Empowering today’s students for a more sustainable tomorrow
Combining environment-based learning with hands-on experiences, the Eco-Schools program sparks action in the classroom that ripples out into the greater community. Utilizing a Seven Step Framework, students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade are engaged in making their community and the world a more sustainable place to live.
Developed in 1994 by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), Eco-Schools is a response to the needs identified at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. Today Eco-Schools is the largest global sustainable schools program, spanning 69 countries that together reach more than 50,000 schools worldwide. The National Wildlife Federation was granted host status in 2008 and, as the national operators in the United States, launched Eco-Schools USA in 2009.
In addition, the National Wildlife Federation is also the U.S. host for the Young Reporters for the Environment competition and the Learning About Forests program, which operates as a pathway within the Eco-Schools USA program.
Sustainable development cannot be achieved by technological solutions, political regulation, or financial instruments alone. It requires quality education and learning for sustainable development at all levels and in all social contexts. Education for Sustainable Development is about enabling students to constructively and creatively address present and future global challenges and create more sustainable and resilient societies.
As a member of FEE, Eco-Schools USA is also an official partner of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) and a key partner in the Global Action Program (GAP) on Education for Sustainable Development. UNESCO supports countries in building capacities for Education for Sustainable Development and scaling up actions, focusing on key issues—such as climate change, biodiversity, disaster risk reduction, water, cultural diversity, sustainable urbanization, and sustainable lifestyles—as entry points for promoting sustainable development practices through education.
The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals address some of the systemic barriers to sustainable development and offer better coverage of, and balance between, the three dimensions of sustainable development: social diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice; economics; and the environment. The Foundation for Environmental Education, through its mission of fostering awareness, knowledge, participation, commitment, skills, actions, and creativity, shares the core values behind the Sustainable Development Goals. As such, Eco-Schools pathways and activities are aligned to these Sustainable Development Goals.