Interviews/speaking events


Keynote highlight: Wals, A.E.J. (2022) “Mindful innovation for a planet in crisis: new roles and responsibilities for IB school” – Keynote held at the IB Global Conference held in The Hague, October 6th, 2022. Here youcan have a look

IBKeynoteWals, A.E.J. (2022) “Re-orienting Teacher Education towards Sustainability“ Online Talk for the International Munich Lectures in Teacher Education, LMU, Munich, January 13, 2022.

Wals, A.E.J. (2022) ”Embedding Transformative Learning for Socio-Ecological Sustainability using a WSA“
Online Introduction held for the European RCE Meeting, Leeuwarden, February 8th, 2022.

Wals, A.E.J. (2022) ”Education bridging a troubled planet – a radical relational perspective“ Keynote held at the World Environmental Education Congress, Prague, March 14th, 2022.

Wals, A.E.J. (2022) “Creating Healthy Publishing Cultures: Being a Researcher in the Capitalocene” – Presentation Research Strand, World Environmental Education Congress, Prague, March 15th, 2022.

Wals, A.E.J. (2022). “”Reject, Resist & Regenerate – EE in Times of Global Dysfunction” – Keynote held at the  Youth Environmental Education Congress, Prague, March 16th, 2022.

Wals, A.E.J. (2022) “Masterclass – de WSA als integrale en handelingsgerichte benadering van duurzaamheid / als katalysator van onderwijsvernieuwing” Online Inleiding gehouden voor de VO- Academie, VO-Raad, Den Haag, 16 juni, 2022

Wals, A.E.J. (2022) “Whole School Approaches to Sustainability” Keynote held for the ENETOSH and EU-OSHA online event on “Strategies to promote physical health in education” in the framework of the current EU-OSHA campaign “Lighten the Load 2020-22”, June 23rd , 2022.

Wals, A.E.J. (2022) “Living Labs: Bridging Science and Society in Times of Urgency” – Online Keynote Held International Conference on Sustainability Culture, Taichung National University, Taichung, Taiwan, September 29, 2022.

Wals, A.E.J. (2022) “Transformative Citizen Science for Sustainability – An introduction on the occasion of the launch of the WUR Open Online Course, Wageningen, October 20th, 2022.

Wals, A.E.J. (2022) “Healthy Policy Frameworks for Transformative Education” – Online keynote held at the 5th UNESCO Forum on transformative education for sustainable development, global citizenship, health and well-being, Seoul, Korea, November 29th, 2022.

Wals, A.E.J. (2022) “The notion of learning for sustainability in the kindergarten context” Keynote held at the KindNow! Conference, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, Bergen, October 27th, 2022.

Wals, A.E.J. (2022) “A Whole Child in a Whole School in a Whole Community in a Troubled World – a
critical relational pedagogical perspective” – Online Input talk TND 7.2 Network event hosted by the Queensland University of Technology, October 27th, 2022.

Wals, A.E.J. (2022) “Regenerative teacher education in times of unsustainability” Keynote held at NABUs årskonferanse, NMBU, Ås, Norway, November 22nd, 2022.

Wals, A.E.J. (2022) “Mindful innovation for a planet in crisis: new roles and responsibilities for IB school” – Keynote held at the IB Global Conference held in The Hague, October 6th, 2022.

Wals, A.E.J. (2022) “Whole Hospital Approaches to Health & Sustainability – Conversation starters” Inleiding gehouden Inspiratiemiddag Gelderse Vallei Ziekenhuis, Ede, 1 november, 2022.


Wals, A.E.J. (2021) T-learning in Times of Transition Towards a Sustainable World.
Keynote held at the Learning for Sustainability Scotland, Annual meeting, 12-01-2021

Wals, A.E.J. (2021) Tegendraads leren voor een betere wereld een pedagogisch perspectief op wereldburgerschap en EDO. Keynote Teach Up! 2030, Vlaanderen, 04-03-2021

Wals, A.E.J. (2021) ‘Education Unusual – Regenerating Education in Light of Global Sustainability Challenges’, Keynote held at the Change Initiative Global Online Meeting of UNESCO’s ASPnet, 31-05-2021

