This content was published in the period between 21 January 2019 and 8 July 2021.

Speech from

Speech by Matilda Ernkrans, Minister for Higher Education and Research, at the UNESCO World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development


May 19, 2021.
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I want to thank Unesco and the Government of Germany for hosting this conference.


International collaboration

Climate change, inequal access to education, gender inequality, poverty, mass loss of biodiversity and undemocratic movements. These are all inter-connected challenges.

Challenges that cannot be met by one nation alone.

Instead we must work together, as we have done during this conference, to truly achieve a sustainable development.


All young people have a right to be included in this, this is a matter of equity. Their knowledge and experiences are invaluable for the success of the 2030 Agenda.

Being a Swedish minister, I am proud of the movement Greta Thunberg has inspired, which gathers millions of young people all over the world.

Urging us to act now.

Swedish perspective 

Sweden has set out to be the first fossil free welfare country in the world. This guides us in all areas.

When it comes to education for sustainable development, it is integrated at all policy levels of the Swedish education system.

From pre-school to adult and higher education, as well as in teacher education.

This is important to secure sustainability in life-long learning, including through vocational training to ensure the transition to sustainable economies and jobs.

But policy documents are not enough.

We need education for sustainable development also in practice. Therefore, I want to underline the importance of monitoring and implementation when it comes to bringing about a more sustainable world.

In Sweden, we have evaluated the implementation at our universities and then asked them to follow-up on the results.

And we are also carrying out an inspection of secondary schools, which indicates that systematic implementation needs to improve.


Another of Sweden’s strengths regarding education for sustainable development is that many parts of our society are engaged. From civil society to universities.

I also want to highlight that UNESCO has an essential role in supporting national efforts. Sweden looks forward to the establishment of country initiatives and is currently mapping national ESD work.

The way forward

This conference, the kick-off on the framework for ESD 2030 must lead our way. And it’s up to us to deliver. In practice.

Better than we do today. Everyone of us.

Based on science, but also on equity. We need to acknowledge that the most well-educated and prosperous societies still make the largest ecological footprints.

Education for sustainable development is key for making this possible, and so is implementation and joint action.

I also want to add that education for sustainable development must have a human rights based approach, as full human rights is a fundamental part of a sustainable society.


We only have a few more years to achieve the goals in the 2030 agenda. The time to act is now.

Thank you!