National /

Decade of Education for Sustainable Development

Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development

(MGIEP), New Delhi: UNESCO Category I Institute, set up in 2012, focuses on ESD and Peace Education in Asia and the Pacific through research and capacity building to develop and promote new educational approaches, empower learners to transform their lives and build a more peaceful and sustainable world.



The objective of UNESCO Chair programme is to build capacity of higher education and research institutions through training, research, development and implementation of innovative programmes, academic exchange and promote interdisciplinary work. Some of the UNESCO

Chairs set up contributing to its objectives are UNESCO Chair on ESD and the Human Habitat, UNESCO Chair Climate Science and Policy, and UNESCO Chair on Culture, Habitat and Sustainable Development.


National DESD Committee set up to provide inputs for DESD:

The Indian National Commission for Cooperation with UNESCO (INCCU) is the national nodal agency for DESD. India set up a national DESD committee comprising representation from different ministries and departments. CEE was designated as the Nodal Agency for implementing DESD.


Forming Centres of Excellence

Various Ministries of Government of India have established Centres of Excellence in various sectors like urban development, rural development, environment, and higher education that acts as resource centres.  Some Centres of Excellence are Centre for Environment Education, C. P. R. Environmental Education Centre, The Energy and Resource Institute and Centre for Environment and Development. These Centres’ mandate is to conduct research, build capacity, knowledge management and resource development in the relevant field.


Mission mode to focus on key issues

Various Ministries of Government of India have introduced missions with proposed targets to shift towards an alternative and sustainable path of development. Some of these are on solar energy, sustainable habitat, sustainable agriculture, water, Himalayan ecosystem, strategic knowledge for climate change, health, enhanced employability, rural and urban livelihood.  To achieve objectives, these missions have the essential component of education, capacity building and research to gear existing systems.

ESD integration into formal education  

Realizing the significance and urgency of creating environmental awareness, and education as a potential instrument of social change, the Supreme Court directed Central and State educational authorities to make EE compulsory at the school and collegiate levels.

National Curriculum Framework (NCF) 2005, developed by the National Council for Educational Research and Training, through a broad consultative process, emphasizes on a shift from teaching to learning. It has as one of its key guiding principles – Connecting knowledge to life outside the school.

National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education (NCFTE, 2009) Incorporated pedagogy of environmental studies in teacher preparation courses. The document re-iterates that “in the present ecological crisis, promoted by extremely commercialized and competitive lifestyles, teachers and children need to be educated to change their consumption patterns and the way they look at natural resources.
Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (Education for All)
The Constitution of India provides for free and compulsory education to all children upto the age of 14 years. An amendment to the constitution in 2002 made this a fundamental right for all. SSA is the Government of India’s flagship programme for achievement of Universalisation of Elementary Education (UEE) in a time-bound manner.


Project based and Hands-on Learning

Paryavaran Mitra (Friends of the Environment)

The programme demonstrates transformative education for environmental leadership for students through curriculum-linked activities and action projects for positive change in behaviour and action, taken at individual, family, school and community levels.
Paryavaran Mitra has reached out to about 219, 888 schools in India, and has created strong networks among schools which facilitate peer learning and local problem solving.

National Nature Camping Programme: Inculcating sustainability values. This is an initiative by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Government of India, to sensitize children from middle school towards nature appreciation and conservation, which can later lead to positive environmental action at different levels. It is envisaged that every young person in the country will have had at least one camping experience in their lifetime.


More than 1,00,000 eco-clubs in schools are involved in environmental action under the  programme implemented in partnership between MoEFCC, state governments and NGOs.


Higher Education

Compulsory EE at undergraduate level
Following the Supreme Court order in 2004, under the guidance of University Grants Commission several universities and colleges have introduced mandatory environmental studies course at the undergraduate level aimed at raising awareness about environment and sustainability. A curriculum guideline and resource material has been developed for higher education institutions to offer this course. There are specialized courses/modules offered by various higher education institutions including Indian Institute of Technology and TERI University.

