Raising Children’s Awareness of Sustainable Development



Policy areas

Organisation name Mestna občina Ljubljana (City of Ljubljana)

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Contact person: Melita Oven, Head of Projects Section at the Department for Education


The City of Ljubljana has developed a project in collaboration with teachers and school principals where savings from the energy efficiency of renovated buildings are invested. This investment is in educational programmes and has a specific purpose: building awareness among the young generation around sustainable development, environmental protection and alternative resources. This is to encourage their creativity and innovativeness, and to equip them with the knowledge and the skills necessary nowadays to cope with environmental challenges.

The young generation increasingly feels the burden of environmental issues such as limited resources, climate change and the need for renewable sources of energy. The City of Ljubljana’s programme, ‘Raising Children’s Awareness of Sustainable Development’ aims to enrich the educational process in primary schools and kindergartens. It provides content and innovative teaching methods that directly contribute towards higher awareness among children about the need for higher energy efficiency, rational use of resources and sustainable development. In this way, the pupils are provided with the tools needed to cope with certain pressing issues, for example, strategies for saving resources and the consequences of such efforts.

The project goes beyond this and aspires to train future generations on rational use of energy, water and other resources through direct experience, using natural sciences, scientific research, technical professions and manual skills so their innovativeness and creativity are stimulated. This can finally develop their capacity for self-initiated tackling of challenges and exploring the opportunities in school, local and global spaces.

The project also envisages training programmes for teachers such as ecology, sustainability and alternative resources to provide them with more practical knowledge. Such training will enable them, depending on the school grade, to implement innovative educational activities with innovative teaching approaches. It will enrich the regular teaching process in schools, and develop and use the didactic games and experiments to introduce pre-school children to the field of ecology.

In Ljubljana the programme started in 2018 and the city allocated 10% of the savings, which are the result of improved energy efficiency of renovated buildings. At that time, the savings amounted to €56 000. Since then, the number of buildings renovated and retrofitted has risen and so have the savings. In 2020, the city allocated €83 000 for the programmes. Such a model is financially sustainable since the city plans numerous building renovations for years ahead, so savings will undoubtedly be rising every year. However, the weakness of the model is that it depends on political support. Therefore, if the city and its leaders are not in favour of the savings going to such programmes, the model cannot be sustained.

In Ljubljana, current city leaders and the city administration are very much inclined to financing different extracurricular programmes for children; they are aware that investing is children is the best investment for our common future. According to Slovenian jurisdiction, the city is a founder of kindergartens and primary schools. Therefore, cooperation between these stakeholders is already self-evident. Since civil society is one of the pillars of democracy, the city also cooperates closely with NGOs. The programmes under ‘Raising Children’s Awareness of Sustainable Development’ are an example of good practice, where different stakeholders work together for a common goal.

Between 2018 and 2020, 645 pre-school children and 5671 primary school students participated in the programme. In addition, 46 kindergarten educators were trained in the development and use of didactical tools for teaching efficient use of resources and sustainability. So far, the programmes have been implemented in 36 out of 47 public primary schools and in 4 out of 23 public kindergartens in Ljubljana.

The majority of children have basic knowledge about responsible use of resources, about recycling and energy solutions, but they are often not aware of the objectives and consequences of such actions. Teachers report that after children participate in the programme, they note higher understanding of and knowledge about sustainable solutions among them. Many children also seek opportunities to participate in other educational activities related to sustainable development.

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