Wals, A.E.J.  & Pasternak, R. (2021) De Whole School Approach als integrale en handelingsgerichte benadering van duurzaamheid op school, NVON Online ALV Mini-congres, 09-06-2021

Wals, A.E.J. (2021) Re-orienting Education in Times of Systemic Global Dysfunction – a transformative learning perspective. Keynote held for ComLab #3 Fair for All? Sustainability and Social Justice, 12-06-2021

Wals, A.E.J. (2021) Rethinking teaching and learning in light of the great transformation, Keynote held for #DBUdigital Online-Forum Die große Transformation – Nachhaltigkeitsdilemmata und Umgang mit Unsicherheiten, 21-06-2021.

Wals, A.E.J. (2021) Re-imagining Science Education on a Planet in Crisis
Keynote NFSUN – The Nordic Research Symposium on Science Education, VIA University College, Aarhus, DK,  01-06-2021

Wals, A.E.J. (2021) Education as a catalyst for transitioning towards a sustainable world, Keynote held at the 3rd Ecological Education Transition Forum, Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education (SMOE), 19-08-2021

Wals, A.E.J. (2021) Creating Healthy Learning Ecologies for a better tomorrow, Online Keynote held at Mid-Sweden University, 21-10-2021

Wals, A.E.J. (2021) Active (g)local citizenship and lifelong learning for sustainability, Keynote held at the Conference on Strengthening education systems from a lifelong learning perspective, Co-organised by the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning and Shanghai Open University, 12-11-2021.

Wals, A.E.J. (2021) Transformative Education as a Game Changer on a Planet in Trouble, Keynote Seminar Game changers for change agents? Centre for Development and Environment (CDE), Bern Switzerland, 02-11-2021

Wals, A.E.J. (2021) Fostering engagement in higher education for societal transformations towards sustainability – a transition perspective, Keynote National Chung Hsing University in Taichung (NCHU), 03-11-2021

Wals, A.E.J. (2021) More than the Sum of Its Parts: A Whole School Approach to Sustainability – a transition perspective, Keynote Finnish National Teacher Meeting Commissioned by the National Agency of Education, 11-11-2021

Wals, A.E.J. (2021) Regenerative education as a driver of socio-ecological sustainability:
A whole-person, whole-school and whole-community perspective. Keynote held at the European Education Summit 2021, European Union, Brussels, 09-12-2021

Wals, A.E.J. (2021) Healthy Policy Frameworks for Transformative Education, Keynote held at the 5th UNESCO Forum on Transformative Education for Sustainable Development, Global Citizenship, Health and Well-being Co-organized by UNESCO and APCEIU, Hosted by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, 29-11-2021.


Wals, AEJ (2020) Higher Education, Disruptive Capacity Building & Societal Transformation
Bristol University Forum on the role of Higher Education Teaching and Public Engagement in Addressing the Climate Emergency, January 6th, 2020, University of Bristol.

Wals, AEJ (2020) Rethinking teaching and learning with people and planet in mind –
principles and practices, Strengthening Bildung for Sustainable Development  at the Pedagogische Hochschule Bern, January 23, 2020 .

Wals, AEJ (2020) Duurzaamheid als katalysator van toekomstbestendig onderwijs voor een betere wereld. Natuurlijk NLT Conferentie, Doorn, 13 februari, 2020.

Wals, AEJ (2020) SDGs as direction providers for improved quality in higher education. GMV Virtual Forum on Sustainability in Higher Education, Gothenburg Cnetre for Sustainable Development, Gothenburg, June 18, 2020.

Wals, AEJ (2020) Connecting in times of distancing, polarization and urgency – what role for higher education? Virtual Higher Education Summit on Transformative Learning, Bern, September 2020.

Wals, AEJ (2020) Environmental Education for Sustainable Development – towards an integrated whole school approach. Annual National EE Meeting held by the Ministry of Education of Taiwan, Taipei, 15th of October 2020.

Wals, AEJ (2020) Naar toekomstbestendig onderwijs voor een betere wereld middels
een Whole School Approach. Inspiratiedag CNME – Maastricht, 14 oktober, 2020.

