Educator Competences in Sustainability Education: A Systematic Review of Frameworks
“(…)Ameliorating issues of sustainability involves addressing ethical questions, for instance, regarding the injustice in sharing the use of the world’s resources (…) looking at issues of development, justice peace and conflict, human rights and dignity, and intrinsic value of other special, and indeed, whole ecosystems.”  (p. 223)
- In which contexts or backgrounds have the analyzed frameworks and models been developed?
- What are the conceptual and pedagogical approaches towards sustainability and competences used to develop these frameworks and models?
- Which are the different types of educators’ competences included in the frameworks and models, and particularly those addressed to promote transformational perspectives?
- Which are the pedagogical strategies applied to develop educators’ competences and particularly those addressed to promote transformational practices in Sustainability Education?
2. Materials and Methods
2.1. Data Collection
- The article focuses on education for sustainable development and/or Sustainability Education;
- The framework is addressed to educators;
- A framework is used and/or assessed through a training course or another intervention that is analyzed.
2.2. Data Analysis
3.1. General Background of the Reviewed Documents
3.2. Conceptual and Pedagogical Approaches behind the Concepts of Sustainability and Competences
“(…) while EE is focusing in preservation of the natural environment and the reduction of human impact, ESD teach awareness, skills, perspectives and values that will guide and motivate people to pursue sustainable livelihood, participate in a democratic society, and live in a sustainable manner (McKeown and Hopkins, 2003)” (D3)  (p. 744).
3.3. Typology of Sustainability Competences Identified from the Frameworks
3.4. Pedagogical Strategies Applied to Develop Educators’ Competences in Sustainability Education.
“it is not about training children to adopt a behavior which has been recognized as correct, but about supporting them in taking decisions based on their own judgment”. (D9)  (p. 19)
“(…) future teachers highlighted the importance of using motivational methodologies based on globalized approaches which favor interaction and participation, and where students go from being spectators to becoming actors” (D14)  (p. 316).
Conflicts of Interest
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|Num. Doc.||Year||Authors, Title.|
|D1||2019||Vare P., Arro G., de Hamer A., Gobbo G.D., de Vries G., Farioli F., Kadji-Beltran C., Kangur M., Mayer M., Millican R., Nijdam C., Réti M., Zachariou A.|
“Devising a competence-based training program for educators of sustainable development: Lessons learned” .
|D2||2017||Garcia M.R., Junyent M., Fonolleda M.|
“How to assess professional competencies in Education for Sustainability?: An approach from a perspective of complexity” .
|D3||2017||Meyer J., Mader M., Zimmermann F., Çabiri K.|
“Training sessions fostering transdisciplinary collaboration for sustainable development: Albania and Kosovo case studies” .
|D4||2016||Winter J., Cotton D., Warwick P.|
The University as a Site of Socialization for Sustainability Education .
|D5||2019||Albareda-Tiana S., García-González E., Jiménez-Fontana R., Solís-Espallargas C.|
“Implementing pedagogical approaches for ESD in initial teacher training at Spanish universities” .
|D6||2018||Carracedo F.S., Segalàs J., Vidal E., Martin C., Climent J., López D., Cabré J.|
“Improving engineering educators’ sustainability competencies by using competency maps. The EDINSOST project” .
|D7||2017||De Kraker J., Dlouhá J., Machackova Henderson L., Kapitulcinová D.|
“The European virtual seminar on sustainable development as an opportunity for staff ESD competence development within university curricula” .
|D8||2015||Cebrián G., Junyent M.|
“Competencies in education for sustainable development: Exploring the student teachers’ views” .
|D9||2013||Rauch F., Steiner R.|
“Competences for Education for Sustainable Development in Teacher Education” .
|D10||2018||Albareda-Tiana S., Vidal-Raméntol S., Pujol-Valls M., Fernández-Morilla M.|
“Holistic approaches to develop sustainability and research competencies in pre-service teacher training” .
|D11||2019||Álvarez-García O., García-Escudero L.Á., Salvà-Mut F., Calvo-Sastre A.|
“Variables influencing pre-service teacher training in education for sustainable development: A case study of two Spanish universities” .
|D12||2014||Pipere A., Mičule I.|
“Mathematical identity for a sustainable future: An interpretative phenomenological analysis” .
|D13||2013||Bertschy F., Künzli C., Lehmann M.|
“Teachers’ competencies for the implementation of educational offers in the field of education for sustainable development” .
|D14||2018||Varela-Losada M., Arias-Correa A., Vega-Marcote P.|
“Training teachers committed to climate change mitigation” .