Sustainable Campus
Considering Ministry of Human Resource Development’s emphasis on minimizing environmental impact of an institution, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Delhi has established the Campus Sustainability Office. This initiative engages students to manage aspects (biodiversity, energy, water, waste) related to environment on campus. On the other hand IIT Madras has established a sustainability network, a student led initiative with the aim to make their institute as sustainability model campus.
Reference -

Online courses
Institutes such as Indira Gandhi National Open University with the aim of providing access to quality higher education to larger masses offer number of distance learning courses including the one on environment and sustainable development. In 2014, the Ministry of Human Resource Development under its programme ‘SWAYAM – Study Webs of Active-Learning for Young Aspiring Minds’ will offer free of cost online learning courses developed by prestigious education institutions of India.
Reference – Ministry of Human Resource and Development, Government of India. 2014. Highlights of New Initiatives taken by the Ministry of HRD. Accessed on 29 October 2014. Available at

Meta University
The concept of Meta University introduced in 2012, has enabled collaborative and trans-disciplinary learning possible within network of universities. The key purpose of this initiative as stated by the Ministry of Human Resource Development is to enable students to benefit from learning resources of different universities.  The University of Delhi and Jamia Millia Islamia University is successfully offering masters level course on mathematics education. The Jawaharlal Nehru University with other institutions is in the process to offer course in the field of climate change, education and health.
Reference – Dr. D. Purandeswari, Ministry of State for Human Resource Development, Government of India. 2012. Meta University. Accessed 29 October 2014. Available at
University of Delhi and Jamia Millia Islamia. 2014. Master of Mathematics Education – Admission Announcement. Accessed on 29 October 2014. Available at
Jawaharlal Nehru University. 2012. Accessed on 29 October 2014. Available at

Unnat Bharat Abhiyan
Unnat Bharat Abhiyan (scheme/campaign?) launched in 2014 aims to pool the knowledge and resources of all the Indian Institute of Technology suitable technology and other institutions for sustainable rural development. The focus will be on addressing issues related to water management, organic farming, renewable energy, development of infrastructure, rural livelihood and employment. A workshop was organized in September 2014 by the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi to work with several other institutions to development implementation plan for this programme.
Reference – Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India. 2014. Highlights of the achievement of the Union HRD Ministry. Accessed on 29 October 2014. Available at
Indian Institute of Technology Delhi. 2014. National Workshop on Unnat Bharat Abhiyan. Accessed on 29 October 2014. Available at and

National Knowledge Commission
National Knowledge Commission (NKC) formed in 2005 with the aim of advancing development, laid on the foundation of knowledgeable society.  It emphasizes on knowledge reformation and new knowledge generation to address 21st century challenges. Thus the commission focuses on “enhancing access to knowledge, reinvigorating institutions where knowledge concepts are imparted, creating a work class environment for creating of knowledge, promoting applications of knowledge for sustained and inclusive growth and using knowledge applications in efficient delivery of public services.”  
Reference – National Knowledge Commission. 2009. National Knowledge Commission – Report to the Nation 2006-2009. Accessed 30 October 2014, Available at


Creating an Enabling Environment for ESD

An important goal for sustainable development in India is development that is socially just and equitable, not just reaching a few but including everyone. An enabling environment for ESD has been created  in India through mainstreaming of traditional knowledge and practices, sustainable development orientation to Five Year Plans, Institutional mechanisms, Democratic governance, Stakeholder -  multi-stakeholder forums and networks, consultation process, ICT, media and national commitment to DESD.



