The Welsh Assembly Government is one of only a few governments in the world to have a legal duty with regard to sustainability and is at the core of policy making in Wales. There is a prime opportunity through the education system to ensure that all children in Wales are fully aware of the importance of sustainable living which they will take with them through life and pass on to other members of their families.
One Wales: One Planet (Welsh Assembly Government, 2009) states that ‘In Wales, sustainable development means enhancing the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of people and communities, achieving a better quality of life for our own and future generations: In ways which promote social justice and equality of opportunity; and In ways which enhance the natural and cultural environment and respect its limits—using only our fair share of the earth’s resources and sustaining our cultural legacy. Sustainable development is the process by which we reach the goal of sustainability.’ The aim is to reduce Wales’ ecological footprint to its global fair share within one generation.
When thinking of ‘sustainability’, the environment is often thought about first. However, it is generally accepted that there are three main pillars to sustainability:
When making a decision based on sustainability, all three aspects need to be taken into account, in order to make a balanced sustainable judgement.
Sustainability issues include:
- blue/green spaces;
These can impact both positively and negatively on each other.
In 2006 the Department for Education and Skills defined the concept of ‘sustainable school’ as ‘A sustainable school is guided by the principle of care: for oneself, care for each other (across cultures, distances and time) and care for the environment (far and near). Care breeds responsibility……Schools that involve pupils in the design of playing areas experience reduced incidents of bad behaviour, including bullying and vandalism. Little is wasted in a sustainable school. Surplus items are recycled, composted or donated. Health is taken seriously. Quality food and drink are sourced from local suppliers where possible, and pupils are encouraged to come to school by foot or bike. Diversity in the community is celebrated. Everyone is respected and valued.’
In 2005 the United Nations launched the decade of Education for Sustainable Development which emphasises that education is a critical element for achieving global sustainable development.