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Eco-Schools is an international programme of the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) that aims to empower students to be the change our sustainable world needs by engaging them in fun, action-orientated learning. Each school follows a seven step change process and empowers their young people to lead processes and actions wherever they can. Over time and through commitment to the Eco-Schools seven step process, improvements will be seen in both the learning outcomes, attitude and behaviour of students and the local community and ultimately the local environment. Evidence of success in these areas will eventually lead to a school being awarded ‘The Green Flag’.
Eco-Schools has been implemented in 58 countries, involving 46 000 schools.
The programme was developed in 1992 in response to the need to involve young people in environmental projects at the local level as identified at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development of 1992. Eco-Schools was launched in 1994 in Denmark, Germany, Greece and the United Kingdom with the support of the European Commission. In 2003 Eco-Schools was identified by UNEP as a model initiative for Education for Sustainable Development.
The programme’s methodology consists of seven steps that the school needs to adopt as a methodology.
Step 1 Establishment of the Eco-schools Committee
Step 2 Environmental review
Step 3 Action Plan
Step 4 Monitoring and Evaluation
Step 5 Curriculum Linking
Step 6 Informing and involving the wider community
Step 7 Eco-Code
Participation and awards
Any school may participate in the scheme by registering with the administering body for their region. Once registered each school must review and improve their impact on the environment and in recognition of their commitment and progress they can then apply for an award. Successful Eco-Schools are awarded the Green Flag, an internationally acknowledged symbol for environmental excellence. In some countries, this recognition happens through a three level system, where schools are awarded either bronze and silver awards before getting the green flag, or one and two stars.
There is flexibility to the ceremony and awarding process but the criteria for assessing schools for the award must follow the guidelines of FEE's International Eco-Schools Programme.
To qualify for an award the school must follow the following programme
- Register - usually done by an adult (teacher or parent).
- Eco-Schools Committee - a group of pupils and adults - some elected by their peers are assembled to manage the process.
- Environmental Review - the Eco-Schools Committee must organise the school to carry out a review of the schools energy and water usage, waste production and state of the school grounds with respect to litter.
- Action Plan- formed from issues identified by the review
- Eco-code - the Eco-Schools Committee, with the participation of the whole school must develop a mission statement to be prominently advertised inside and outside the school.
- Take Action - demonstrable progress must be made in three areas of the programme.
- Monitor and Review - the Eco-Schools Committee must record and analyse the progress made
After these processes are complete the school can apply for one of the awards mentioned above dependent on the level of environmental progress made.
Eco-Schools Partners and Sponsors
- United Nations Environment Program (UNEP)
- United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
- Earth Charter Initiative
- The Wrigley Company foundation
- Toyota Fund for Europe
Global Forest Fund
Eco-Schools compensates for their CO2 emissions from their flight travels when they go to for example conferences and national operator meetings through the Global Forest Fund. FEE has established the Global Forest Fund to help minimise the effects of CO2 emissions from the increased travel activity worldwide. The Fund supports schools and organisations by funding CO2 compensation efforts such as planting trees and environmental education activities.
Eco-Schools is a programme of the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE). FEE is an is a non-governmental, non-profit organisation promoting sustainable development through environmental education and is active in five programmes; Blue Flag, Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE), Learning about Forests (LEAF), Green Key and Eco-Schools. FEE is an international umbrella organisation with members in 67 countries worldwide.