UNESCO Chair Newsletter April 2023

Dear Colleagues, Network Partners, and Friends,

Greetings from Toronto. Most who read this newsletter are actively engaged with promoting the concept of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and you are aware of the tremendous growth of the discussion and opportunity that has emerged over time. To accelerate action and to promote knowledge sharing, collaboration, and mutual learning, transdisciplinary approaches in higher education have recently been addressed by the International Association of Universities in the first UNESCO ESD-Net 2030 Learning Session on ESD Pedagogy on 30 March 2023.

Transdisciplinary approaches are also at the focus of our interest during a fellowship at the tdAcademy at Leuphana University in Germany until May 2023. We aim to better understand how we can meaningfully engage with community stakeholders from all backgrounds on equal footing. The goal of this research project is to create more reliable, ongoing, and more reciprocal exchange between local and current perspectives with the curriculum as well as with in-service teacher training to jointly address our wicked societal challenges.

Starting in April 2023 and sponsored by the German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU), the new Politics4Future online course, a multi-cultural, facilitated pilot program for students from six universities in five countries, aims to build a better understanding of the role of politics and political participation in the pursuit of a sustainable future among those who will teach in formal or non-formal settings.

More to come in the next months as we proceed with these exiting new projects…

This newsletter provides a selection of upcoming events, opportunities, and recent publications of interest for you when engaged with ESD. Please feel free to share this newsletter widely with your networks. Thank you and take care.

Charles Hopkins & Katrin Kohl
UNESCO Chair in Reorienting Education towards Sustainability, York University

UNESCO Chair in Fellowship with tdAcademy at Leuphana University

Together with Alicia Jiménez from Earth Charter International in Costa Rica, we aim to develop ideas for a continuous community dialogue to integrate current and community-driven themes into curriculum and into teacher education in meaningful and appropriate ways. This localized approach will include bringing community stakeholders together and identifying shared concerns for sustainability. The results will be included into an open-resource teacher training module to to position schools as agents of social transformation.

The tdAcademy fellowship program provides the opportunity to explore new ideas and enables an active involvement of relevant actors of transdisciplinary research. Guests and fellows can work individually or collaboratively on specific topics, write publications or position papers and develop innovative approaches and ideas.

UNESCO Chair's INTEI as a case study in a new report on teacher education

The Expert Network on Economics of Education has recently published the analytical report ‘Teacher education for the green transition and sustainable development‘ (by Ingrid Mulà & Daniella Tilbury). The report is accompanied by an extensive case studies document, including the learnings from more than 20 years of collaboration in the International Network of Teacher Education Institutions (INTEI) hosted by the UNESCO Chair at York University. A policy brief is also available as well as an executive summary in English, French, and German.

Call for proposals: IAU International Conference on 27-29 November 2023

The IAU 2023 International Conference call for proposals is now open! The conference will be hosted by Qatar University and take place on 27-29 November 2023. Participants will discuss higher education potential to create impact with a focus on intercultural learning and dialogue. If you are interested in becoming a speaker and in contributing to the program, learn more.

Call for nominations: 2023 UNESCO-Japan Prize on ESD

UNESCO has launched the 8th call for nominations for the UNESCO-Japan Prize on ESD. Since 2015, the UNESCO/Japan Prize has been awarded to outstanding projects in ESD. Generously funded by the Government of Japan, the Prize will award three prizes of US$50,000 to exceptional projects and programs. ESD empowers learners to responsibly cope with urgent present global challenges like climate change and create a better future for all. By shining a light on great examples of ESD, UNESCO and Japan hope to inspire organizations, individuals, and governments to encourage sustainability in learners.

Apply now: 2023 SDG Action Awards

Applications are open for this year´s SDG Action Awards! At the midpoint of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the world stands at a crucial moment where transformation is possible and every action matters. In 2021, UNESCO Chair Associate Mark Terry’s film project Youth Climate Report was recognized out of thousands of applications for its contribution to achieving the SDGs.

It is your turn now! Are you working on an initiative that drives positive change and contributes to the achievement of the SDGs? Do you know a change maker making a difference towards a more inclusive, peaceful and sustainable future?

Call for abstracts: 11th ICSD to take place as a hybrid event on 18-20 September 2023

Under the theme ‘The Midpoint of the SDGs: Global and Local Progress & Challenges‘, the 11th International Conference on Sustainable Development (ICSD), the hybrid event will bring together people involved in research, policy, practice, and business. Participants will share practical solutions for achieving the SDGs at local and national levels. The event is hosted in collaboration by Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the Global Master’s in Development Practice (MDP). In 2022, York University’s Curricular Champion Sandra Peniston presented the ‘SDGs-in-the-Classroom’ Curricular Innovation Hub: A Pan-University Interdisciplinary Scaffolded Strategy to Incubate and Accelerate the Infusion of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals into York’s Classrooms. It is your turn now!

