Guidebook sustainabALE anwenden

What should be considered when working with the Guidebook sustainabALE?

The Guidebook sustainabALE presents a two-part model for implementing a Whole Institution Approach in adult learning and education. The four WIA priority areas identify potential areas of organisation that can be aligned with sustainable development criteria. They serve to analyse the status quo and assist in setting goals for the Whole Institution Approach. The model of the phases for a WIA describes the process of implementing sustainable organisational development and identifies five important process steps as well as challenges and opportunities. In the Guidebook suistanbALE both models are illustrated by numerous best practice examples. The guidebook also contains information on Education for Sustainable Development, the concept of the Whole Institution Approach and reports on the experiences of educational organisations in various countries.

The associated Workbook sustainabALE offers practical templates for implementing a WIA. The design is based on the WIA phase model and provides explanations of methods and work templates for each step, from analysis of the current situation and definition of goals to evaluation. The workbook is designed to help to structure workshops and meetings.

Additional working materials have also been developed:

  • The decision tree, which supports you in introducing the topic of WIA to your organisation, including argumentation guidelines to convince colleagues and management.
  • A poster for teachers that encourages them to focus on ESD as an interdisciplinary topic in the classroom.
  • A detailed schedule for a kick-off workshop to start the WIA process.
  • A reflection catalogue on the priority areas of a WIA that supports you in analysing the current situation and in setting goals.

Step by step with the Guidebook sustainabALE

The four priority areas of a Whole Institution Approach

Educational programme

The course programme of an educational organisation is its key activity and usually the area in which Education for Sustainable Development is already well established. In ESD courses, participants are taught skills that empower them to become pro-active in the process of social transformation. The most important factors of ESD are not simply including sustainability topics and imparting knowledge, but rather conveying the methodological approach and emboldening people to become active.


As part of a Whole Institution Approach, the management of an ALE organisation is involved in several areas that can be aligned with sustainability criteria.  This involves a change in organisational structures, processes and guidelines that shape day-to-day work and interaction within the team. Education for sustainable development is a holistic concept. The guiding principle of WIA is: “Live what we teach.”

Teaching and work environments

The infrastructure of an adult learning and education organisation offers many tangible opportunities for a Whole Institution Approach: facilities management and supply, the access to and within the building or aspects such as procurement, and the design of learning spaces.  An ALE is more than just a place of learning: it is a place of interaction, education, exchange and collaboration. Visitors and employees can directly see and experience how sustainability can be put into practice.


Social and ecological transformation can only be achieved through collective action.  Networks and collaboration can serve as catalysts to anchor education for sustainable development in the public and political debate. Adult learning and education institutions are important promoters of this change in both their role as actors and multipliers of sustainable practice.

The phase model for implementing a Whole Institution Approach

Based on traditional approaches for organisational development, the phase model is designed as a continuous, step-by-step process that, once established and consolidated, is implemented on a regular basis.

Phase 1: Commitment

In this initial phase, the Whole Institution Approach is introduced to the organisation. Leadership and colleagues are convinced to commit to implementation, and a steering group is formed to coordinate the process.

Phase 2: Analysis

The next step is to take an inventory of the implementation of ESD up to now. In this phase, support for the process should also be recruited from both inside and outside.

Phase 3: Strategy

Based on the results of the analysis, concrete goals are set for a strong implementation of ESD. The team develops a roadmap with tangible milestones and measurable indicators.

Phase 4: Implementation

In this phase, the steps agreed in phase 3 are pursued. To manage the WIA, permanent communication and a working structure are established.

Phase 5: Evaluation

The evaluation of the process is of particular importance in the WIA. Lessons learned are developed and the path to the next implementation phase is paved. The process starts again at phase 3.

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