Wals, AEJ (2020) The Role of Universities in Co-creating Transitions towards Sustainability. Kick-off Baltic University Programme (BUP) Webinar Series, December 8th, 2020.

Wals, AEJ (2020) Citizenship education fostering environmental sustainability
“Strengthening Citizenship Education at Local Level” – UNESCO GNLC Cluster on Citizenship Education
Coordinating cities: Larissa (Greece) and Yeonsu (Republic of Korea), November 11th, 2020.

Wals, AEJ (2020) Learning our way out of global dysfunction, Conversation starters for Climathon Jaffna 2020! Sri Lanka, November 14th, 2020.

Wals, AEJ (2020) Higher Education in Times of Climate Urgency, Polarization and Psychic Numbing – Navigating Bildung and Activism. University Alliance for Sustainability Conference, Bonn, Germany, October 20th, 2020.

Wals, AEJ (2020) Connecting with People and Planet in Times of Social Distancing and Climate Urgency: Towards a Relational Pedagogy. NU2020 – Karolinska Institutet, the Red Cross University College, Stockholm Institute of Music Education, Södertörn University and KTH Royal Institute of Technology, October 7th, 2020.


Irish Public Radio, Dublin City 103.2 Arjen Wals – Sustainability and Disruption in Education In: Inside Education – a podcast for educators interested in teaching An Irish perspective on education for all who value teaching


Wals, A.E.J. (2019) Should and Can Education Save the Planet? Keynote European Conference on Educational Research – ECER 2019, September 3-6, Hamburg, Germany

Wals ECER Key Note 2019

Wals, A.E.J. (2019) Transforming education and learning in light of urgent socio-ecological challenges and global systemic dysfunction Keynote European Ecological Federation (EEF) Congress, July 29th – August 2nd, Lisbon, Portugal

Wals, A.E.J. (2019) Learning our way out of extinction rethinking education in light of systemic global dysfunction – Keynote held at the PhD Summer School ‘Creating a Climate for Change’ – U4 for SDG4, June 4th, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands

Wals, A.E.J. (2019) Whole School Approach voor duurzaamheid als katalysator van toekomstbestendig onderwijs. Plenaire openingslezing gehouden tijdens het afsluitende symposium van het NRO-project ‘De gehele school door een groene bril’, 29 mei, AERES, Wageningen, The Netherlands

Wals, A.E.J. (2019) Designing learning processes and learning spaces that enable students to contribute meaningfully to sustainability – Keynote held at the Conference KTH Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL), March 28-29, Stockholm, Sweden

Wals, A.E.J. (2019) Geen banen op een dode planeet: Voor welke toekomst leiden we op? Keynote gehouden op het jaarcongres van Velon/Velov Congress op 18/19 maart, Stadsschouwburg Breda, The Netherlands.


Publico – Portuguese National Newspaper (20-07-2019)
Arjen Wals: urgência das medidas ambientais pode levar a regimes “ecototalitários”
Investigador holandês defendeu em congresso em Lisboa o papel das escolas na educação ambiental.

NRC (National News Paper) (20-03-2019)
Hoe leren we kinderen consuminderen?

Flow Magazine 5, 2019 – Interview (July-August, 2019)
Hoe je meer waardering krijgt voor wat je al hebt (How you can come to appreciate more what you already have)

Prikkels Magazine – Cultuur op school, Zomer 2019 – Column (June-July, 2019)
Moet klimaateducatie een verplicht vak worden? .. (Should climate education become a mandatory subject in schools? No…)

Kader – Vakblad voor leidinggevenden in het funderend onderwijs – Interview (Jaargang 24, nummer 7, maart)
Duurzaamheid in het DNA (Sustainability in our DNA)

North American Association for Environmental Education – EEPRO – GEEP – Life Chat (17-04-2019)
Live Chat with Dr. Arjen Wals: EE and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

One World Magazine (National Magazine on Sustainability) – Interview (25-01-2019)
Scholen doen te weinig aan klimaatverandering (School don’t adequately address climate change) & Westers denken belemmert duurzaamheid in onderwijs

Onderwijsnieuwsdienst (Dutch Education News Service) (26-01-2019)
Scholen doen te weinig aan klimaatverandering (Schools don’t engage enough with climate change)

Leren voor Morgen (National Platform Learning for Tomorrow) (16-04-2019)
ActueelDuurzaam onderwijs volgens Arjen Wals (Sustainable Education according to Arjen Wals)


Wals, AEJ (2018) Leaving the Titanic – Can higher education and the SDGs help humanity overcome global systemic dysfunction? Keynote held on November 13 at the Wissenschaft Im Wandel Conference, Vienna, Austria.