Global Citizen Scholarship Program 2023 hosted by the Ban Ki-Moon Centre

Join the global network of young change makers at the Ban Ki-Moon Centre for Global Citizens and apply for this year´s scholarship program. The program is designed for 15 young change makers, ages 20 to 35, from African countries.

The Global Citizen Scholarship is a fully virtual scholarship program that empowers young African change makers to address one or more of the SDGs in their community by proposing and implementing a localized SDG Micro-Project while benefiting from a summer school and expert training/workshops.

Mainstream Sustainability Literacy through TASK

How can we ensure that students are well prepared to consider elements of sustainability in their future careers, make responsible choices, and act ethically? Sulitest has launched TASK – The Assessment of Sustainability Knowledge – to respond to these questions. TASK allows higher education institutions the ability to measure the level of sustainability knowledge of their students. This program serves to ensure that understanding sustainable development is not a luxury reserved for students enrolled in dedicated courses or activists involved in certain causes but is instead a common language available to all.

Congratulations on the successful launch of the first international certificate on sustainability knowledgeJC Carteron and Aurélien Decamps!

Attend the National ESE-TE Research Symposium in Toronto on 26 May 2023

Register now to attend the biennial Research Symposium on Environmental & Sustainability Education in Teacher Education (ESE-TE) on 26 May 2023 at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) of the University of Toronto, hosted by the ESE-TE National Network.

Under the theme ‘Teacher Education for a Sustainable Future: Call to Action for Climate Justice‘, scholarly presentations focus on the critical role of teacher education in transforming society. The event promotes a holistic integration of ESE in teacher education at Canadian universities, and builds on the Association of Canadian Deans of Education’s Accord on Education for a Sustainable Future to accelerate action towards an equitable, just and sustainable future for all.

Become a Sustainable Living Ambassador with York University's Microlecture Series

York University’s new Microlecture Series in Sustainable Living empowers everyone to take action in righting the future for a more sustainable world. Aligned with the University Academic Plan, York University upholds sustainability as a vital compass for decisions and initiatives. Join York University in creating positive change and participate in the interdisciplinary open access course!

News Flash from York University

The Faculty of Education at York University recently launched a new 2023-2027 Strategic Plan, fostering a view of education for its diverse community of faculty, educators, staff, and students as an engagement of intellectual, ethical, social, and interpersonal relationships.

York University welcomed its inaugural Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO). As part of the commitment to become one of the most sustainable universities in Canada, York’s CSO Mike Layton is set to enhance the institutional impact for a sustainable future.

York International recently launched a new 2022-2027 Internationalization and Global Engagement Strategy. The strategy reflects a commitment to advancing global engagement and expands York’s position as an agent of positive change.

SDG-iLevel: promoting individual contributions to the SDGs in universities

Higher education plays a key role in achieving sustainable development. So far, the impact of universities to the SDGs is mainly considered at institutional level. Individual contributions too often go unnoticed and unrecognized. This might prevent faculty or staff from realizing their full potential to promote the SDGs and create improvements in universities and society at large. The EU Erasmus+ project ‘SDG-iLevel: Leveraging Individual SDG Contributions by University Staff‘ aims to bridge this gap. Find out more!

UNESCO promotes ESD with new videos

Mainstreaming ESD is further picking up speed, following COP 27, the UN Transforming Education Summit and more than 130 subsequent member state commitments to prioritize and finance quality education. Yet, we still struggle making sense out of ESD as a concept to unleash its full potential as a key enabler of all SDGs. UNESCO supports all learners with new videos to enhance understanding. Check out these promotional videos in a short or long version, also available in French or Arabic.

Last but not least: Want to play, explore, or connect with others?🎮👾🎯

The Climate Game

Can you reach net zero by 2050? See if you can save the planet from the worst effects of climate change as you become the global minister and want to solve the world´s problems. Try this new game by Financial Times in partnership with Infosys.


En-ROADS Simulator

En-ROADS is a simulator that gives you the ability to explore cross-sector climate solutions. Find out what you can do to ensure a resilient future for all. Developed by Climate Interactive, MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative, Ventana Systems.



Mapting is a social media app where you can share actions you are taking to contribute to achieving the SDGs. Mapting connects your SDG actions with the Earth Charter principles. You can share videos and photos to connect with and learn from others.