This paper explores the cultural politics of the concept of sustainable development by examining the role of education in the discourse of education for sustainable development (ESD). Using an international comparative framework, the author discusses cultural differences, particularly as they relate to Western industrialised societies and developing countries, by problematising taken-for-granted assumptions of globalised approaches to ESD. The United States and Ghana are used as case studies to highlight the different ways in which development is conceptualised in different cultures and settings. The author also critically explores what he describes as an American Development Paradigm and compares that to an African Development Paradigm . More significantly, he shows how unequal relationships, cultural differences, as well as different development aspirations shape people's understanding of sustainable development, and how that informs educational thinking and practice in different places and cultures.