The winner of a new award for youth action on climate, peace and disarmament, the Peace and Climate action of European Youth (PACEY) Award, will be announced on January 9, 2020
My name is Oona. I am 23, I am French and I study politics. I joined the World Future Council in May 2019 as an intern for the Future Policy Award 2019: Empowering Youth. A few days ago, I participated in the “Fridays For Future” march in Hamburg.
The World Future Council (WFC) has just released a pioneering new policy handbook, compiling the most exemplary policies and practices to advance Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). After working with 16 Environment and Education Ministries, the Rights of Children and Youth Commission of the WFC has gathered together evidence that shows ESD can play a central role in empowering learners of all ages to positively respond to the pressing global challenges facing us, such as climate change, biodiversity loss and inequality.
Given the huge challenges the world faces, it is clear that we need to teach, learn and live in a fundamentally different manner. Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is increasingly recognised as playing a central role in empowering learners of all ages to positively respond to local and global challenges and act in a more peaceful, just, inclusive and sustainable manner. This approach is already helping people develop the skills, values and attitudes necessary to create more resilient societies and transition towards the skilled, green, low-carbon economies of the future.
This handbook explores some of the central success factors in policy, process and practice in some of the pioneering countries and contexts where ESD is being effectively embraced. It examines some of the major trends, case studies and challenges in introducing this more holistic, progressive, hands-on education.
There is no more powerful transformative force in the world today than quality education. It is an indispensable part of the development equation, promoting human rights and dignity, helping to eradicate poverty, fostering sustainability and building a better future for all. It empowers people to determine their own destiny. In our world of nearly eight billion people with finite
natural resources, individuals and societies have to learn to live together, taking responsible actions in the knowledge that not only do they impact people in other parts of the world, but have profound implications for future generations. The future health of the planet rests on creating an education that is at least as far-reaching, systemic, and transformative as the problems we face. Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) does just that. It can play a key role in promoting positive values and sustainable lifestyles, and empowering people of all ages as actors for peace and inclusive social change. Learning is a key component of innovation, strengthening our collective ability to address complex global and local challenges. There is growing international recognition of ESD’s potential as an integral and transformative element of quality education and lifelong learning and a key enabler of more just, inclusive, sustainable and resilient societies. To do this ESD must continue to empower learners to transform themselves and their communities. Through its embrace of progressive pedagogies, technical and vocational training, and 21st century skills, ESD is helping learners developing fundamental skills, knowledge and competencies such as critical thinking, scenario planning and collaborative decision making, collaboration, and problem-solving
The collaboration with the Julius-Leber-Schule in Hamburg began with an Erasmus+ project, called sustain.me, which was attended by the head of our children’s rights department, Samia Kassid, in the early summer of last year. As part of sustain.me, second-level students from Germany, France, Belgium, Italy and Spain came together to work together on the project on sustainability.
For the next 10 days, the bustling city of Marrakech will host a small army of government negotiators, NGO representatives and business delegates for COP 22, a huge international follow-up conference that aims to build on the scaffolding of 2015’s historic Paris Agreement on climate change. Read more
From 12-14 October the World Future Council hosted a workshop in Annapolis, Maryland for representatives of education and environmental ministries from around the world, to explore the positive impacts of the state’s Environmental Literacy (E-lit) Standards. Participants from five continents came together to see Maryland’s pioneering policy in action but also share their own experiences and success stories in pursuing environmental educations in their home countries.
The link between children’s rights and well-being and the environment is now beyond doubt, and was recently discussed as an urgent point of action at the UN-Committee on the Rights of the Child at which we raised Maryland’s environmental education model as a best practice example. Access to a healthy environment is vital for children’s physical and mental health.
Maryland became the first US State to make environmental literacy a mandatory high-school graduation requirement in 2011, a policy for which we awarded the Silver Future Policy Award 2015. This environmental education requirement has fostered the integration of environmental content in varied ways and in subjects across the curriculum from Kindergarten through to graduation. It has also strengthened the cooperation between outdoor education providers and schools to ensure that every child has regular meaningful experiences in nature.
The link between children’s rights and well-being and the environment is now beyond doubt, and was recently discussed as an urgent point of action at the UN-Committee on the Rights of the Child at which we raised Maryland’s environmental education model as a best practice example. Access to a healthy environment is vital for children’s physical and mental health. In the face of climate change and widespread environmental degradation and pollution, many children are already experiencing adverse effects such as chronic respiratory problems, asthma and behaviour disorders. In many countries we are witnessing the first generation of children largely growing up indoors. Too often the experience of childhood has become disconnected from the natural world. As several of the delegates in Maryland noted this can have serious impacts for both children and nature: you do not protect what you do not know.
