Celebrating the 30th Anniversary

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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

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