Global Citizenship Education (GCED) was one of the nine strategic goals of UNESCO's education programme for the period 2014 to 2021.
UNESCO's work in this area is derived from the Education 2030 Framework for Action, and specifically from Goal 4.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This reads, "By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills necessary for sustainable development, including through education for sustainable development, sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship education and appreciation of cultural diversity, and the contribution of culture to sustainable development."
In this sense, Global Citizenship Education and Education for Sustainable Development are also understood as two complementary approaches which have many similarities, but also present differences. Both concepts emphasise the relevance of education to advance a more peaceful and sustainable world, as well as the need to impart knowledge, competence, values, and attitudes which enable each individual to make informed choices and take action at the local, national, and global levels. However, they have different backgrounds, agendas, and thematic focuses, which in some cases allows them to serve different stakeholder groups.
The normative basis for UNESCO's approach to GCED is the 1974 UNESCO Recommendation on Education for International Understanding, Cooperation and Peace and Education Concerning Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
The Global Education First Initiative (GEFI), launched by outgoing UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2012, also supports UNESCO's work in this area. The initiative sees the promotion of global citizenship as one of three educational priorities, thus highlighting the role of education in efforts to create a more just, peaceful, tolerant, and inclusive world.