|General background||Contextual or background characteristics of the reviewed studies, including country, level of education, participant’s description and research objectives|
|Conceptual and pedagogical approaches to sustainability and competences||Adopted perspectives towards the concepts of sustainability and competences within the framework or model, including if these are conceived as transformational or not|
|Typology of sustainability competences||Identified types of competences included in the framework or model|
|Pedagogical strategies applied to develop educators’ competences in sustainability||Pedagogical methods and activities developed when implementing and/or testing the framework or model on educators’ competences in sustainability|
|UNECE Pillar Group||Definition||Bridging Group||Definition|
|Learning to Know (LtK)||“A way of thinking (The educator understands…) Conceptual, factual and action-related knowledge. Need for assimilation of the interconnectivity between the individual, society and nature both locally and globally” [18,19]||Know/Be(K/B)||Hybrid competences representing a transition between Learning to Know (LtK) and Learning to Be (LtB)|
|Learning to Be (LtB)||“A way of feeling (The educator is a person for whom…) Thinking, reflecting, weighing and taking decisions and acting are in dissociable from emotions. Emotional competency and the development of personal attributes and abilities to act independently and responsibly are indispensable for SD” [18,19]||Be/Do (B/D)||Hybrid competences representing a transition between Learning to Be (LtB) and Learning to Do (LtD)|
|Learning to Do (LtD)||“A way of acting (The educator is capable of …) Developing practical skills and acting in relation to ESD It is the process in which all the other competencies from the other domains combine in meaningful creations, participation and cooperation The individual accepts freedom as responsibility, coexistence as a model for moving towards democracy and action as a vehicle for social, environmental and economic transformation” [18,19]|
|Frameworks or Models Used for Guidance or Direct Implementation||Reviewed Study, Specific Project Name, Territory and Research Focus|
|UNECE-ESD Educators’ Competences Framework ||D1. EU Project A Rounder Sense of Purpose (RSP).
|Competencies for ESD Teachers (CSCT) ||D2. Spanish project Education for sustainability from the perspective of Complexity (CESC).
|Key Competences in Sustainability by Wiek ||D3. Albania and Kosovo project Connecting Science-Society collaboration for sustainability Innovation (ConSus).
|EDINSOST ||D5. Spanish project Education and Social Innovation for Sustainability (EDINSOST).
|ESD-Specific Professional Action Competency of Teachers in Kindergarten and Primary School ||D13. Switzerland project Learning to help shape the future (ZMiLe -Zukunft mitgestalten lernen-, 2013).
|Standards for the Initial Preparation of Environmental Educators |
Guidelines for the Preparation and Professional Development of Environmental Educators 
The Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines for Learning K-12 
|D11. Not a research project reported-Spain.
|Competence Name||Competence Group||Broader Definition Chosen||Study/ies and Original Competence Name|
|Intellectual Development||LtK||Putting emphasis on the intellectual development of students (D8)  (p. 2775).||D8-Transversal competencies 1|
|Scientific Thinking||LtK||Explaining and interpreting phenomena scientifically and identifying appropriate explanations and predictions (D8)  (p. 2775)||D4 2|
D8-Science education competencies 1
D10-Research Comperency 1
|Critical Thinking||LtK||Critical contextualization of knowledge establishing interrelationships between social, economic and environmental, local and/or global problems (D9)  (p. 19)||D1-Criticality 1|
|Connections||K/B||To know the main concepts and principles in connection with the Earth as a biophysical system and in connection with the relationships and interactions between society and the environment (D11)  (p.4)||D1-Systems 1|
D14-Systems Thinking 1
|Futures||LtB||It offers ways of addressing and helping to shape the future […]. It enables individuals to recognize relations and possible evolutions between past, present, and future and envision possible or thinkable futures alternatives and their impact (D1)  (p. 10).||D1 3|
D8-Future/alternative scenarios visioning 1
|Attentiveness||LtB||This competence relates to knowledge about sustainability issues while emphasizing the difference between information and understanding. Our pre-existing knowledge determines how we see the world and what we notice in our environment […] The goal of an educator is to help learners to process new knowledge explicitly and not to simply be exposed to information about the world (D1)  (p. 11).||D1 3|
|Holistic Dimension of Sustainability||LtB||It takes into account the historical perspective of sustainability, analyzes different dimensions, promotes creativity and innovation, reflects on new ways (D6)  (p. 8)||D3-Holistic approach 1|
|Transdisciplinary||LtB||Working towards sustainability calls for the ability to collaborate with a diverse group of people. Educators are challenged to promote this competence among their learners and model it by, for example, facilitating school-community collaborations […] (D1)  (p. 11)||D1 3|
D8-Transversal competencies 1
|Uncertainty||LtB||The educator works with others from a perspective of uncertainty as an ethical, social and political attitudes to seek social construction and with an open view of the future (D2)  (p. 777).||D2 3|
|Emotions Management||LtB||To manage emotions and concerns: promoting reflection on one’s own emotions as a means to reach a deeper understanding of problems and situations (D8)  (p. 2771).||D1-Empathy 1|
