While the practice of what is called education for sustainable development (ESD) is increasing, there is no consensus on its precise definition. This article investigates the emergence of particular understandings of ESD and explores its implications for the local implementation of the United Nations Decade of ESD with a focus on the case of Japan. From the perspectives of sociology of education and comparative education, some of the dominant uses of the term ESD will be examined. The challenges will be discussed for a progressive reconstruction of education and society towards a more sustainable future.
Keywords: sustainability education, sustainable development, United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, DESD, environmental education, Japan