Maryland’s environmental literacy standards with its focus on hands-on outdoor learning offers a wide variety of benefits for students – enhancing engagement, raising test scores, and increasing well-being – as well as the local environment and wider society. The workshop, hosted in cooperation with the Maryland’s Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE) and the Maryland Partnership for Children in Nature, allowed delegates the chance to join a broad range of field experiences with Maryland school kids testing river pollution levels and relating the findings to surrounding land use, identifying wildlife and plant species in the Chesapeake bay ecosystem and conducting experiments to learn about the importance of oysters for water quality. These rich experiences added to three days of fruitful exchange and insightful discussions, on environmental education best practice from both the agencies, NGOs and champions delivering it on the ground in Maryland and the international delegations that took part.
Our task now is to apply the lessons we have all learnt and work with this vibrant network of legislators to help spread elements of this proven policy into national and local curricula around the globe.
Hamburg/Annapolis, October 28: Environmental education programmes could be key to the long-term fight against the devastating impacts of climate change, say a group of representatives of education and environmental ministries from around the world, recently convened by the World Future Council (WFC) in Annapolis, Maryland, USA. Read more
Given the many challenges our societies and environment are facing, children and young people across the globe must be equipped to positively shape their future and be empowered to learn and live in an increasingly sustainable manner. Practical environmental education that is integrated across the curriculum has been shown to be a key solution offering a wide variety of benefits both for students, teachers, the environment and wider society.
In 2011 the U.S. State of Maryland introduced a pioneering Environmental Literacy Standard which mandates that all Maryland students are environmentally literate by graduation. Environmental literacy is now taught in very diverse and holistic methods throughout the school curriculum (often in great hands-on outdoor experiences such as restoring reefs and wetlands, planting trees and learning at outdoor environmental education centres). Maryland’s Environmental Literacy Standards was the 2015 winner of the WFC’s silver Future Policy Award, as it provides an excellent holistic model of sustainable and environmental education that has been implemented with the support of a broad coalition of partners.
The World Future Council’s Rights of Children (RoC) team is now bringing together Ministries and legislators who are interested in learning first-hand about this pioneering model in an international workshop in Maryland (12-14 October 2016). The legislators will learn about Maryland’s successful implementation of environmental literacy legislation, exchange best practice and identify potential policy reforms for their own countries and regions.
A flurry of positive environmental news stories emerging from Maryland is giving hope that the State’s strong environmental education legislation, which the WFC is working to spread, combined with tough pollution control and restoration actions is paying off. Recent weeks have seen particularly positive news for the Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in the US surrounded by Maryland and Virginia, which had become overfished and badly polluted with sewage, agricultural runoff and industrial waste since the 1970s. News that sewage pollution goals have been met 10 years early, that there has been a resurgence in aquatic grasses, blue crab, striped bass and bald eagle populations and that “dead zones” in the bay are shrinking are all giving cheer to those involved in restoration and environmental education activities in the area.
Environmental literacy is not just about having a deep understanding of environmental issues facing the planet today, but is also crucially about working to help reduce them.
On a recent environmental education field trip to Maryland, WFC staff saw first hand how awareness raising and practical actions go hand in hand to produce these kind of success stories. Environmental literacy is not just about having a deep understanding of environmental issues facing the planet today, but is also crucially about working to help reduce them. Groups like the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) and the Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE) are improving awareness and changing behavior among Maryland’s schools and communities while actively restoring native oysters, planting underwater grasses, trees and stream buffers to restore the Bay’s natural filters.
In Maryland, these kind of actions by schools are not only encouraged but are a mandatory part of the curriculum thanks to the Maryland’s pioneering Environmental literacy Standards which in 2011 ruled that each local school system must provide a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary environmental education programme. We saw this first hand when joining a recent science class boat trip where students measured the quality of the water using a range of technology which they then analysed before releasing oysters they had grown into the bay. Oysters are economically important to the surrounding region but are also a vital part of the water filtration system. One oyster can filter about 50 gallons of water a day, meaning that maintaining high oyster levels is very important in making sure the water is fit for wildlife. More than 200 million oysters have been ‘planted’ as a result of these restoration programmes which have undoubtedly had a positive impact on the bay’s water quality
The good news isn’t only confined to the health of the bay but also to a student led victory on climate change. Faced with strong calls from Maryland’s undergraduate students to act on greenhouse gas emissions, the University System of Maryland Foundation pledged to direct its $1 billion endowment away from coal, oil and natural gas companies and instead invest in renewable energy. “It’s because of the students and the positions they took that caused us to focus on it this year,” said Leonard Raley, president and CEO of the foundation. “The world is changing and we’re paying attention to it. We’re concerned about climate change and I think the actions that our foundation took reflect that.”
Of course not all these victories are down to Maryland’s pioneering environmental literacy requirement but we certainly believe it is playing a key role. We are now focussing our efforts at the WFC on showing legislators from around the world how introducing a mandatory and holistic programme for educating young people about our environmental responsibilities can have a positive impact both on the health of local wildlife and in tackling environmental problems such as climate change.