Seven Key Areas
2. Education and young people
All faith groups set great store by their beliefs about young people. Children are our future citizens and members of belief groups; they will also become the custodians of the planet. Faith groups often have a major influence on children's education, both through the beliefs which are passed on, and the schools which in many cases they own and run. It follows that through their influence over young people's lives, faith groups have a major opportunity to inspire them to take seriously their responsibilities to the environment.
Our world is irreplaceable. Let’s save it.
Faiths are key stakeholders in the planet
Around 50% of educational institutions around the world are founded, managed, or associated with faith institutions, and this figure is even higher in the Global South. How can religions use their influence in the education system – and in the many ways they engage young people in informal education – to pursue their environmental goals?
Does faith-consistent teaching already exist within your formal education system? If so, have you mapped this?
How can you incorporate more in-depth, faith-consistent teachings about ecology and the environment into the curriculum? TBC
What capacity do you have for practical teaching and learning?
Have you considered how gender plays a role within your education systems and how this may impact the learning of your young people?
Often it is out of the classroom that children will learn some of their most important lessons.
Can schools extend the reach of their environmental curriculum by connecting with their local community?
Do you run faith groups for young people outside formal education? How can teaching and activities be tailored to include the environment?
Is there potential to set up environmental youth groups in your local or wider community?
Are there opportunities for intergenerational learning?
Teaching children: Indonesian faith-based environmental group Pepulih: see case study below
Can you ensure all new education buildings and extensions are built with rigorous environmental and sustainability criteria, and that playing fields and gardens pay attention to the needs of wildlife and nature as well as children?
Can you encourage young people to use environmentally friendly ways of travelling to and from school?
Is there potential to create outdoor classrooms or learning spaces?
How can your policies in relation to school property support the UN's Sustainable Development Goals?
Biogas digester installed in a Kenyan school to provide eco-friendly energy
Educational establishments are large consumers in the same way as hospitality and catering outlets – are you able to carry through the same principles and apply them to this sector?
Do you have policies of water and energy conservation for your educational buildings, and how do you ensure policy is adhered to?
What do you do about paper, food, sewerage and other waste?
Have you considered using a small-scale circular economy as a model for sustainable practice?
If the waste you produce cannot be dealt with internally, have you assessed the ethics and values of external systems you use?
Could you work with the natural curiosity, expertise and grassroots outreach of your faithful to organise environmental monitoring of the world around them? Sometimes it is only through compassionate mindfulness and systematic observation that scientific details will be collected, that rivers and eco-systems will be monitored for flora, fauna and pollution, and that early action can therefore be taken. If there are places that your faith community values, perhaps because they are beautiful, perhaps simply because they exist, then you are in a wonderful position to watch over and protect them.
Spreading the word among schools and communities in Indonesia
Pepulih is an Indonesian faith-based environental association, founded in 2004 on April 22, coinciding with Earth Day, and based in the capital, Jakarta. It started as a Christian association but in recent years has expanded its outreach to include other faiths, and now has members of different faith communities on its board.
Pepulih offers environmental education to faith groups in Indonesia, working with communities to raise environmental awareness, and support the following programmes: Green Culture for Green Water, Green Energy, Green Waste, Green Planting, Green Building, Green Village and Green Schools.
Central to Pepulih’s work is the importance of water, sanitation and hygiene – or WASH – programmes. It organises School for Water Days where childcare professionals and teachers learn to make water and hygiene issues integral to their thinking. Among those taking taken up WASH programmes are Sunday schools and schools in the slum areas of Jakarta.
Teachers and other childcare professionals are trained by Pepulih to pass on health and environmental messages – including the importance of WASH: Water, sanitation and hygiene
Do you have faith-associated youth organisations where environmental ideas could also be integrated – for example, through running youth camps in nature, organising street cleaning projects, and forest schools?
Is there a possibility to link organisations to wider platforms to ensure that they are being heard? What would it look like to create a global faiths youth network?
Could your youth groups or members of your community think about eco-twinning with environmental projects where the effects of climate change and biodiversity loss are being felt first-hand? This could be with projects of your own faith in another country, or in other regions of your own country. It could also be a development of an existing twinning relationship to include an environmental project.
Do you have knowledge or practical resources that you could share with others through an eco-twinning scheme? What could your faith group learn from your eco-twin partner?