Wals, AEJ (2018) The SDG‘s as a catalyst for ‘off-the-grid‘ science for a more sustainable world. Growth in Transition Conference, November 14-15th, Vienna, Austria

Wals, AEJ (2018) ESE Research in and on transitions in times of systemic unsustainability. Keynote held at the Nordic Research Conference on Environmental and Sustainability Education in Örebro, Sweden, October 25th, 2018.

Wals, AEJ (2018) Rethinking teaching and learning in higher education in light of global sustainability challenges. Keynote held at the Teaching and Learning in Higher Education Professional Development Seminar at Södertörn University, Sweden, October 23rd, 2018.

Wals, AEJ (2018) No Jobs on a Dead Planet: How to educate for a sustainable world? Jönköping University Sustainability Day, Keynote held at the Jönköping University Sustainability Day, September 18th, 2018

Wals, AEJ (2018) Teaching to Sustain and to Disrupt: Education in Times of Systemic Global Dysfunction. Keynote held at the 43rd annual ATEE Conference, Gävle, Sweden, August 21st, 2018.

Wals, AEJ (2018) ESD for the SDGs – Rethinking education in times of global systemic dysfunction, Keynote held at the The Annual Conference for Science and the Environment Challenges in Environmental Sciences, Weizmann Institute of Science, June 20-21, 2018.

Wals, AEJ (2018) ICT as a driver and as a barrier to sustainable development – a pedagogical perspective. Keynote held at the SWEDNET/ITHU conference, Gothenburg, Sweden, May 24th, 2018.

Wals, AEJ (2018) The role of education in overcoming global systemic dysfunction – towards sustainability by default. Keynote held at the BAICE Symposium on Sustainability, Peace and Education – Exploring Promise and Practice, May 3rd, Bristol, UK

Wals, AEJ (2018) Hoe slim is je smartphone? Duurzaamheid als katalysator van onderwijs, Keynote NVON Jaarcongres, Utrecht 18 april, 2018.

Wals, AEJ (2018) The SDGs and the role of learning for transformation. Keynote held at the conference on “Life Science Universities and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)” held at BOKU in Vienna, Austria, 16 – 18 April 2018.


Wals, A.E.J. (2017) Are we educated to destroy the Earth: ‘University Education for Sustainability’ held at the Purpose of the Future University conference held at Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark, November 7-8, 2017.

Wals, A.E.J. (2017) De duurzame school als kloppend hart van de buurt. Inleiding AKSO Studiedag gehouden in de Meerpaal te Amsterdam op 30 maart.

Wals, A.E.J. (2017) Transdisciplinary Sustainability Research. Keynote Autour des Sciences Ecocitoyennes Territorialisées. Journées d’échanges entre praticiens et chercheurs, 16 – 18 mai 2017 Arlon, Belgique.

Wals, A.E.J. (2017) Disrupting the normalisation of unsustainability:rethinking education and research in times of global systemic dysfunction. Keynote Tagung „Bildung und Erziehung im Kontext globaler Transformation“ der beiden DGfE-Kommissionen Bildung für nachhaltige Entwicklung (BNE) und Vergleichende und internationale Erziehungswissenschaft (VIE), Bayreth, Germany, 23-03-2017.

Wals, A.E.J. (2017) Transgressive education and research in pursuit of sustainability and change. INTRO DE REFORMA RURAL INTEGRAL: RETOS PARA LA CONSTRUCCIÓN DE PAZ, Universidad National de Colombia, Bogota, Colombia, 13-02-2016

Wals, A.E.J. (2017) Citizen science als tool voor milieu- en wetenschapseducatie en meer publieksengagement. Keynote gehouden op de Inspiratiedag Natuur-Klimaat-Milieu-Educatie op 16 november, 2017 te Hasselt bij Provinciaal Natuurcentrum Limburg.

