Celebrating the 30th Anniversary

Early Childhood Education for Sustainable Development began in earnest 30 years ago this month.

In an OMEP International Seminar held in Moscow in December 1991 Madeline Goutard (World President of OMEP 1981-86) spoke strongly in favour of the emphasis given in Article 29 of the 1990 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child to the importance of educating children to guard and respect the natural environment.

Madeline Goutard reported on a OMEP Regional Seminar that had taken place in Columbia on the theme Every Child is the Heir of Nature, and on a project brought forward by the OMEP Committees of Australia and Denmark which focused on The Charter of the Earth that resulted in the publication Child and Nature (Bøndergaard, et al, 1992).

That publication had been available at the 1991 OMEP XXth World Congress in Arizona. It is notable that all of this work pre-dated the United Nations Earth Summit which was held in Rio in June 1992.

Madeline Goutard presented a paper entitled “Créativité et développement durable” (Creativity and Sustainable Development) at an OMEP International seminar in Bogata in 1993, and in 1996 UNESCO supported the publication of Children, Nature and the Environment, a study produced in a collaboration of OMEP Denmark and France.  Since then OMEP has contributed exemplars of good practice in early childhood education for sustainable development to several UNESCO publications.

Ingrid Pramling-Samuelsson (OMEP World President 2008-2013) has held the UNESCO Chair in Early Childhood education for Sustainable Development since 2008 when UNESCO published The Contribution of Early Childhood Education to a sustainable Society (Pramling-Samuelssor and Kaga, 2008).

The 2001 the General Comments provided by UNICEF to the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child elaborate and identify the importance of integrating the economic, social and cultural and citizenship dimensions of sustainability with environmental education.

“Education in this regard should take place within the family, but schools and communities must also play an important role.  For example, for the development of respect for the natural environment, Education must link issues of environment and sustainable development with socio economic, sociocultural and demographic issues.  Similarly, respect for the natural environment should be learnt by children at home, in school and within the community, encompass both national and international problems, and actively involve children in local, regional or global environmental projects” (UNICEF, 2001).

Since its founding in 1948, World OMEP has had consultative status at the United Nations and it currently has SPECIAL CONSULTATIVE STATUS granted by the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). This month the current OMEP World President, Mercedes Mayol Lassalle, has been re-elected for the period 2022/23 as a member of the Coordinating Group of the Collective Consultation of NGOs in Education 2030 of UNESCO.

Bøndergaard, J., Rasmussen, N., Flemming, M., OMEP Danish & Australian National Committees (1992) Child and Nature, Copenhagen: OMEP.
OMEP (1991) The Universal and the National in Preschool Education Papers from the OMEP International Seminar Moscow 4-7 December, OMEP/UNESCO Publication https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED368447.pdf

OMEP (1991) The Universal and the National in Preschool Education Papers from the OMEP International Seminar Moscow 4-7 December,

OMEP/UNESCO Publication https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED368447.pdf UNICEF (2001) General Comment 1: The Functions of article 29(1) online: https://www.unicef-irc.org/portfolios/general_comments/GC1_en.doc.html


The OMEP-UK Early Childhood Education for Sustainable Citizenship Award


This webinar was be presented by Vicky Moyle, and Dianne Yewman, with Lynnette Brock and John Siraj-Blatchford

Vicky and Dianne shared their experience of achieving the OMEP-UK ESC Bronze Award and embarking upon Silver. The seminar provided an opportunity to celebrate the latest Award achievements, and also to provide an Introduction to those considering an entry to the OMEP-UK Education for Sustainable Citizenship Award scheme.

OMEP-UK Early Childhood Education for Sustainable Citizenship Award


Sustainable Development means making our decisions today so that they; ‘meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’.  The subject is therefore all about the future needs and well-being of preschool children.

Education for sustainable development presents humankind (as a species) as interdependent with the natural world, recognising that the plants and animals around us live in an ecological balance, and that we are also interdependent with each other, as individuals, as groups, cultures, and as nations.  In terms of early childhood development and learning, our understanding of interdependency begins with our learning about ourselves, and about how we respect and care for each other and the wider environment.

From September 2019, the UK chapter of the World Organisation for Early Childhood Education (the Organisation Mondiale pour l’Education Préscolaire)(OMEP) will be offering early childhood education and care providers the opportunity to apply for an Education for Sustainable Citizenship (ESC) Award.  This OMEP-UK scheme has been developed to support a wide range of early childhood education providers including childminders, preschools, and nurseries who are already working with parents in supporting the objectives of Education for Sustainable Development in early childhood.  The associated resources and training materials offer an optimistic, and pro-active approach to the subject that celebrates sustainable achievements and innovations and encourages children to feel themselves involved in the creation of a more sustainable future.

The scheme is organised around an OMEP ‘ESC Passport’ that is provided for each child. The passport will provide discounted entry to wildlife conservation parks and other related community resources and services.  Each child is able to collect up to 15 award stickers for entry into their passport, and these show their ESC achievements at Bronze, Silver and Gold level.  To be awarded each sticker, parents and preschool practitioners work together to support the child in completing educational activities that range from the identification three wild birds, the identification of wildlife habitats, to the recycling of waste materials, and the recognition of cultural and linguistic diversity. The activities are set at an appropriate level for the age group, they are based upon commonly available environmental resources, and provide the foundations of an education for sustainable citizenship that addresses all aspects of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

OMEP UK are offering accredited training for experienced independent early years trainers and support staff so that they can work with settings in achieving the Award.  As it has been developed here, Education for Sustainable Citizenship should not be seen as a curriculum add-on or an additional commitment: ESC provides a highly motivating new perspective in early childhood with really transformational potential.  Experience has shown that the activities and experiences of ESC improve learning outcomes and wellbeing right across the curriculum, the setting and the wider community.

