhanced collaboration at the jurisdictional level

  • focus on encouraging activity in the elementary and secondary system, with the integration of sustainable development into curricula, development of ESD-related teaching resources and material, and the provision of pre-service and in-service teacher education and support in ESD concepts and practices

  • establish Canada as a leader in ESD, with this leadership demonstrated through reports on progress made towards these goals

International Cooperation

The United Nations has declared 2005-14 as the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, with UNESCO as the lead organization.  As a member state of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), Canada, through CMEC, has committed to incorporating sustainable development themes into formal, non-formal, and informal education and to report on this implementation. 

Canada serves on the UNECE ESD Steering Committee, which has completed the preparation of Education for Sustainable Development Indicators and is now concentrating on the identification of teacher competencies for ESD implementation.

CMEC has been partners with the Canadian Commission for UNESCO and Environment Canada since the adoption of the UNECE Strategy for Education for Sustainable Development.  In 2007, the three organizations collaborated on the preparation of a report on the implementation of this Strategy in Canada for the period of 2005 to 2007.  The document, Report to UNECE and UNESCO on Indicators of Education for Sustainable Development: Report for Canada, outlines the activities of the education and other involved ministries and departments in the provinces and territories, numerous departments of the federal government, and non-governmental and civil society organizations.  The report details

  • policy, regulatory, and operational frameworks
  • ESD implementation in formal, non-formal, and informal learning
  • training and support of educators
  • tools and resources available
  • research and development activities
  • collaborative approaches
  • the preservation and application of indigenous knowledge to ESD
  • challenges, obstacles, and assistance needed 


The CMEC ESD Working Group will serve as an ESD network for collaboration for further implementation of ESD beyond the end of the UN Decade in 2014.