Wals, A.E.J. (2017) Learning against the grain: transgressive learning for sustainability in the Anthropocene. Keynote held at the Adult Learning Conference on ESD-Future Milestones & Strategies, Copenhagen, October 12th, 2017.

Wals, A.E.J. (2017) Scholen die duurzaamheid ademen: de ‘whole school approach’
Keynote Conferentie Duurzame PABO, gehouden bij de Hoge School Windesheim te Zwolle 2017 op 8 februari.

Wals, A.E.J. (2017) Emancipatory EE and T-Learning in Times of Uncertainty and Urgent Sustainability Challenges. Keynote held at the Chinese Association for Environmental Education Conference held in Taichung, Taiwan on September 16th.

Wals, A.E.J. (2017) Social learning against climate change Keynote held at the International Conference on Environmental Education held in Taipei Region, Taiwan held on September 14th.

Wals, A.E.J. (2017) No Jobs on a Dead Planet: Are We Educated to Destroy the Earth? Input talk ‘Forum University Education for Sustainability’ held at Gothenburg University on November 14th.

Wals, A.E.J. (2017) Onderwijzen voor een duurzamere wereld. Lezing gehouden tijdens de opening academisch jaar van Marnix Academie, Domkerk te Utrecht, 28 augustus, 2017

Wals, A.E.J. (2017) ’Van buiten wordt je binnen beter’: tuinieren als basis voor  duurzame ontwikkeling. Inleiding gehouden op de Duurzaamheidsmiddag Schooltuinen Amsterdam op 24 juni.

Wals, A.E.J. (2017) Higher Education for Sustainable Development: A Call for Transgression & Transformation. Keynote held EU-WISE Seminar  “Implementing ESD in Higher Education” Held at SLU, Uppsala, Sweden, December 11th.

Wals, A.E.J. (2017) The Transformative Power of Education:Rethinking ‘education-as-usual’ in times of unsustainability. Keynote held at the World Heritage Museum, Gothenburg, 6th of October.

Wals, A.E.J. (2017) Using the SDGs as a catalyst for re-designing higher education in the Anthropocene. Video-link keynote held at the ICA-Edu Colloquium, Zagreb June 13th.



Wals, A.E.J. (2015) “Beyond unreasonable doubt – education and learning for sustainability in the anthropocene”. Inaugural address held upon accepting the position of Personal Professor in Transformative Learning for Socio-Ecological Sustainability, Wageningen, December 17, 2015.


Wals, A.E.J (2015) From cosmetic reform towards a whole system transformation: transgressive education for responsible living. Keynote held March 11, at the PERL final conference held at UNESCO, Paris.


Wals, A.E.J (2015) Learning in communities in times of accelerating change and persistent unsustainability. Keynote held at the Learning in Communities Symposium held March 13, 2015 at Wageningen University.


Wals, A.E.J (2015) Teaching and learning against the grain while going with the flow: educational innovations for the great transition, talk held at the “Pathways to the Future: Education for Sustainable Development” Conference, Tallinn, Estonia, April 22-24, 2015.


Wals, A.E.J (2015) Civic Science, phronesis and the co-creation of sustainability: towards future proof education and learning, Public Lecture held at the University of Klagenfurt, Klagenfurt, Austria, March 20, 2015.


Wals, A.E.J (2015) Developing Sustainability Competence and 21th Century Capacities through Transformative Agricultural Education, Keynote held at the Conference on Higher Agricultural Education in the 21th Century, Zaragoza, Spain, June 13-15th 2015


Wals, A.E.J (2015) Towards Sustainability: Hybrid Learning in Vital Coalitions, Keynote held at the # Environmental governance in an increasingly complex world symposium held at the Stockholm Environment Centre, Stockholm, Sweden, May 20-21th, 2015.


Wals, A.E.J (2015) Teaching and learning against the grain while going with the flow: educational innovations for the great transition, talk held at the Informal University of the Cauca, Sylvia, May 2nd, Colombia.

Wals, A.E.J (2015) El rol de la educación en el desarrollo: Tendencias mundiales en la educación para la sustentabilidad, Keynote held at the Education for Sustainable Dvelopment Seminar at Cali University, Cali, Colombia, May 5th, 2015.