Early Childhood Education and Care for Sustainability: International Perspectives

You can download a copy of the foreword to Valerie Huggins and David Evans new book HERE

The book is available from Routledge with 20% discount code LMT02

This innovative and timely book explores issues and concerns surrounding Education for Sustainable Development in early childhood, providing a range of perspectives on how we can live and promote more healthy, just and sustainable lives. It examines the professional responsibility of Early Years practitioners to embed sustainability into their everyday practice and to ensure that young children are acquiring the knowledge and skills they need to become effective agents of change, committed problem-solvers and system-thinkers.

Bringing together international examples of best practice, drawing on cutting-edge research, and providing an array of practical examples, chapters focus on issues such as:

  • the historical context of Early Education for Sustainability
  • complexities and challenges involved in implementing sustainable approaches
  • encouraging children to contribute to an enabling society
  • adopting environmentally sustainable approaches in Early Years settings
  • the future of sustainability in Early Years education.

This book offers essential support to Early Years educators, practitioners and students who are key players in shaping the fundamental attitudes and beliefs of our planet’s future citizens, enabling them to assume their responsibilities, now and in the future, in regard to environmental, social and economic sustainability.

State of the Worlds Plants 2017

Lots on the BBC today about the 21% of the worlds plants currently facing risk of extinction. The report says a lot about how the plants are endangered and the implications of this for medical research amongst other things. It isn’t just about plants either, in Madagascar there used to be much bigger lemurs that are now extinct, they ate the fruit from a range of plants that are now critically endangered (orphaned’) because the lemurs provided them with a means of seed dispersal. The seeds are too big for the smaller lemurs and other animals. This is just one way in which ecological interdependency works… We have to draw a line and that is what the children’s campaign to save the surviving lemurs is all about. Please support it: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/BigWalkforLemurs

Campaign to save Lemurs

Please support the 180 preschool children in Kent who are currently campaigning as sustainable citizens for the protection of their wildlife heritage and for the Lemurs of Madagascar. In the process they are learning to care for the natural world and they are learning that they can contribute towards protecting it. Resources and strategies have been developed that introduce the children to the roles of Wildlife Rangers who are employed to take care of the Lemurs. The children will engage in socio-dramatic play acting out the roles of Lemurs and Wildlife Rangers.  Radio telemetry equipment is being used to show them how the Rangers will win (with the funding provided) in their game of ‘hide and seek’ and how they will be able to protect the animals. Later the children will learn that celebrity animals like the Lemurs are an integral part of complex local ecosystems and that their loss has implications for countless other natural species who share their habitat. It may be some years before they fully understand the importance of biodiversity and of the actions that they are taking, but for now they are all exercising their Right as identified in the UN Convention to have a voice on all matters that materially affect them. They are learning to care about the natural world and they are learning that they can take action to protect it. Please support them. A campaign poster made up of all the children’s faces is available for download HERE. Please print it out and display – lets show them that we all support them.

Yagi2s  poster3

SchemaPlay Collaboration with Kent CC

A collaborative project between Kent County Council Early Years and Child Care Service and SchemaPlay was launched in October 2016. The work has initially involved six preschools in developing training resources for Education for Sustainable Citizenship (EfSC). These resources were to be applied across the authority but these initial aims have now been developed further in the collaboration, and the intention is to supplement the work with the development of a more appropriate and comprehensive ESC curriculum auditing tool kit, and a preschool accreditation scheme with the potential of national and even international application. Inequality and underachievement provide a significant barrier to sustainable development and the work carried out has therefore been focused as much on raising effectiveness and outcomes, as on the traditional concerns of developing the foundations of environmental, economic and sociocultural education in early childhood.

Early childhood economics education has been identified as an area in need of development in education for sustainable development. One of the early activities that was therefore developed in the pilot preschools involved the children growing hyacinths for sale to parents at Christmas. The children were then able to decide what to spend the income on to support their playful learning in the preschool. Each child initially ‘bought’ their pot, soil and bulb from a ‘Nursery in the Nursery’, and in many of the settings the children went on to set up a shop for their parents to buy the flowering plants.



Education for Sustainable Citizenship in Early Childhood

Early Years Training and Coaching (kathybrodie.com)

Education for Sustainable Development is about Environmental Education, it is about Global and Intercultural education, and it is about the Economics of wellbeing and the virtue of thrift. Most important of all, Education for Sustainable Development is also about improving the learning outcomes of children who are currently underachieving. Inequality and underachievement provide a significant barrier to sustainable development and this has been identified as a major priority in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. References are provided at the end of this posting to free to download resources that provide more detailed explanations and rationale.

Education for Sustainable Citizenship in Early Childhood (ESCEC) draws upon the logic of the Convention on the Rights of the Child which requires us to consult the child on all matters that affect them. In fact their future is the central concern of Sustainable Development, and we therefore believe they should be given a voice in determining this future. From the ESCEC perspective it is important for children to learn about the interdependency of humanity and nature, and about their interdependency with other people near and far. But it isn’t enough just to learn about the efforts being made in achieving a more peaceful and sustainable world, in adopting a ‘rights’ perspective it is clear that children also need to be involved in contributing to these efforts.