Regional Centres of Expertise in India (RCEs)

UNU-IAS has helped initiate RCEs in Bangalore, Chandigarh, Delhi, East Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Guwahati, Kodagu, Lucknow, Mumbai, Pune, and Srinagar in India. This network of formal, non-formal and informal education organizations is mobilised under the RCEs, to deliver ESD to local and regional communities. RCEs aspire to achieve the goals of DESD by translating its global objectives into the context of local communities with whom they work.
Supporting Grassroot Innovation – National Innovation Foundation-India

National initiative to strengthen grassroots technological innovation and outstanding traditional knowledge, expanding policy and institutional space for grassroots technological innovators in any field of human survival without any outside help.
Innovations rewarded and supported for diffusion through commercial and non-commercial channels.
Database of more than 200,000 ideas, innovations and traditional knowledge practices (not all unique) from over 555 districts.
A grassroots to global (G2G) model to change the way the world looks at the creativity and innovations at grassroots.
Science Express – Biodiversity Special (SEBS), state-of-the-art exhibition mounted on a train,  bringing biodiversity awareness to the doorsteps of general public including children and youth in India. Commissioned by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, partnering with the Department of Science and Technology and Indian Railways, several specialized organizations have contributed to the content knowledge. SEBS has received over 4.5 million visitors including students, teachers, and general public covering 114 stations across the country. 

Centre for Environment Education along with the Vikram A Sarabhai Community Science Centre (VASCSC) has designed, developed, installed and executed the exhibition.


Leveraging on expertise and knowledge of premier institutions such as IITs and IIMs

Unnat Bharat Abhiyan

Launched in 2014, this programme aims to pool the knowledge and resources of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and other institutions for sustainable rural development. It will address issues such as water management, organic farming, renewable energy, development of infrastructure, rural livelihood and employment.

Online courses

Institutes such as Indira Gandhi National Open University provide access to quality higher education through distance learning courses including one on environment and sustainable development. In 2014, MHRD under its programme, ‘SWAYAM – Study Webs of Active-Learning for Young Aspiring Minds’ will offer free of cost online learning courses developed by the IITs and IIMs.


Leveraging networks and working in partnership

UNESCO Biosphere Reserves as Learning Sites

Government of India has established 15 Biosphere Reserves, four of which are a part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, based on the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme list.


Public Consultations and governance – multistakeholder to inform policy formulation  –

Devolution of Power
The 73rd and 74th amendments in the Constitution Act of India have enabled decentralization by giving power to local government (Panchayats and local governments in urban areas) for local area planning, decision making and implementation.
Public Consultations
MoEFCC conducted   consultations on introduction of genetically modified (GM) eggplant, formulation of National Mission for a Green India, and Coastal Regulation Zone. Facilitated by CEE across India, the consultations were an inclusive process and helped to raise awareness on various issues. Inputs from these consultations resulted in a moratorium on release of GM eggplant and strengthened the formulation of National Mission for a Green India and Coastal Regulation Zone.


Legal instruments for transparency 

National Green Tribunal

The National Green Tribunal was established in 2010 specifically with the aim of solving cases related to environmental issues. Given the complex and multidisciplinary nature of these issues, the tribunal ensures solving of environmental disputes by relevant experts.

Right to Information - Bringing Information to the Citizens

Under the Right to Information Act, 2005, the Central Government departments are mandated to publish all relevant information online on the RTI Portal, to make it accessible to citizens, to promote transparency and accountability.



EDUSAT – First Dedicated Education Satellite
Launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in 2004, EDUSAT has revolutionized classroom teaching through IP based technology. It is meant for distant class room education from school level to higher education.
E-Knowledge portals

India has a variety of examples in the way ICTs have been applied in various sectors from education to health-care by the corporate sector, government and NGOs. ICTs are widely used and have penetrated all parts of the country. The Government of India seeks to utilize its potential in many of its programmes through a National e-governance plan. India Environment Portal (managed by CSE), and the India Water Portal (managed by ARGHYAM) are among many examples of knowledge portals.
National Knowledge Commission (NKC)

Formed in 2005, NKC focuses on “enhancing access to knowledge, reinvigorating institutions where knowledge concepts are imparted, creating a work class environment for creating of knowledge, promoting applications of knowledge for sustained and inclusive growth and using knowledge applications in efficient delivery of public services.” 