Wals, A.E.J (2015) Teaching and learning against the grain while going with the flow: educational innovations for the great transition, talk held at the Cali Zoo, Cali, May 5th , Colombia.


Wals, A.E.J (2015) Re-imagining Nature Education in Times of Globalization, Rapid Change and Unsustainability. Keynote held at the China Nature Eduation Forum, Hangzhou, China, 13-15 November, 2015


Wals, A.E.J (2015) Transformative Learning for a More Sustainable World. Keynote held at International conference „Bridging Education and Science for Sustainable Development” December 2-3, 2015, Daugavpils, Riga.


Wals, A.E.J. (2015) Duurzaamheid als katalysator van onderwijsvernieuwing. Inleiding gehouden op de Trenddag Vlaamse Lerarenopleidingen, Gent, 14 december 2015


Wals, A.E.J. “No jobs on a dead Planet” – Rethinking the role of higher education in times of Systemic Global Dysfunction, Keynote held at Högskolan Dalarna, Campus Falun, Sweden, October 20, 2015.


Wals, A.E.J (2015) Beyond (un)reasonable doubt – education in times of uncertainty and systemic global dysfunction. Keynote held at the Australian International Education Conference (AIEC) conference held in Adelaide, Australia, 18-22 of October, 2015.


Wals, A.E.J (2015) Beyond adaptation: the role of multi-stakeholder social learning in creating a more sustainable world. Keynote held at the “Hav och samhälle” (Sea & Society) Conference in Marstrand, Sweden on November 22, 2015.


Wals, A.E.J (2015) “Beyond adaptation: transgressive learning for disrupting resilient unsustainability” Introduction held at the ESD-Seminar of the Gothenburg Environmental Centre (GMV) on November 25th.2015

Wals, A.E.J (2015) The role of education and learning in creating healthier and more sustainable diets – habits, behaviors, lifestyles, chains, systems, … Keynote held at the City of Gothenburg Symposium on Sustainable Food and Education, Gothenburg, Sweden, November 26, 2015.


Wals, A.E.J (2015) Sustainability as a catalyst for educational innovation and a driver of a more sustainable world Harare, Keynote prestented at the 2015 Education Conference & Expo – “Growing Socio-Economic Opportunities Through Quality Education in the 21st Century”, held in Harare, Zimbabwe, September 16-18, 2015.


Wals, A.E.J (2015) More than the sum of its parts – creating ecologies of learning to respond to sustainability challenges. Keynote held at the Finish National Environmental Education Days held in Helsinki, December 5-7, 2015.


Wals, A.E.J (2015)Holistic Approaches to Sustainability in Higher Education, Paper presented at ECER 2015 “Education and Transition. Contributions from Educational Research”, conference held at Corvinus, University of Budapest from 7 to 11 September 2015.

2014 (incomplete)


Earth is calling! Anyone answering?

– keynote held by video message at the European Environmental Education Days in Bergamo (September 24th-26th, 2014)

Using the release of the iPhone6 I attempt to sketch the complexity of our current sustainability challenges amd the role of teaching, learning and capacity-building in meeting this challenge. The talk also serves to invite people to attend the 8th World Environmental Education Congress (WEEC) which will be held in the city of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Here is a link to the talk!


Shaping the Education for Tomorrow: Lessons learnt from 10 years of ESD

Key note held at The 6th Beijing International Forum on Education for Sustainable Development, Beijing China, 22nd–24th, October 2013

This was my first visit to China. I was honored to be a keynote speaker at a major event organized by the Beijing Academy of Educational Sciences, the City of Beijing, the Chinese UNESCO Commission and supported by the Chinese Ministry of Education. As the first non-Chinese speaker during the opening session, supported by music and dance, I followed a line of notable speakers like Niu Chunshan, Deputy Mayor, People’s Government of Beijing Municipality, Xian Lianping, Director, Beijing Municipal Commission of Education, Liu Limin, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China and Abhimanyu Singh, Director, UNESCO Beijing office.

