08.07.2016 - Education Sector

Big plans, growth and legitimacy – update from winners of 2015 UNESCO ‘green’ prize

© UNESCO - Informal lunch discussions during the workshop for the 2015 prize-winners

“For a small organization the prize money has gained us space to breathe and think,” said Felix Spira, of rootAbility, speaking of the changes brought about as one of the three award winners of the 2015 UNESCO-Japan Prize on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD).

The three 2015 laureates: Asociación SERES from Guatemala/El Salvador; Jayagiri Centre from Indonesia; and rootAbility from Germany reflected on their win during a workshop at UNESCO Headquarters, Paris on July 7, 2016.

The prize selects outstanding projects which inspire and empower youth to create more sustainable lifestyles through individual and collective activities and commitment and comes with three awards of USD 50,000.

Beautiful chance to connect youth

Asociación SERES, which empowers and educates youth to build and lead healthy, just and sustainable communities, is dreaming big with plans to build a ‘Communiversity’ on 25 acres of land they have acquired. Representative Corinna Grace said: “It would be a regional resilience hub, a sustainable campus that would unite students from developed and developing world around ESD. It’s a beautiful opportunity to connect youth.”

Tintin Kartini, Focal Point from Jayagiri Centre, which works from within the Ministry of Education and Culture in Indonesia to develop and implement ESD learning models and programmes in local communities, said they had used part of the money to support lab sites for six locations running different ESD programmes with local people taking ownership.

Already running are projects involving recycling of garbage to make oil and gas and puppet making and training in use of puppets to spread ESD messages, and mushroom and flower production. She said interest had grown in their activities since the prize and had inspired other similar centres in the country to expand their ESD focus. For the future they hope to integrate ESD into Early Childhood Education programmes.

Simple sustainability messages for children

“We hope to help children internalise simple message like switch off lights, turn off water at an early age,” she said.

Felix Spira from rootAbility, which inspires students to make their universities more sustainable through the Green Office model, said they had invested in publicity materials including a newsletter and had been able to employ staff who had previously volunteered. Mostly they had gained legitimacy.

“When we approach people we are no longer just a group of young people. They can see the potential,” he said.

They had also gained vital time to prepare a larger funding application and to scale-up their model to other European countries and potentially other spheres of education.

“Frankly the impact has been amazing,” he said.  

The three winners are also Key Partners of UNESCO’s Global Action Programme on ESD (GAP) and the workshop followed a two-day meeting of the Partners Networks to review success and share scaling-up ideas in the light of the Global Education Agenda.


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