Gisela Cebrian Bernat, Speaker at Sustainability Competencies in Education: current trends, challenges and innovative initiatives
Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Spain
Title : Sustainability competencies in education: Current trends, challenges and innovative initiatives


Climate change and sustainability challenges are global, complex and ‘wicked’ problems, which involve creativity, critical thinking, decision-making and value-based sustainability competencies. Transformative learning process where innovative educational practices, critical thinking, inter- and transdisciplinarity are promoted are fundamental. Interactive, learner-centred teaching and learning settings should be created; therefore, sustainability education asks for an action-oriented, transformative pedagogy, which supports self-directed learning, participation and collaboration, problem-orientation, inter- and transdisciplinarity and linking formal and non-formal learning to the development of key sustainability competencies.

Developing sustainability competencies amongst all levels of education is particularly critical to the development of sustainability literacy and individuals becoming positive change agents in their workplace and personal lives. While signs of progress in embedding Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) across education levels are plausible during the past decades, there is also an acknowledgement that what we have learned to date is not enough for dealing with the current challenge of sustainability and climate emergency. From early childhood to higher education, theoretical frameworks and practical efforts to embed ESD through whole-school approaches have been documented, however these practices tend to remain as niches and examples of good practice. This presentation focuses on presenting an overview of the state of embedment of sustainability competencies within education, identifying existing trends and challenges in the integration of ESD and presenting a collection of best practice and innovative educational initiatives, such as school climate assemblies, developed within the framework of the EDUCLIMAD project (TED2021-129854A-I00), which empower youngsters and their communities to co-create more sustainable futures.

Audience Take Away

  • Engage in the EDS and sustainability competencies discourse and existing frameworks
  • Reflect on how ESD and sustainability competencies can be embedded and expanded through own research or teaching
  • Learn from existing innovative educational initiatives that promote sustainability competencies and tackling climate emergency through the active participation of stakeholder 
  • Discover school climate assemblies as an innovative method and strategy to promote


Dr. Gisela Cebrián is a Serra Húnter Associate Professor in the Pedagogy Departament at Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV). She is a member of the research group EDIT - Educational Transformation, Leadership and Sustainability. Her research interests include Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), teacher education, organisational learning, sustainability competencies, educational leadership and curriculum innovation. Through her previous research, conducted wihin the framework of competitive R&D projects, she has explored: the conceptualisation and evaluation of sustainability competencies; the influence of student-centred approaches in sustainability competencies’ development amongst students and more recently how school climate assemblies can lead to more sustainable futures.