Planning a Sustainable School - Driving school improvement through sustainable development

Summary April 2008 Gov't DCSF publication

"What do we mean by sustainable development?

Sustainable development is a way of thinking about how we organise our lives and work – including our education system –so that we don’t destroy our most precious resource, the planet. From over-fishing to global warming, our way of life is placing an increasing burden on the planet, which cannot be sustained. Things which were once taken for granted, such as a secure supply of energy or a stable climate, do not look so permanent now. If our prosperity is tied to the health of the planet, then no-one’s well-being is secure unless the environment is protected. If we cannot prosper in a world that suffers from poverty, inequality, war and poor health, then our future is intimately bound up in the future of other people and places. Sustainable development means inspiring people in all parts of the world to find solutions that improve their quality of life without storing up problems for the future, or impacting unfairly on other peoples’ lives. It must be much more than recycling bottles or giving money to charity. It is about thinking and working in a profoundly different way.

The two sides of sustainable schools

The agreed definition of sustainable development – the so called Bruntland definition – is “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” – in other words, without undermining the world’s ecological balance. While this definition provides a useful starting point, schools that have begun thinking about sustainable development will have found that different people often interpret it in different ways. Prescribed actions, like recycling, reducing our carbon footprint, or Fair Trade, are responses to the way we view our current situation. However, in a rapidly changing world, we cannot be sure that these same measures will be enough or even the right thing to do in the future. At the same time we know that there are a range of things we can all be doing to improve our prospects. In this context, schools are challenged to consider how they will address two different, but complementary sides to sustainable development. "

Read about the TWO sides in the original or an extract as a word .doc download.