Environmental Education Programmes from Foundation for Environmental Education

Finn Bolding Thomsen
Green Key Programme Director, Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), Copenhagen –Denmark
E-mail: finn@feeinternational.org
Web: www.green-key.org

Foundation for Environmental Education

The Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) is the world’s largest international charity, working with environmental education in the broader context of education for sustainable development.

FEE is recognised internationally by large UN organisations such as UNEP and UNESCO. FEE has also other cooperation with other international stakeholders like ISESCO, IUCN, European Environmental Agency, etc. Furthermore, FEE has been working with large corporate partners such as Panasonic, Wrigley Foundation and Toyota, who assist in spreading large-scale projects.

FEE is an umbrella organisation with members in 68 countries around the world in charge of implementing its programmes at the national level. FEE has member organisations in various countries in the Arab world: Morocco, Tunisia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates. Organisations in a number of other countries in Northern Africa and the Middle East have expressed interest in joining FEE. In order for an organisation to become member of FEE, it must be able to fulfil various technical and financial commitments as well as being able to implement at least two of FEE’s five environmental education programmes.

FEE works through the five environmental education programmes: Blue Flag, Green Key, Eco-Schools, Young Reporters for the Environment and Learning about Forests.

1. Blue Flag

The Blue Flag is the world’s biggest a voluntary ecolabel for beaches and marinas with more than 4,000 sites in 48 countries.

The Blue Flag works towards sustainable development through compliance with strict criteria (32 beach criteria and 24 marina criteria) dealing with environmental education and information, environmental management, water quality, and safety and other services. Most criteria are imperative, while some criteria are guideline.

The local authority or marina manager wishing to apply for Blue Flag for its beach or marina contacts the national FEE member organisation. The Blue Flag national operator is in charge of evaluating the incoming applications and present it for a national Blue Flag Jury (consisting of representatives of ministries of environment, health and tourism, sailing and lifesaving associations, education experts and NGOs) for decision. The nationally approved beaches and marinas are forwarded to an International Jury for final approval. The Blue Flag award is valid for one season. During the season, national and international control visits are being conducted to the Blue Flag awarded beaches. Guests using the sites are also encouraged to give their comments. As the programme became a programme of FEE in 1987, it is considered the world’s oldest still existing eco-label.

2. Green Key

Green Key is an eco-label for tourism facilities (hotels, campsites, small accommodations, attractions and restaurants) aiming to contributing to sustainable tourism by awarding and promoting best practise.

Green Key aims to change the practice and behaviour of tourism actors, including guests and hotel staff, and to involve them in increasingly safeguarding their own environment.

Green Key originated in Denmark in 1994. Today the programme has more than 2,100 awarded sites in 45 countries making Green Key among the world’s largest and fastest growing eco-labels on accommodation.

Besides being managed through Green Key national operators, the programme is also available for international hotel chains. Currently, Rezidor and Starwood hotel chains have an agreement with Green Key International.

The Green Key catalogue consists of a number of standardised baseline international criteria. Each national Green Key operator can add more specialised national criteria to ensure better adjustment to national legislation, infrastructure, etc. The Green Key criteria focus on environmental management of water, energy and waste as well as the involvement of guests, staff and suppliers.

The Green Key award is granted for one year at a time nationally through a Green Key national jury or technical committee and internationally through the Green Key international steering committee. Regular onsite audits are conducted to verify the award.

3. Eco-Schools

Eco-Schools is a global student-led change programme. Through a flexibly implemented, but structured process of change management, Eco-Schools creates opportunities for continuous improvement towards great environmental sustainability. The Eco-Schools programme began in 1994, and in 2003, UNEP identified Eco-Schools as a model initiative for Education for Sustainable Development.

Success in this programme can be seen from preschool involvement through to universities and other third level colleges. Currently 58 countries around the world are involved in the programme with the engagement of more than 14 million students, 1.5 million teachers, 45,000 schools and 13,000 local authorities.

The heart of the Eco-Schools programme is the"seven steps change methodology" that all involved schools follow. Each Eco-Schools national operator adapts or adopts the international criteria with respect to national curriculum guidelines and cultural belief. The goal is to build the capacity of each school ecocommittee to self-manage the seven steps process. Is it only by starting with easily managed objectives and achievable steps that a school can begin to tackle harder tasks involving greater changes. To do this, the eco-committee selects which themes (such as water, waste, energy, climate change, etc.) to work on and teachers include the investigations and actions within the day-to-day teaching of the school curriculum. In turn, the ability of a school to build organisational capacity and successfully implement the criteria for Eco-Schools benchmarks their right to be awarded with the internationally recognised symbol of Eco- Schools, the Green Flag. In some countries, schools are acknowledged for this gradual improvement in process and outcome through a bronze and silver award before achieving the Green Flag.

4. Young Reporters for the Environment

Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE) is a network of international youth engaged in environmental journalism and education for sustainable development. YRE became a programme of FEE in 1994 and is currently operating in more than 25 countries.

Each YRE project must fulfil three objectives: investigate a local environmental issue and propose a solution, produce a journalistic output (article, photo or video) meeting set criteria, and disseminate the output to a local audience. The YRE programme has two levels of activity. At the local level, the students conduct the steps as described above. At the international level, the students can cooperate with young reporters from other countries using social media to share information.

The international network created between the different groups of students and teachers serves as an international press agency, specialising in producing and delivering information about the environment. The YRE national operator and the YRE website proposing ideas and activities and providing tools and services support each YRE team in their work.

Every year the best submissions from each country are nominated by a National Jury to compete for the international awards, divided in three age categories (11-14, 15-18 and 19-21) and divided in the different output (article, photo and video).

5. Learning About Forests

Learning about Forests (LEAF) has a vision to see an increased level of awareness and knowledge about the key role forests play for sustainable life on our planet. The programme reflects all the functions forests fulfil for people: cultural, ecological, economic and social. Understanding the balance between those uses is crucial when studying how humans interact with forests. LEAF’s mission is to spread environmental education concerning forests and all their values to schoolchildren all over the world using fun, actionoriented, participatory and positive methods.

LEAF was initiated in Norway, Sweden and Finland and became a programme of FEE in 2000. Today more than 20 countries are running the LEAF programme. While LEAF is a relatively new programme in forest education, it builds on the accumulated experience of well-established programmes in many countries.

A broad-based national steering committee for the programme must be established with representatives from various relevant partners, such as educational experts as well as organisations interested in the social, ecological and economical values of forests.

National programmes should be adapted to address national needs and priorities. All programme activities, teacher training and material for students are teachers are produced in accordance with LEAF's vision, mission and philosophy. Participating schools are encouraged to include field trips to forests.

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