D8-Manage emotions and concerns 1
|Learner centered||LtB||To provide student-centered education to promote the development of critical thinking, active citizenship and participation (D14)  (p. 313)||D7 2|
|Belong to nature||LtB||Fostering in students a sense of belonging to the environment (D8)  (p. 2775).||D8-ESD competencies 1|
|Envisioning change||B/D||Meaning the time perspective for change toward sustainable development (…) understanding the reasons for unsustainable development, its actual development and also its future prospective. It also refers to motivation for learning out of those experiences and raising awareness for the need of developing shared visions among the different perspectives of scientific and societal stakeholders (D3)  (p. 749).||D3 3|
|Learning to live together||B/D||A way of coexisting. The educator works with others in such a way that (…) norms, values, attitudes, beliefs and assumptions guide our perceptions, our thinking and our decisions and actions. Cooperation, interdependence, pluralism, understanding, equality, freedom, uncertainty as an ethical attitude all foster the move towards ESD (D2)  (p. 777).||D2 3|
D5-Sust 3 1
D10-SC 3 1
D11-EC 3 1
|Dialogue||B/D||That which facilitates acceptance and approaches multiple ways of understanding the world and promotes the exchange of ideas, cooperation, negotiation and understanding (D2)  (p. 776).||D2 3|
D8-Establish a dialogue between disciplines 1
|Networking||B/D||As one requisite competence, ESD teachers must be able to organize and moderate cooperation with non-formal educational institutions, in order to arrange for learning opportunities for pupils in and with extramural institutions (D9)  (p. 21).||D9 2|
|Communicating||B/D||Ability without which all other areas are inconceivable. While communication is a sine qua non for planning, organizing and networking, it is not a matter of course for the more individual areas (D9)  (p. 20).||D9 3|
D10-Research Comperency 1
|Achieving Transformation||LtD||Related to transformation approaches in education, pedagogy and for educators and education systems in all the levels (Lk, Llt, Lb, Ld) (D3)  (p. 740).||D1-Action 1|
|Healthy Lifestyles||LtD||Developing habits and attitudes favorable to the promotion of healthy lifestyles, at the personal and community level (D8)  (p. 2775).||D8-Transversal competencies 1|
|Economic Dimension||LtD||[The teacher] is capable of successfully carrying out the economic management (amortizations, fixed costs, variable costs, planning budgets, detect deviation, make a business plan) of a project (D6)  (p. 10).||D6 3|
|Creativity||LtD||That which generates imaginative processes that involve a specific result, be that an action, idea or object. Enables the creation of spaces for shared learning and promotes the visualization of sustainability scenarios (D2)  (p. 776).||D2 3|
D10-Competency Unit 1.2 1
|Innovation||LtD||Educators will need to reflect on their practice and renew their methods as they adapt to new situations while understanding that “new” is not necessarily better (D1)  (p. 11).||D1 3|
D8-Establish a dialogue between disciplines 1
|Responsibility||LtD||[…] the educator of ESD will have a range of tools, through which to develop their learners’ abilities to act responsibly. In this way, they will encourage long-term thinking about what kind of human beings we want to be and what kind of world we want to live in (D1)  (p. 11).||D1 3|
D8-Transversal competencies 1
|Social Dimension||LtD||[The teacher] takes into account the social impact (social justice, equity, diversity, transparency, gender perspective, needs of the most vulnerable groups, strategies against corruption) of his/her work (D6)  (p. 10).||D6 3|
|Participation in Community||LtD||Participation in community processes that promote sustainability (D6)  (p. 6)||D1-Participation 1|
D5-Sust 3 1
D8-Science education competencies 1
D10-Sust 3 1
D14-Interpersonal competence 1
|Environmental Dimension||LtD||Takes into account the environmental impact (reuse, reduction, recycling, minimization of the natural resources and residues, the concept of ecological footprint) of his/her work (D6)  (p. 10).||D6 3|
|Applying Sustainability Values||LtD||To apply ethical principles related to sustainability values in personal and professional behavior (D10)  (p.2).||D6-C4 1|
D10-Sust 4 1
D11-EC3 and EC5 1
D13-ESD competence aspect motivation and volition 1
D14-Normative competence 1
|Sustainable Use of Resources||LtD||Sustainable use of resources and prevention of negative impacts on the natural and social environment (D6)  (p. 6).||D6-C2 1|
D10-Sust 2 1
|Design Educational Activities||LtD||Ability to choose possible teaching topics and to evaluate their aptitudes for ESD regarding their economic, ecological, social and cultural design as well as their relevance for sustainability (pedagogical content knowledge) (D13)  (p. 5076).||D10 2|
D13-ESD competence aspect knowledge and ability 1
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Corres, A.; Rieckmann, M.; Espasa, A.; Ruiz-Mallén, I. Educator Competences in Sustainability Education: A Systematic Review of Frameworks. Sustainability 2020, 12, 9858. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12239858
Corres A, Rieckmann M, Espasa A, Ruiz-Mallén I. Educator Competences in Sustainability Education: A Systematic Review of Frameworks. Sustainability. 2020; 12(23):9858. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12239858Chicago/Turabian Style
Corres, Andrea, Marco Rieckmann, Anna Espasa, and Isabel Ruiz-Mallén. 2020. "Educator Competences in Sustainability Education: A Systematic Review of Frameworks" Sustainability 12, no. 23: 9858. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12239858