 Building capacity – cashing on the youth dividend

LAMP Fellowship: Unique opportunity for youth to engage with national policy making. The Legislative Assistants to Members of Parliament (LAMP) Fellowship places one legislative assistant to work with one MP for 11 months. The Fellowship exposes LAMP Fellows to the working of Parliament and the legislative process. They provide customised research support to MPs, providing research inputs to help them fulfill their parliamentary duties. Every year over 40 young bright Fellows undertake this fellowship.
Internship Scheme 2014

The ‘MHRD Internship Scheme 2014’ gives opportunity to undergraduate/postgraduate/doctoral programme students to work with the Ministry and complement the policy development process. It will help students gain experience, understand policy formulation and contribute to it through policy research.


Building on culture and traditional knowledge  

Revitalising Indian Medical Heritage

Foundation for Revitalisation of Local Health Tradition (FRLHT), Bangalore, a national Centre of Excellence for medicinal plants and traditional knowledge, has a database on Indian Medicinal Plants. The first version of this database correlates 7263 botanical names with around 1,00,000 vernacular names of plants entities in nine different languages. It includes more than 5000 plant images of medicinal plants appropriately linked to botanical names.

Indian Heritage Cities Network

The Indian Heritage Cities Network (IHCN), a programme of UNESCO New Delhi in 2006, aims to bring together Indian historic cities and towns on a common platform to share experiences and good practices for sustainable development and conservation of their unique cultural heritage. The Network creates city-to-city partnerships between the local population, technical experts, and the administration, and encourages active local community participation.


Way Forward

Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana

Launched by the Indian Prime Minister in October 2014, this scheme will focus on development of villages which will be demand-driven, society-inspired and based on people’s participation. The villages will be adopted by Members of Parliament and will follow the ideal, holistic village model envisioned by Mahatma Gandhi.

Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana

This scheme will ensure universal access to banking facilities, provide basic banking accounts with overdraft facility and debit card to all households in the country. The focus will be on empowering citizens and involving youth through a financial literacy programme along with creation of options for online transitions.

Swachh Bharat Mission

Swachh Bharat campaign, launched on 2 October 2014 aims to achieve sanitation facilities such as toilets and waste disposal systems, village cleanliness and safe drinking water in the country by 2019. A ‘Swachh Bharat Kosh’ has been set up to attract funds for improving cleanliness, especially in schools.

Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao

The Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao scheme has been announced by the Prime Minister to focus on generating awareness and sensitizing the citizens about issues of women and girl welfare. It will also work on gender mainstreaming in schools and on improving welfare services and safety for women in larger cities.

100 Smart Cities

The Government of India has envisioned ‘100 Smart New Cities’ which will provide high quality information accessibility to citizens. Profound infrastructures for Water, Sanitation, Health Care, Transportation, Education, Sports and Recreation will be some of the salient features of these cities. Being environmentally friendly, smart cities will use sustainable materials for building facilities and reduce energy consumption, along with minimum waste generation, recycling, water harvesting.

Mission Clean Ganga

The Government constituted the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA), chaired by the Prime Minister, with the objective to ensure effective moderation of pollution and conservation of the river Ganga. The ‘Mission Clean Ganga’ was launched on 31st December 2009 under this authority, which will ensure that by the year 2020 no untreated municipal sewage and industrial effluents flow into the river. The project will focus on schemes pertaining to sewage treatment plants, pumping stations, community toilet complexes and construction of dhobi Ghats.

Make In India

The Make in India initiative was launched on 25 September 2014 by the Prime Minister to chart out a new commitment between the Government and the business entities for active cooperation. Using India’s unique combination of democracy, demography, and demand, this initiative also aims at identifying domestic companies having leadership in innovation and new technology and turning them into global champions.