Towards sustainable future
Improving skills related to sustainable development is essential for us all if we want to cope with the huge challenges brought by the climate change, increasing consumption of nature resources, decreasing of biodiversity, social problems, and development issues in many countries of the world. Schools and educational establishments have an important mission in supporting the growth of their students as environmentally and socially responsible and skilled citizens who are able to consider the aspects of sustainable development in their work and everyday lives.
In Finland, the Finnish National Commission on Sustainable Development and the Ministry of Education have elaborated national strategies of education for sustainable development (2006). According to the targets of these strategies, all schools and educational establishments have sustainable development programmes by 2010, and 15% of schools and educational establishments have been certified for their sustainability work by 2014. From 2015 onwards, the certification target has been promoted through the national Society’s Commitment to Sustainable Development. Sustainable development is also incorporated in the national core curricula of general and vocational education.
Year 2000, Trade Union of Education in Finland OAJ took the initiative in preparing environmental criteria to help schools and educational establishments in their work for sustainable development. Environmental criteria and a certification system were developed in the Life Environment project Envedu (2001-2004), which received financial support from the European Commission and the Finnish Ministry of the Environment.
The participants in the project were the Trade Union of Education in Finland OAJ, the OKKA Foundation, National Board of Education, Hyvinkää-Riihimäki Vocational Adult Education Centre, SYKLI Environmental School of Finland, University of Oulu, University of Joensuu and Cooperative Eco-One. From 2004 onwards, the OKKA Foundation has been responsible for the management of the certification system.
Sustainable development criteria
During 2010, the environmental criteria and certification system were extended to cover the environmental, economic, social and cultural aspects of sustainability. The development work was done by The OKKA Foundation, Hyria Education, SYKLI Environmental School of Finland and Cooperative Eco-One with scientific expert assistance of the researchers from the Faculty of Educational Sciences in University of Helsinki.