A recent report for UNESCO that looked at the main lessons learned from ESD practice in the UK concluded that "ESD is misunderstood." This seems entirely the wrong way round to me: People find ESD impossible to understand, more like.
Here's a 7 point plan to ensure that any educational misadventure ends up like this:
1. Think up a new concept using at least 3 multi-syllable words.
2. Make sure the phrase contains at least one abstract noun – two for preference.
3. The noun(s) should have confused and contested meanings and already be in everyday use in potentially unhelpful ways.
4. Use arcane language to describe the concept so that its usefulness is not immediately clear to potential stakeholders.
5. Establish vague goals in order to make evaluation impossible.
6. Create, and then reify, a new acronym to go with all this.
7. Put an overstretched, underfunded and largely disinterested UN agency in charge of promoting it.
Finally, when communication and all else fails, blame other people.