M.Sc. Environment and Natural Resources, Kathmandu University
In 1992, the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in its Agenda 21, set a high priority on the role of education in enabling sustainable development because education is indispensable in changing people’s attitudes so that they have the capacity to access and address their sustainable development concerns through environmental and ethical awareness, values and attitudes, skills and behavior in consistent with sustainable development. In 2003, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) identified Eco-schools as a model for initiative for Education for Sustainable Development.
The Foundation of Environmental Education (FEE), formed by Dutchman Harry Wals in 1981 in Denmark, started the Eco-Schools which have now expanded over 73 countries, 50,000 schools and institutes and over 17,000,000 students across the globe. Eco-school concept is not only confined to schools but also to campus known as Eco-Campus that began in Russia in 2003. In 2010, University of Cork in Ireland became the first university to be awarded the Green Flag.
According to FEE, Eco-school is a holistic approach to encourage and actively engage young people to make environmental awareness and action plans for nature conservation. There are three facets of Green School viz. ecological literacy, learning by living it and environmental ethics (organizational behavior and attitude). Ecological literacy includes a comprehensive understanding of the basic patterns and process by which nature sustains life, and the ways through which these ecological concepts are related to sustainable human communities. In Learning it by living the school will adopt facilities and demonstrate environmental principles such as the 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle), renewable energy, energy efficiency and resource conservation providing an experiential approach to enhance the environmental awareness of both students and staff. As a responsible individual, all the members of the school community will develop a personal and collective code of responsibility towards nature, earth and the future generation which is explained under Environmental Ethic (greening organizational behaviour and attitudes)
In Nepal different organizations like Wildlife Conservation Nepal (WCN), Friends of Nature (FON), and Environment Camps for Conservation Awareness (ECCA) are working to achieve an eco-friendly activities in schools since early 90’s. They are working to achieve Green/eco-school through different interventions like nature walk, hike, visit to an organic farm, composting, plantation, awareness campaigns, trainings, among others thereby providing hands-on experience to the students and teachers in order to fulfill the gaps between environment and education to encourage sustainable use of natural resource management, and awareness on conservation.