group photo

Our History

The exploitation of natural resources, the pollution of the oceans, deforestation, global hunger: After numerous global problems appeared on the political agenda for the first time in the 1970s, it became evident following the Brundtland Report (1987) that the lifestyles of the western industrialised countries could not spread to the entire current or future global population without bursting the earth’s limits. The green light for the international sustainability discourse was given.

10 years after the world community finally decided to base its political action on the model of sustainable development, in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro, and after the interdependence of sustainable development and education was realised, the UN Decade project “Education for Sustainable Development” was proclaimed on the recommendation of the Rio+10 World Summit in Johannesburg. In doing so, the UN member states committed themselves to entrenching the principles of sustainable development in their education systems.

Against this backdrop, the ESD Expert Net was brought into being in 2010 at the behest of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. The goal: To put international dialogue about education for sustainable development on an equal footing and to exchange ideas with important emerging countries about how education can help to solve global problems.

Why Germany, India, Mexico and South Africa?

The selection of the participating counties took place against the backdrop of the fact that national action plans had already been put in place in these countries as part of the UN Decade project “Education for Sustainable Development” and that the first steps towards anchoring ESD had already been taken. Furthermore, the three countries, India, Mexico and South Africa, play a central role in networking the respective regions. A needs assessment also determined that Germany, India, Mexico and South Africa have access to highly qualified experts in ministries, universities, non-governmental organisations and private institutions. However, ESD experts did not exchange with one another sufficiently to continuously develop their offerings and to adjust to the state of international discussions.

Important ESD Expert Net milestones



  • First planning meeting with selected representatives from relevant organisations within the four countries



  • Foundation of the ESD Expert Net by the former InWent (Capacity Building International) gGmbH at the behest of the BMZ
  • Organisation of an initial conference in Pretoria, South Africa (“International Perspectives on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD): Strategies and experiences from Germany, India, Mexico and South Africa”)



  • Takeover of the programme by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (German Society for International Cooperation, GIZ)
  • Start of ESD Leadership Training for young professionals (until 2013)



  • Start of support for the German part of the network by Engagement Global gGmbH
  • Initiation of regular international network meetings alternating between the participating countries (ongoing)
  • Joint international conference “SET the future: Sustainability, Education, Transformation” in Berlin, Germany



  • Joint international event “Education for Sustainable Development – Moving towards longterm structures” in Feldafing, Germany



  • Takeover of the entire programme by Engagement Global
  • Joint international conference “Education is the Key – the role of education for the realization of the post 2015-agenda” in Bonn, Germany



  • Joint international conference “Encuentro Mundial de Acciones Sustentables: 1ͣ EDICIÓN: EDUCANDO.SOCIEDADES.RESILIENTES” in Saltillo, Mexico



  • Start of the project “Go! Global” as a new offer by the ESD Expert Net



  • Start of the programme "Mentoring for ESD-Leadership" as a new offer by the ESD Expert Net
  • Joint international conference „Machen ist wie Wollen – nur besser! From Knowledge to Action: ESD versus Climate Change” in Bonn, Germany



  • 2nd Batch of the Mentoring for ESD- Leadership Programme
  • Joint international conference “Mobilising Capacities for Global Sustainable Action” in Puebla, México



  • 3rd Batch of the Mentoring for ESD- Leadership Programme