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Education and Competences for Sustainable Development Essay


In their article, Mochizuki and Fadeeva (2010) sought to emphasize the importance of providing students with an education based on sustainable development (SD). The aim is to achieve high levels of education as well as societal changes associated with better sustainability and progress in research. While education has been widely accepted as an important contributor to SD, the researchers chose to focus on competencies as these usually represent students’ abilities, in contrast to generalized knowledge that offers no guarantee of success in completing different tasks. In the context of education for sustainable development (ESD), Mochizuki and Fadeeva (2010) used UNESCO’s descriptions of characteristics and competencies necessary to maintain global development and sustainability at high levels. For example, according to UNESCO’s characteristics, ESD is interdisciplinary; in other words, no single discipline can claim ESD as “its own but all disciplines can contribute to ESD” (UNESCO, 2005, p. 31). Therefore, the opportunities for strengthening ESD are endless.

At the conclusion of their exploration of ESD, Mochizuki, and Fadeeva (2010) identified four critical elements that would benefit the cultivation of new competencies. First, academic implementation strategies and top-down policies are necessary to ensure planning continuity and coherence in the field of education. Second, bottom-up strategies serve to complement good ESD practices in academic subjects such as STEM. Third, it is essential that professional and accredited bodies recognize ESD. Fourth, the existence of an “institutional, educational, and curriculum architect” will facilitate educational change in universities (Mochizuki & Fadeeva, 2010, p. 398). Furthermore, the framework may be successfully applied to a variety of educational contexts to facilitate the development of new skills.

Advantages: Positive Critique

The article focuses on Mochizuki and Fadeeva’s (2010) search of the existing literature to find the most appropriate practices for enhancing ESD. Notably, their approach did not focus on one country in particular but explored ESD in the wider context of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD). Within this context, the competence approach is especially relevant as it implies asking not what should be taught but what should be learned—addressing the specific skills and abilities necessary to facilitate the process of learning. Therefore, the focus on skill acquisition is the most positive aspect of Mochizuki and Fadeeva’s (2010) research because it is applicable to most settings and contexts.

Besides, the authors noted a few critiques regarding the competence approach in proposing a new ESD framework. For example, Mochizuki and Fadeeva (2010) mentioned that the competency framework could limit the personal development of learners based on capability. The authors also mentioned that the competence framework could be incorrectly interpreted. This means that in the development of a competency-based framework for ESD enhancement, the researchers had to be careful in terms of endeavoring to make the framework attractive despite any possible disadvantages. Thus, Mochizuki and Fadeeva (2010) argued that to develop an effective framework for ESD, it would be necessary to “foster alternative institutions, as much as we need an ethical, spiritual, cognitive and perceptual awakening to the interconnectedness, interdependence, diversity, and wholeness of everything” (p. 395).

The researchers’ approach to effective ESD is particularly captivating because they understood that tying education to sustainable development would be impossible without strengthening the connections between institutions and disciplines around the world to facilitate a range of competencies associated with better sustainability. The authors went on to discuss the example of the professional bachelor’s degree program for Poverty Reduction and Agricultural Management (PRAM) to illustrate how the development of competencies could take place by means of redefining skills and knowledge to develop sustainable competencies that benefit not only the sphere of education but also society as a whole.

In the end, it is important to note that Mochizuki and Fadeeva (2010) understood that sustainable development competencies are not universal. To a large degree, SDs are rooted in the European theorization of competence; thus, any attempts to create effective ESD frameworks tend to leave many developing countries behind. In their exploration of SD competencies, the researchers found that these manifested in multiple disciplines in different locations around the globe, and it was a matter of careful analysis and development to merge different experiences into one framework.

Disadvantages: Negative Critique

Looking at the article from the opposite perspective, one potential drawback is that Mochizuki and Fadeeva (2010) did not conclude their research by formulating a framework that could be applied in multiple disciplines simultaneously to achieve visible results. While they provided recommendations for making an effective ESD framework and identified some major limitations, the scholars did not formulate a step-by-step guide to shape how educational facilities worldwide could introduce ESD effectively and benefit from it. For example, the authors mentioned efforts that had been made to create a universally accepted and recognized system of appraisal, yet none of these resulted in a system that was accepted by dominant schemes of ranking and assessment. However, they provided no solutions to solving this issue, which makes the article appear somewhat biased. By acknowledging existing problems but failing to propose solutions, Mochizuki and Fadeeva (2010) did not provide an all-encompassing framework that can be applied universally.

Another disadvantage of the article is the lack of original ideas associated with competences for sustainable development. Mochizuki and Fadeeva (2010) focused on reviewing the relevant literature and reflecting on different perspectives without contributing anything further to the debate. In short, the article provided a broad look at diverse processes linked to competence-oriented approaches. Also, the authors pointed to the need for developing “more coherent critical multi-level analysis” without making any effort to offer such an analysis (Mochizuki & Fadeeva, 2010, p. 391). However, apart from providing an overview of already existing information and compiling it into an article, the researchers did not offer a unique perspective on ESD.

Importance of the Article

Despite these disadvantages, the article is significant overall in the future of society. Mochizuki and Fadeeva (2010) explored the need to develop unique and beneficial skills for improving society and the sphere of education instead of focusing on memorizing information on a short-term basis for the purpose of obtaining an education degree. Through exploring the example of PRAM, the researchers concluded that to reach sustainability, skills development at the student, community, and organizational levels can be promoted through opening opportunities for new ideas and exploring new ways of creating educational programs that focus on engagement and research rather than on mere acquisition of knowledge.

The article is particularly relevant in the context of modern business relations in general and the sphere of human resources in particular. Current business news publications have discussed the rising demand for a skilled workforce regardless of whether employees have formal education. For instance, in her Business Insider article, Julie Bort (2013) mentioned that the Gates Foundation was encouraging employers to consider skill-based hiring as a new strategy targeted at improving the quality of workers’ performance. The reporter proceeded to mention the fact that when companies choose university degrees over skills, they lose the opportunity to improve their operations. Also, skilled personnel is more likely to remain in their positions because they usually need less training (Bort, 2013). Therefore, Mochizuki and Fadeeva’s (2010) contribution is relevant to the current trends not only in education but also in the life that comes after graduation.

Lastly, the article is valuable to society as a whole because of its attention to encouraging innovation and diversity in the interest of sustainable development in an integrated world (Kaul, 2012). As boundaries within and between societies are diluted due to globalization and innovative developments in technology, spreading the message of diversity in education is an important perspective in broadening the capabilities of communities around the world.

Overall, the analysis of the article by Mochizuki and Fadeeva (2010) has contributed to the overall understanding of why the development of skills is more important in educational facilities than knowledge of specific subjects or disciplines. Skills are multidimensional and can be applied in a variety of contexts, especially given the fact that modern employers see much more benefit in hiring a skilled workforce than merely opting for people with formal education. The article provided an insight into the creation and development of educational sustainability in the realm of benefiting global society in general by enriching the knowledge and capabilities of its separate members.


Bort, J. (2013). Business Insider. Web.

Kaul, V. (2012). Globalization and crisis of cultural ideas. Journal of Research in International Business and Management, 2(13), 341-349.

Mochizuki, Y., & Fadeeva, Z. (2010) Competences for sustainable development and sustainability: Significance and challenges for ESD. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 11(4), 391-403.

UNESCO. (2005).Web.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Education and Competences for Sustainable Development'. 30 November.

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