In my presentation I drew mostly from the second review (Wals, 2012) of the UN Decade for ESD that has been conducted as a part of its Global Monitoring and Evaluation Framework. Clearly there is world-wide recognition, also in China, that sustainability challenges cannot be solved only through technological advances, legislative measures and new policy frameworks. Such responses are necessary but will need to be accompanied by changes in mind-sets, values and lifestyles, as well as a strengthening of people’s capacities to bring about change. This recognition explains the key role many governments, NGO’s, UN Agencies, and, indeed, companies, are giving to learning and capacity building in the search for solutions to interrelated sustainability challenges such as: climate change, global food security, disaster risk management, biodiversity loss, sustainable production and consumption, and so on.

I concluded my talk by suggesting that in order to remain relevant in the years to come, ESD will need to position and develop itself as an education that can help citizens deal with complexity, controversy and uncertainty, while at the same time empowering them and equipping them with the capacities to transform themselves and others with the well-being of the Planet in mind. In this role ESD is not in competition with well-established educations like environmental education or with emerging ones like climate change education, but rather a supplier of methods, tools and learning processes that can strengthen all of them while recognizing that ESD itself can benefit from the lessons learnt in those other educations as well.

During the Forum we heard many contributions from China and Hong Kong that made it clear that the earlier referred to review I wrote for UNESCO, which has been translated into Chinese, has become one of the drivers of educational reform China which took me by surprise. ESD in China appears to be seen as a catalyst for educational renewal. This became particularly clear when we visited Beijing Secondary School number 55 where we attended several classes. We seemed to be attending, in my view – and admittedly that is with a ‘typical’ Western, or should I say Dutch, classroom as a reference – rather conventional ways of teaching and learning: teacher introduces subject, students present their own research results in front of the class using powerpoint and the digiboard, teacher asks questions, students get to discuss in small groups, teacher wraps up the lesson, all in a very focused and structured manner. My colleague from the UK and I were wondering “where is the ESD?” in all this? But then it was explained to us that in the past there were little or no student presentations, own questions, student choices about what topic to investigate, small group conversations, etc. Introducing these elements for our Chinese colleagues was the core of ESD and indeed, perhaps it is. At the same time issues of air and water pollution and food safety issues are part of the curriculum as well but for now the ‘E’ in SD seems to be more important than the ‘SD’ in ESD.

Wals, A.E.J. (2012) Shaping the Education of Tomorrow: 2012 Full-length Report on the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development – DESD Monitoring & Evaluation Report, UNESCO, Paris. This report can be downloaded at:

Please have a look at where you will find information about a conference on Creativity and Pedagogy held in Cartagena, Colombia recently. I was asked to speak there about “Globalization, sense of place and transformative learning in times of unsustainability”. In this talk I link the three themes of this conference (post-colonial pedagogies, sustainability and inter-relatedness) by discussing and, indeed, critiquing, education in the context of sustainable development (ESD) from a perspective of critical thinking and transformative learning. I argued that our quest for a more sustainable world requires a sense of place and identity as well as decolonizing pedagogies and socially responsible knowledge co-creation. The search for sustainability cannot be limited to classrooms, the corporate boardroom, a local environmental education center, a regional government authority, etc. Instead, learning in the context of sustainability requires ‘hybridity’ and synergy between multiple actors in society and the blurring of formal, non-formal and informal education. A good example of such hybridity can be found in the so-called ‘whole school approaches to sustainability’ where schools establish linkages between questions around food, energy and health and the curriculum (both espoused and hidden and the community of which it is part). Opportunities for this type of learning expand with an increased permeability between units, disciplines, generations, cultures, institutions, sectors and so on. At the same time we must beware of the use of sustainability and sustainability education in a-critical ways that, albeit intentionally or unintentionally, lead to a consolidation of current hegemonic (economic) systems and educational practices thereby amplifying unsustainability. More information about this well-attended conference can also be found on this facebook page:

In September I gave a keynote address at the annual congress of the Environmental Education Association of Southern Africa (EEASA) in Lilongwe, Malawi on “Environmental Education and the Green Economy – opportunities and pitfalls”.

