The Global Search for Sustainable Schools (GSSS) has been carried out as one of the global initiatives under the SLE programme. The GSSS programme recognises the central role of education in creating the enabling conditions to achieve sustainable lifestyles within planetary boundaries. Education directly
develops the leaders and innovators of tomorrow, fostering the critical skills of life-long, active learning that are necessary to achieving healthy, flourishing, and just lifestyles that facilitate limiting climate change to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Nine countries from around the world were selected to participate in the GSSS. As was discussed above, it is vital to develop capacities at the individual, organizational and societal scales to enable more responsible and reliable patterns of living. These capacities are essential for creating truly sustainable
societies. The GSSS aimed to mainstream sustainable lifestyles into formal education; make sustainable lifestyles the guiding principle in every learning environment; mobilise and empower youth, and promote sustainable lifestyles.
Coordinated by the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) and implemented by government agencies and national-scale NGOs in the nine participating countries, the GSSS called for schools to submit sustainability action plans. 84 schools were selected and were given grants to implement their ideas, turning their plans into more than 200 school-based sustainability projects with the support of experts from their countries and around the world.
Although all schools’ actions were severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and associated restrictive measures such as school closures and restriction of travel or meetings, all 84 schools in the nine implementing countries found innovative ways of continuing the work. They showed a high level of patience and creativity in learning from the crisis, flexibly adapting their actions to achieve the overall project goals, growing the capacities of students, teachers, and communities to make their schools, communities, and individual lives more sustainable and resilient.
This report summarises the overall experience of the GSSS, and key lessons learned through the implementation processes during the challenging situation presented by the global COVID-19 pandemic.