Government ministers appealed at the end of a three-day UN meeting here to teach children the ideas of "sustainable development" at schools around the world.
A closing declaration said this would be an investment in the future. The worldwide financial crisis had shown the dangers of only being oriented to short-term interests, the statement said.
The conference was organised jointly by Germany and Unesco, the UN cultural organisation.
Participants said "educational for sustainable development" was a "comprehensive" new approach which would teach young people about human rights, fighting poverty, climate change, gender equality and protecting indigenous cultures.
It had to become a guiding principle in teacher training, textbook writing and school syllabuses.
Conference participants described what they have been teaching in their regions of the world. Some 150 nations were represented.
Unesco organised the meeting as part of its efforts to help the 75 million children around the globe who have no access to schooling.
German Education Minister Annette Schavan said the conference should build support for the idea that education for sustainable development should play a greater role than it has done in the past.
"Local action has global consequences," she said, pointing out the education was the cornerstone of future-oriented prosperity.