Charles Hopkins holds the UNESCO Chair in Reorienting Education towards Sustainability at York University in Toronto, Canada. This chair, established in 1999, was the first UNESCO Chair to focus on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) as a central concept and purpose of education. Hopkins coordinates two research networks focused on ESD. One network is the International Network of Teacher Education Institutions (INTEI) which spans approximately 70 countries focusing on reorienting teacher education towards a sustainable future. It currently addresses the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Global Education 2030 Agenda. The second network, #IndigenousESD spans approximately 40 countries, focusing on engaging ESD content and pedagogy in reorienting education and training to improve the lives of Indigenous youth.
Hopkins is a founding developer of the UN University's Regional Centres of Expertise on ESD and has been involved in the founding of over 30 RCEs worldwide. He is an advisor for UNESCO-UNEVOC regarding the greening of technical and vocational educational training, and has collaborated with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in the past. He serves as the co-director of the Asia-Pacific Institute on ESD, Beijing, China.
Internationally, Hopkins has a long relationship with education and sustainability and has been a continuous part of UNESCO's efforts to develop ESD since its inception. Beginning in 1989 as part of the UN preparation team for the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Hopkins was a drafter of Chapter 36 of Agenda 21: Promoting Education, Public Awareness and Training. He was an advisor to the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (UNDESD), 2005-2014. In connection to the UNDESD, he chaired the writing process of the UNESCO Bonn Declaration on ESD (2009) and the writing of the Aichi-Nagoya Declaration on ESD at the closing of the Decade (2014). His Chair's INTEI is a Key Partner in UNESCO's Global Action Programme on ESD, (2015-2019).
An awarded leader in the field of education with seven honorary doctorates and professorships, Hopkins has lectured and presented papers in over 90 countries.