“Human Rights Education” with Dr. Felisa Tibbits

On December 17, the Working Group enjoyed seminar by Dr. Felisa Tibbitts, an expert in human education at Utrecht and Columbia University and a member of the UNESCO Chair in Human Rights and Higher Education.

Lead author of the UNESCO document Education for the SDGs, Prof. Marco Rieckmann, talks with WG members.

On Friday 19 November, the Working Group was joined by Prof. Marco Rieckmann, lead author of the document “Education for the SDGs: Learning Objectives” (UNESCO, 2017). This session had a webinar format, i.e. it was open: the WG members had the possibility to have the camera open and talk to Dr. Rieckmann, but there were also people outside the WG interested in the topic who could intervene as participants through the chat. 

In his presentation, the speaker presented the theoretical framework of the 8 UNESCO Competences, and how they are interrelated, within the context of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). He also questioned how we can empower students to make “radical changes” from the classroom within the framework of sustainability, exploring the transformative meaning of ESD and its link to social change. In this sense, he advocated a facilitative and action- and reflection-oriented didactics, with methodologies that promote maximum student participation: approaches such as PBL that make it possible to generate contexts, projects and practical and participatory experiences. In ESD, the role of educators is to encourage each student to make decisions based on knowledge of the problems of the environment, rather than to promote absolute certainties.

Finally, regarding the assessment of student competencies, one of the questions of the WG was whether rubrics or other assessment tools exist, and whether the option of constructing a rubric that assesses all 8 competences made sense. Dr. Rieckmann commented on existing experiences in the assessment of specific competences, which show great complexity. The speaker recommended the resource by Redman et al (2021), which includes common tools in the assessment of student competences and proposes the option of generating a rubric in accordance with the different phases of a PBL project. Another interesting resource he mentioned were the competence maps, where the achievement of different transversal competences can be clearly shown through visualisation. This type of tool is motivating and allows comparing different moments in terms of student competence.

Watch the conversation with Prof. Marco Rieckmann:

The WG meets in an internal session to start developing UNESCO’s Competences for Sustainability

On Friday 12 November, the WG met in an internal session in order to share the approach with which we want to work on the Competencies for Sustainability, to establish the sub-groups of “specialists” who will work on the different competencies and to prepare questions for the expert Marco Rieckmann.

The session divided the participants into two groups, in order to work more extensively on the competences for sustainability. On the other hand, the questions and the focus of the session were prepared with Professor Marco Rieckmann, with the aim of helping us to understand and unpack UNESCO’s Key Competences for Sustainability, and particularly how to develop them through education for the Sustainable Development Goals, to guide us on how to work on them according to the different educational levels.

Dr. Gregorio Rodríguez, expert in educational evaluation, accompanies the WG in its third session, the first session of the workshop with international experts to be held by the participants. 

On Wednesday, October 28, the WG held the first session of the international workshop with Dr. Gregorio Rodríguez, Professor at the University of Cadiz and member of the UNESCO Chair on Evaluation and Assessment, Innovation and Excellence in Education, expert in educational evaluation. 

The session began with a look at the historical evolution of the conception of assessment and continued by emphasizing the difference between concepts such as “student” and “learner”. He also stressed the importance of students having to know what is expected of them and how they can achieve their goals. Rodríguez stressed the importance of making the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the key competencies for sustainability evident in assessment systems, linking them to the objectives and expected outcomes for any activity.

WG members contributed to the reflection on the importance of incorporating the key competencies for sustainability in the assessment of what we learn and why it is important, and also how to do it. In that sense, how to introduce the SDGs and especially the key competencies for sustainability in the educational plans of their centers was one of the questions that generated more debate. Finally, Rodríguez showed some good examples of rubrics and scales, as well as the evaluation model that he himself uses with his students. All in all, it was an interesting and relevant workshop, which motivated the WG in its purpose of designing useful tools for centers, teachers, and students to achieve the key competencies for sustainability through SDG-oriented learning projects. 

In the second session, the participants chose the instruments and tools to develop with the WG

On the 22d of October, the WG about the key competencies for sustainability of UNESCO had an online meeting for the second work session. 

The session was focused on getting the group’s participants to define which assessment tools they wanted to be a result of the group work, to ultimately benefit the development of the key competencies for sustainability in class. A self-diagnosis of the education center in relation to the key competencies for sustainability, the tools for the design of PBLxSDG, and support resources for the evaluation of the students, were the chosen instruments and tools of the participants to develop in the WG.

Moreover, the WG also prepared next session, scheduled for the 27th of October, which corresponds to the international experts’ workshop, with Dr. Gregorio Rodríguez, Chair of the Cadiz University and member of the UNESCO Chair on Evaluation and Assessment, Innovation and Excellence in Education, expert on education assessment.

The WG gets started with the participation of more than 20 teachers and experts

On 22 September, the Working Group on UNESCO Key Competencies for  Sustainability, promoted by the Pompeu Fabra University and Catesco, was launched with a first session to define the objectives and make initial contact between the participants.

Why this group

Humanity today faces profound challenges that are shared by all individuals and peoples around the world. In 2015, for the first time, the United Nations drew up a global agenda that challenges all the nations of the world, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This agenda specifies in 17 Sustainable Development Goals the targets that humanity and the planet must have reached by 2030 to face the challenge posed by global challenges such as climate change and the loss of biodiversity, the increase in poverty and social inequalities, or the rise of hate speech and xenophobia. This 2030 Agenda becomes the global commitment for everyone, from anywhere on the planet, to advance it locally (glocal). In this agenda, education is one of these goals, SDG4. And at the same time, education is a condition of possibility for the achievement of the other goals.

This working group is part of the Project Based Learning and Sustainable Development Goals (PBLxSDG) initiative of UPF and Catesco, which aims to promote the educational transformation of schools and institutes through the adoption of globalised work methodologies focused on the achievement of the SDGs.


This working group aims to concretise UNESCO’s Key Competencies for Sustainability into tangible and useful resources for teachers to promote their development and assessment in educational practice, by different educational stages, through PBL, as well as to connect the development of the competencies in relation to the learning objectives for each SDG and the curriculum.

To this end, the working group will be supported by international experts, including Dr. Marco Rieckmann (lead author of the document “Educating for the SDGs. Learning Objectives” of UNESCO) or Felisa Tibbits (a reference in education for global justice), through a workshop with five monographic sessions on aspects related to the definition of Competencies for Sustainability.

La sessió inicial

The launching session of the WG took place on 22 September online. The group of participants, which includes more than twenty teachers from primary schools, secondary schools and universities, was able to share their expectations and discuss the orientation and objectives of the WG. The group also includes participants from other spaces working for global justice, such as EduGlobal Stem, Edualter and the Sustainable Schools Network of Barcelona.

You will be able to find more information about the initiative on our social networks or on this website, where we will be updating the information.

Let’s get started!