The Greening Schools for Sustainable Communities Programme establishes green schools as hubs of inspiration for whole community transformation.
It makes sense to work through schools as entry points to sustainable community development. It is in schools that we find the next generation of leaders – schools are places where the future and the present meet. Schools can become demonstration sites for appropriate technologies for climate change adaptation, starting from food and nutrition security.
The Greening Schools approach addresses the most urgent needs of food and nutrition security first, by turning school lands into green edible landscapes and a source of food and well-being for students, teachers and parents. Green Schools serve as excellent examples of addressing environmental degradation and malnutrition. The approach then moves on, encouraging the adoption of green technologies for renewable energy solutions, rainwater harvesting, waste recycling, etc. to finally broaden into the social, cultural and economic aspects of sustainable development. Schools become hubs of inspiration from where these innovative ideas can spread into the broader communities.
The Greening Schools Programme teaches life skills for ecological stability, social equity, cultural heritage preservation and economic viability, thus improving the preparedness of children and youth to respond adequately to risks and uncertainties in a changing climate. Our long-term aim is to have these innovative, participatory approaches included in national school curricula.
Integral to this work is the use of a tool called the Integrated Land Use Design (ILUD) that aims to build partnerships between school children, community and teachers, in redesigning their land for improved land use, environmental consciousness and enrichment of lives using the locally available resources. ILUD is a participatory design process for school communities which facilitates intergenerational learning through cultural knowledge sharing and partnerships forged between each school and their surrounding community. It combines with GEN Education to birth sustainable schools at the heart of sustainable communities.
Steps of the Integrated Land Use Design
- Grounding – reconnecting the school community to nature, culture and the past.
- Situational analysis – identifying locally available resources and developing a common understanding of these resources; unpacking the current situation together.
- Visioning – thinking into the future and developing long term goals that are shared by the school community and that cover ecological, social, cultural and economic dimensions.
- Integral design – using regenerative design principles to redesign a multi-functional landscape around schools that meets the needs of students, teachers and parents.
- Implementation and monitoring – implementing the design, following work plans, and monitoring progress in a genuinely participatory way.
The approach connects children and youth to the natural world through learner-led inquiry, hands-on and active exploration, and fun in a safe environment. Practically engaging with the earth, the source of their food, and understanding the flows of air, water, and energy allows each child to become a sustainable resource manager.
Core principles behind the Greening Schools for Sustainable Communities Programme
- Emphasis on identification and use of local and indigenous resources and knowledge.
- Inclusive and active participation of the school community.
- Genuine and wide participation of young people in decision making.
- Gender balance for each step of the programme.
- Systematic and regular learning from experience and planning ahead.
- Ensuring implementation of designs based on creative and well thought out designs and plans.
- Ensuring documentation and transparent information sharing, skills and practices.
- Making learning fun, practical and relevant.
The initiative envisions green schools that serve as demonstration centres for green technologies. It aims at increasing the level of environmental stewardship among all sections of the community including students, policy makers and the business world to achieve the sustainable development goals. Children and youth are the agents of change and real transformation, leading to thriving communities and neighbourhoods.