Mr Nizami Mamedov. Doctor of philosophy, professor, UNESCO expert

Decade of Education for Sustainable Development as Premise to Formation of New Culture

 1. Concept of sustainable development was adopted by the United Nations (Rio de Janeiro, 1992) due to the fact that by the end of the XX century the world reached an ecological threshold, that required dramatic changes in ecological, technological foundations of its existence.  While analyzing the problems and perspectives of the contemporary society shift to the sustainable development it became apparent that such an approach is applicable in case of the harmonious social relations, moral development of humanity, changes of human qualities on the basis of humanistic values and ideals. As a result the concept of sustainable development was synthesized, in a broader sense it was turned into a theory of historical process, reflecting social and natural (socio-natural) reality in integrity and development/1/.

2. Formation of a new culture is a compulsory condition to enable the shift of the contemporary society to sustainable development.   Such a new culture can be defined as the “culture of sustainable development”/2/The programming function of culture in human vital functions is noticed nowadays by many scholars. All human achievements, all the forms and shapes human activities undertake are predominated by culture.  National cultures change in historical time dimension under the pressure of internal and external reasons.  These processes are connected with a self-regulation of a society, terrestrial spread and interaction of different cultures, convergence of their values. Cultures that are not aimed at development, perception of new values, disappear with a lapse of time /3/.

3. Culture of sustainable development can be formed only on the basis of purposeful actions.  The main axis of the sustainable development culture is constituted of the awareness that people live on earth not for the purpose of for their own satisfaction but for the performance of a definite biosphere function.  Whereas  traditionally culture as ”creation of a human” has been contrasted to nature, culture of sustainable development should become  a basis to harmonize the social reality and people’s relations with natural environment.  

4. The system of education serves as a constitutive system of a culture, enabling its purposeful transformation, defining spiritual, scientific and theoretical premises for the reproduction and development of society.  The choice of a relevant concept of education depends on the predominating value and worldview settings of the society, its demands.  Unambiguous and tantamount structure of these factors represent a difficulty. The problem of choice and prioritizing raises inevitably both in identification of the common strategy of education and multiple private issues of teaching of certain disciplines.  To grant this project a necessary ecological-humanistic orientation the UN declared a “Decade of education for sustainable development (DESD)” /4/.

5. In general, DESD confirmed that the education of future should lean on such traditions of classical education as fundamentality, depth, interdisciplinary, continuity, humanity; it should proceed from a holistic approach to a human being, society and nature, humanistic value-worldview settings.  In this connection one cannot ignore interconnection between ecological, social, economic, cultural aspects of reality.  The methodology of education for the benefit of sustainable development at least should presume: formation of civil society, social partnership, leveling off of disproportions in different spheres of social life and elimination of stratification in socioeconomic sphere;  optimization of qualitative and quantitative components of the demographic and migration problems; creation of loyal spiritual climate in the society; etc.

6. UNESCO strategy in education for the benefit of sustainable development calls for:

-  legal execution of the process;

- validation of the corresponding aims and essential direrctives of education;

- introduction and application of the pedagogical methods and technologies in compliance with aims and planned results;

- necessity to introduce a system of indicators, reflecting the level of correspondence of different levels and directions of education with interests of sustainable development;

- comprehensive control and effective management of education quality.

7. Along with that, this process has a contradictory nature despite of the fact one is aware of the urging necessity to reform education for the benefit of sustainable development.  This process is routed in socio-political, economic as well as scientific-pedagogical, methodological circumstances. For instance, such tendencies as inequality of the population density around the world, preservation and increase of its differences in its qualitative and quantitative indicators, escalation of confrontation of the developed and emerging countries; enhancement of nationalism and fundamentalism etc. cannot encourage reformation of education for the benefit of sustainable development.  

Scientific-methodological issue includes the theme that education for sustainable development is directed towards the future, whereas pedagogical methods are aimed at knowledge adoption reflecting the real connections and relations in natural and social environment. Future bears a character of vagueness. And its diffused outlines, diffused essence can hardly become a basis of education.  The given contradiction defines the necessity to invent brand new pedagogical technologies aimed at future forecasting.  

8. Given that the transition to sustainable development is a long historical process which may take a decade (the UN defined the concept of sustainable development as “Agenda of the XXI century”), it is apparent that the current “Decade of education for sustainable development” should be regarded only as premise to formation of the culture of sustainable development.   Targets set by DESD in most cases are fundamental and require revisions of approaches and understandings every time.


1. Мамедов Н.М. Исторический  процесс и концепция устойчивого развития// Вестник Комиссии РФ  по делам ЮНЕСКО,2010,вып.11.

2. Мамедов Н.М. Культура устойчивого развития// Охрана природы и природные ресурсы. 2007, №1.

3.Мамедов Н.М. Культура как фактор развития//Вестник МГАДА,2011, №3.

4. Мамедов Н.М. Статус образования в переходе общества к устойчивому развитию.// Экологическое образование в рамках Десятилетия образования в интересах устойчивого развития ООН.Материалы Ш Всероссийской научно-практической  конференции.Ханты-Мансийск,2008.