Stories of sustainability education from around the world.

Stories of sustainability education from around the world.

October 17, 2018

Stories of sustainability education from around the world

Programs that promote education for sustainable food and agriculture are available from primary school to University. Examples of laudable initiatives come from all parts of the word, and now include BCFN's learning program.

Simply promoting sustainable food is not enough: it is only fair and very important that today's young generations, the adults of tomorrow's world, learn to promote sustainable development and preserve the planet's resources, with the help of educational programs designed specifically for them. Environmental education, as it was referred to by William P. Stapp, dates back to 1969, and in 1977 UNESCO officially turned it into a pedagogic mission. Respecting the environment, following carefully recycling rules and being environmentally responsible citizens: these sustainability education elements are real subjects studied by many youngsters around the world.

The Edible Schoolyard Project in the United States

Students at the Martin Luther King Jr Middle School in Berkeley, California, have an eclectic teacher: his name is Geoff Palla, and he is a gardener. Because gardening is a great way of providing sustainability education and showing children the impact that our actions have on nature. Since it was launched in 1995, the Edible Schoolyard project has reached hundreds of teachers and more than a million US children. 

We know that to take care of something we have to put our heart into it. And if students don't have the opportunity to experience nature first hand, doing simple things like cooking food and sharing meals, they will never be able to take care of the environment”, explained the Director of the project, Kyle Cornforth. In fact, in addition to gardening children learn about cooking and sustainable food. 


We try to teach children that the time and effort they put into growing and cooking is not wasted, and food should not be wasted either. If they throw away a tomato, I tell them to think about the seed they planted months ago. It takes a second to throw something away, but it means throwing away months and months of work, and it's important to remember this”, said Esther Cook, one of the teachers involved in the program. 

In Europe

Finland, of which we talked in previous issues of this magazine, paved the way to these educational programs, but the Scandinavian country is not the only one offering commendable examples of sustainability education: in a school in North London, for example, children between 3 and 11 years old learn songs that teach them all they need to know about fossil fuels, compost, the impact the different means of transportation have on the environment and a lot more. 

Children love singing about green issues”, says Beth Cleine, one of the teachers at the London school. “They learn simple, catchy songs and sing them in the classroom; it's a fun way of learning all together”. Each song is connected with a small project, mostly visual: so, for example, when the children learn the "Compost and growing" song, with the help of their teachers they set up compost bins, which are very useful in the school's vegetable garden and essential to understand the concept of sustainable development, and especially the concepts of use of resources and sustainable food.

In Italy, the issue of sustainable development has reached classrooms thanks to new educational programs. A good example comes from older students and has a more theoretic and less practical approach: the  interdisciplinary education at the University of Siena, where the Department of Physical Sciences, Earth and Environment offers a course called “Sustainability”. The program, which includes subjects that range from economy and sociology to energy and transport, is part of the University's commitment to sustainable development, also in relation to the important role assumed within the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network project. 

BCFN has promoted, and will keep promoting, free initiatives designed for students and teaches in Italy. Educational programs that create great synergy between food education and environmental education: a comprehensive analysis that explains the close connection between food and environment, health, society and migration. 

In particular, the program “Us, food and our planet” offers educational tools ranging from children stories to materials that teachers can use during their lessons, including special courses on the environment and sustainability education, all available on a dedicated website whose content is constantly updated and expanded.

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