This paper proposes an urgent transformation of education for sustainable development (ESD) to position education as a main driver for achieving a sustainable society. Within the framework of the Regional Centres for Expertise on ESD (RCE) which host over 180 members across the globe, this paper illustrates eight promising cases from RCE members from China, Finland, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Uganda, in engaging communities, finding local solutions to global sustainable development issues and leading action-oriented ESD learning. The cases focus on three pertaining aspects, 1) responding to the COVID-19 pandemic with multi-stakeholder ESD models, 2) contextualizing climate actions to the local urgency, and 3) safeguarding local biodiversity through ESD. The synthesis of the eight cases illustrates five common and noticeable trends in successful education and lifelong learning for sustainability: Action-oriented learning, active community engagement, place-based learning, inclusive remote learning, and timely responses to local needs of global agenda.