General information

The BNE-Kompetenzzentrum Bildung – Nachhaltigkeit – Kommune (ESD Competence Centre Education – Sustainability – Municipality) works to promote Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) for and with municipalities across Germany.

The United Nations have defined 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In 2020, the UNESCO launched the “Decade of Education for Sustainable Development: Towards Achieving the SDGs (ESD for 2030)” in order to highlight the crucial role of education, and education for sustainable development in particular, in achieving all 17 SDGs by 2030.

Germany’s National Action Plan on Education for Sustainable Development (NAP BNE) contains proposals and recommendations for integrating ESD into the German education system. According to the National Action Plan, municipalities and their educational landscapes are key to disseminating and promoting ESD. By funding schools, colleges and independent learning providers, they have the impact to promote and shape the ways in which ESD is integrated into formal, non-formal and informal educational settings.

This is where the ESD Competence Centre Education – Sustainability – Municipality comes in. The joint project, funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research, supports around 50 municipalities in systematically developing and implementing ESD at a local level. Its aim is to link ESD approaches and initiatives with a data-based local education management approach and to optimize local processes based on empirical research.


Building on practical and scientific expertise, the ESD Competence Centre serves as a hub for ESD in municipal educational landscapes by bringing together scientific insight and practical experience and making both accessible in a targeted manner. We provide professional and methodological expertise through on-site process facilitation, organize networking and peer-learning events and train staff working in local educational landscapes. In addition, we perform science-based evaluations of these processes, drawing on the results to continuously improve the support we provide.

Drawing on the experience of the programs “Lernende Regionen” (Learning Regions), “Lernen vor Ort” (Learning Locally) and the “Transferinitiative für kommunales Bildungsmanagement” (Transfer Initiative for Municipal Education Management), which have all been funded by the Ministry of Education and Research, we support municipalities in emulating and improving existing ESD approaches in collaboration with various local ESD initiatives.

In other words, Education for Sustainable Development is a powerful lever for social change. In order to match words with actions and to ensure their activities are effective, municipalities need to build attractive ESD initiatives, structures and processes. It is crucial that municipalities integrate ESD strategically and manage it purposefully in their respective educational landscapes.

The ESD Competence Centre is a joint project of the German Youth Institute (DJI), the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, and the Transferagentur Kommunales Bildungsmanagement Niedersachsen. It is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.