PERL and Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)
Sustainable development, as defined in Our Common Future , has gained acceptance around the world as representing a new paradigm for dealing with present problems and putting society back on a course where the resource base of civilization is not being undermined and growth is more equally distributed. Responsible living, with its emphasis on sustainable consumption, is an integral part of sustainable development. It connects change on the micro level with the larger, more overarching transformations on the macro level.
Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) seeks to integrate the principles, values and practices of sustainable development into all aspects of education and learning, in order to address the social, economic, cultural and environmental problems we face in the 21st century. ESD encourages changes in behaviour that will create a more sustainable future in terms of environmental integrity, economic viability, and a just society for present and future generations.
Following the Johannesburg Summit of 2002, the United Nations Decade on Education for Sustainable Development (DESD) was proclaimed by the U.N. General Assembly as a period for concentrated education action beginning on 1 January 2005. The DESD recognized the need for education for sustainable consumption as an essential part of ESD as does the Global Action Plan which has been designed as a follow-up to the DESD and as a concrete contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals and education agendas.
PERL contributes to ESD in a number of ways. The partnership creates both top-down and bottom-up approaches. PERL works with research, policy creation and curriculum reform on international, national and local levels. Capacity building is a central focus, particularly as regards teacher training and in-service teacher training. PERL also concentrates on developing methods and materials that educators can use “on the ground” in the classroom. Through national projects, Nordic projects, European and international projects PERL has been able to carry out research, initiate creative student activities, create courses, test materials, showcase alternative lifestyles and involve educators and learners around the world in the on-going process of defining and trying to implement responsible living. PERL is not been alone in its efforts to develop a culture of solidarity and stimulate reflective social learning. For this reason, one central activity which PERL has carried out has been to build bridges between like-minded groups.
 "Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It contains within it two key concepts: the concept of needs, in particular the essential needs of the world's poor, to which overriding priority should be given; and the idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment's ability to meet present and future needs." World Commission on Environment and Development. 1987. Our Common Future. Oxford, U.K. Oxford University Press. p.43.