A useful starting point is to explore whatis meant by the term “Sustainable development”, it is described as a conceptfor social modernisation focusing on the triple bottom line of social equity,environmental quality and economic prosperity (Voss et al, 2006) and wasformally introduced in 1987 by the Brundtland report, ‘Our Common Future’ which definedsustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the presentwithout compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”(WCED, 1987) later thegovernment launched its sustainable development strategy: ‘Securing the Future'(DEFRA, 2005), it recognized sustainable development as: living withinenvironmental limits, ensuring a strong, healthy and just society and creatingsustainable economy. It further highlighted four areas for thought: sustainableconsumption and production, climate change, natural resource protection andsustainable communities, and recognised that achieving its aim would need buyin from everyone, at all levels – governments, businesses, public sector,voluntary and community organisations, communities and families.
(Gilligan,2013). SustainableDevelopment is therefore the method by which sustainability is achieved,sustainability is arguably a process and not a destination (Shriberg, 2002) andif ever achieved, will happen over many generations, at different local,regional, national and global levels (Loorbach et al, 2009)This was later followed by the The UN Decade of Education for SustainableDevelopment (2005-2014) which sought “to mobilize the educational resources ofthe world to help create a more sustainable future”. It implied action forsustainability could be actioned in all areas (e.g. sustainable agriculture andforestry, research and technology transfer, finance, sustainable production andconsumption) and these are detailed in Agenda 21, the official document of the1992 Earth Summit.
The importance of Education was highlighted. Education alonecannot achieve a more sustainable future; however, without education andlearning for sustainable development, we will not be able to reach that goal(UNESCO, 2017) this lead to the concept of Education for sustainabledevelopment (ESD) which intends to “empower learners to takeinformed decision and responsible actions for environmental integrity, economicviability and a just society, for present and future generations, whilerespecting cultural diversity. It is about lifelong learning, and is anintegral part of quality education. ESD is holistic and transformationaleducation which addresses learning content and outcomes, pedagogy and thelearning environment. It achieves its purpose by transforming society” (UNESCO,2014). The past 20 years have beena time of rapid change, we have witnessed major advances in science andtechnology and the impact on how we live has been profound. This has resultedin drastic improvements to quality of life. (Summers & Cutting, 2016).
However this change has come ata considerable cost expressed through the hugely negative impacts on both thephysical and the living environments. This is evidenced by the relentless andrapid decline in the health of the planet is recorded by the world wide fundfor nature’s (WWF) state of the planet report. Summers & Cutting (2016)argue it is this deterioration in the physical environment, compounded byincreasing social and economic disparities within population that makes thefuture look increasingly bleak and that current social, economic andenvironmental trends are not sustainable. EXAMPLES OF SOME CURRENT SUSTAINABILITY ISSUES (CRAWFORDTHESIS)This uncertainty concerning the future, combined with equivocalviews on the possible solution, has deep implications in education, for thesimple reason that we are teaching the people who will be living in it (Summers& Cutting, 2016). There are several barriers to effectively blending ESD into Further Education(FE).
When considering sustainable development,however, it is not only language that is a problem, the concept itself iscontroversial. It has at least seventy different definitions and has beencalled vague, confusing and almost meaningless by some. (Porritt 2005, Lozano2008, Gibson 2000, Smyth 2006, Springett 2006, Gladwin et al 1995).
Views aboutit range from it being seen as ‘simply about the environment’, to being ‘tooworthy an issue without a business case (EAC/CAG 2008:ii). It is not limited toany sector or even any country, and is not easily translated into national orlocal issues (Banerjee 2003), leading to the perception that it is too big aproblem to