As part of the fourth annual Uppsala Conference on the Future of Sustainability and Education, I gave a keynote presentation on Transformative Learning in May of 2013.
The entire talk can be found here: A warning is in place as I realized watching it back later I talked way too long. I do not recommend watching this in one go…
For more information, visit

Also in May – in combination with a contribution at the student organized event (CEMUS) in Uppsala (see above) I was asked to give a key note at Malmo University in the South of Sweden on “Why sustainability cannot and should not be taught: a call for transformative learning in times of globalization and rapid change” More information about this event can be found here (in Swedish I’m afraid):

In april gaf ik een bijdrage aan de landelijke dag van de Heimans & Thijsse Stichting samen met o.a. Princes Irene en Tracy Metz. Een kort verslag is hier te vinden:

In March I had the honor to give a key note on “Education and Capacity Building for Sustainability” at the United Nations Office for Sustainable Development in Korea at the Expert Consultation on Knowledge and Capacity Needs for Sustainable Development in Post-Rio+20 Era. More information on the event can be found here:

Fifty Shades of Green – Why the green economy cannot be ‘business-as-usual’ and why ESD cannot be ‘education-as-usual’. Conference The Social Pillar of Sustainability’, December 20th, 2012, School of Sustainability IDC, Herzliya, Israel.

Why Sustainability cannot and should not be taught: a call for deep learning in turbulent times. University of Gothenburg’s annual “Global Week” on November 15th, 2012, Gothenburg, Sweden.

Social learning towards sustainability in times of accelerating global change – Challenges after Rio +20 – Keynote held at the Baltic University Network meeting on ESD held in Kazimierz Dolny, Poland on November 8th, 2012

Education for Sustainable Development – learning-based change towards a better world – workshop provided at GRZ ESD Leadership Forum, Berlin, October 16th, 2012

Learning and knowing in transboundary efforts towards sustainability. Keynote held at the annual conference of the Swedish Research School on ESD in Umea, on October 10th, 2012

What training do we need for greening the economy? Keynote held at “Opportunities and chances for green economy in Estonia” held in Tallinn on October 3rd, 2012

Why the green economy cannot be ‘business as usual’ and why ESD cannot be ‘education as usual’. Conference day on “Education for Sustainable Development” (ESD) organized by the Swiss Sustainable Development Forum on October 3rd, 2012, Geneva, Switserland. Note: this was a video-taped pre-recorded talk which is available via WURTV (click on the image below to see the talk).


ESD just another subject added to an over-crowded curriculum or a catalyst for educational renewal and societal transition towards sustainability? Summer School “Educating for sustainability” of the Network of Educational Policy Centers (NEPC), Primošten, Croatia, 1-7 July 2012.

Leading Change for Sustainability –Key note at the Higher Education Leadership Academy (AKEPT), July 4th, 2012, Bandar Enstek, Malaysia.

Launch of “Educating for a sustainable future” – Rio +20 Side Event Chaired by Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, organized on June 21th, 2012, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Full report can be found here: Learning for Tomorrow – Full UNESCO DESD Report.

“Science as community: Sustainability- oriented trans-disciplinary research”In May of 2012 I contributed to the 5th Living Knowledge Conference which was held in Bonn, Germany with a talk on “Science as community: Sustainability- oriented trans-disciplinary research”. The entire talk has now been uploaded on youtube as have been several of the other talks held at this energizing event. The talk can be found here. Since the slides I used are not always (clearly) visible you can find the slides I used here: WalsBonnLivingKnowledge.

“Universities and Environmental Sustainability”
Keynote held at the University of Oslo at UNICA Green Academic Footprint – Universities Committed and Connected towards Environmental Sustainability on 3rd and 4th of May 2011. Podcast to be heard at:

Interview with SWEDESD (Swedish Decade of Education for Sustainable Development on SWEDESD TV –  (October 2010) on the meaning of social learning in the context of sustainability.

“The prius-effect in ESD – Accelerating sustainability through hybrid learning, some examples from The Netherlands”
Leuphana University, Germany, Sustainability Lecture Series, January 20th, 2011. A snap-shot of a much longer lecture that starts with the phenomenon of “green washing”

Interview with the European Training Foundation on the role of Education for Sustainability in Technical and Vocational Education and Training and in Entrepreneurial Learning (September 2011) held in Torino, Italy in August of 2011.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s