FEE's Nicole Andreou recognised as an Environmental Educator Leader

We are excited to announce that the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) has recognised Nicole Andreou, our International Eco-Schools Coordinator as an EE 30 Under 30 for her work with the Foundation for Environmental Education. The award recognises young leaders using Environmental Education to build sustainable communities, and so we are thrilled that Nicole has now joined this inspiring community.

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The fact that children aged three or ten, elementary school or university students, all take the lead every single day to make an impact has been fascinating to observe and certainly gives me a lot of energy

EE 30 Under 30 was created in 2016 to recognise exemplary young professionals who are harnessing the power of education to create a more sustainable future. The Class of 2019 contributes to this network of leaders by addressing social and environmental issues ranging from mobilising students for climate action to mitigating tensions between humans and wildlife.

Nicole's work empowers students to lead sustainable lifestyles and promotes access quality education through education for sustainable development.

To read the full story please click here.

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Interview with PhD Researcher Alicia Mateos Cárdenas

Alicia Mateos Cardenas is a PhD researcher at the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences in UCC and a member of UCC Green Campus. Alicia’s research is funded by the Environmental Protection Agency and looks at the impact of microplastics in the freshwater environment. Alicia also has international experience in marine projects such as loggerhead turtle conservation in Cape Verde and plastic pollution environmental education in the Galápagos islands.

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What is your research about?

I am researching microplastic pollution, its uptake by freshwater organisms and the potential toxic effects that they might have. My PhD project is mainly focussed on testing microplastics similar to cosmetic microbeads and clothing microfibres and their interaction with aquatic plants and small crustaceans. I am also very interested in the transfer of microplastics through the aquatic food chain.

What do you hope to accomplish with your research?

We know that marine plastic pollution has its major source in land and also that rivers, for example, not only act as plastic transport vector but also as a sink. Before I started my PhD, about two years ago, the majority of the attention had been focussed on the oceans. That is the reason why my research has a freshwater focus. We are answering specific questions that hopefully will lead to a better understanding of the potential toxicity.

What could be the potential benefits?

As a researcher, I hope that my results will help advancing the scientific knowledge in the area. For example, we have shown that aquatic plants can adhere microplastics on their surface which then may be passed to consumers. It would be very interesting to see monitoring studies also sampling plant species for the presence of microplastics. Additionally, my PhD project has a very unique societal aspect too. We are funded by the Irish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with which we hold biannual progress meetings. They thoroughly track our progress and are very interested in our results. The outcomes of the project will inform their environmental policies.

What research is already out there on this subject? How will this research move things forward?

Plastic pollution research has grown exponentially over the last decade, however there are still important uncertainties related to the understanding of microplastic toxicity. With what we know so far, microplastics might not pose a physical threat to organisms, though they may act as vector of some other toxic chemicals. The problem could potentially be with nanoplastics, which are particles small enough to pass through and accumulate in cells.

Will be research be published and where?

Actually our first scientific publication “Polyethylene microplastics adhere to Lemna minor (L.), yet have no effects on plant growth or feeding by Gammarus duebeni (Lillj.)” was published very recently in the scientific journal Science of the Total Environment as part of their special issue on Environmental Plastics. We plan to publish further work in the form of publications in other scientific journals. There will also be an EPA report summarising our main findings, this will be published once the project is finished.

UCC Green Campus is part of FEE EcoCampus and Eco-Schools and is one of five programmes administrated by the Foundation for Environmental Education.

Earth Overshoot Day is earlier than ever this year

With Earth Overshoot Day occurring ever earlier in the year, and a big part of it being the growing amounts of CO2 emissions, the importance of decisive action is becoming ever more evident. For this reason, we are working with all parties to find effective approaches.

María Carolina Schmidt Zaldívar
Minister of Environment, Chile, and chair of the Climate COP25 scheduled this December in Santiago de Chile

Today is Earth Overshootday. A country’s overshoot day is the date on which Earth Overshoot Day would fall if all of humanity consumed like the people in the individual countries below.

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Together we can make a difference.

Click here for the Earth Overshoot day website.

Governments agree to strengthen climate education and public engagement

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Governments meeting during the June UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn (SB50) agreed on a draft decision to significantly strengthen climate education, awareness and public engagement, which are crucial to achieving the goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees and to scale-up Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) implementation. The decision will be formally adopted at the UN Climate Change Conference in Chile in December.

To read the full story click here

Slovakia celebrates ten years of YRE with multiple wins in 2019 competition

Slovakia has been part of the Young Reporters for the Environment programme since 2009. This year in our YRE International Competiton they received multiple awards, so to honour their successes we spoke to National Operator Klaudia Medalová.

What does the YRE Competition mean to you as an organisation?

A lot. YRE is one of the 4 pillars of our NGO, the other three being policies for the development of environmental education in Slovakia, knowledge and skills for a sustainable future on an individual level (organic farming, natural gardening, zero waste etc.), and implementation of Agenda 21 principles in the development of our city, Trenčín (nature conservation, bicycle paths etc.)

It's great that Young Reporters for the Environment in some way connect all of our programmes. YRE competition provides young people skills to be mindful of where one lives, in cooperation with educators and experts they explore sustainability solutions, and through investigative environmental journalism our reporters increase the sensitivity of local politicians and the public to environmental issues.

Young Reporters cover the local and organic food fair organized by our NGO in Trenčín

Young Reporters cover the local and organic food fair organized by our NGO in Trenčín

And, in the case of this year's stunning success, the YRE competition also means a lot of attention from involved schools, students, their parents, and all environmental activists. Perhaps the day will come when the media will show interest in the results as well. For the moment, we haven't caught up with Greta Thunberg.

On the other hand, we were very pleasantly surprised that our international success was noticed by President Zuzana Caputova. She invited the winners with their teachers to her residence in the Grassalkovich Palace.  In her speech she showed great respect for the YRE programme:

It is thanks to the combination of environmental protection, honest journalism and active citizenship that the “Young Environmental Reporters” programme is unique and worthy of wider attention
President Zuzana Caputova
The international winners, their teachers, YRE Slovakia team, and the President in the middle (yellow dress) Photo credit for the photo Marián Garaj (the Office of the President)

The international winners, their teachers, YRE Slovakia team, and the President in the middle (yellow dress)
Photo credit for the photo Marián Garaj (the Office of the President)

How do you celebrate your winners?

We always plan our field workshop around June 5th so that we are together when the press release about international YRE winners is released.

This year, on the actual day of June 5th, we went on a hike with a National Park ranger. He explained the main issues of nature conservation in that part of the West Tatra mountains, and provided the students with a few interviews on the topics they chose to report on that day.

We announced the results right after climbing the gorge, shortly after noon. The awards for Slovak entries were so numerous that in the eyes of most students and teachers we could see the question: Is this even possible? At the end of the workshop, we celebrated our success with a cake.

YRE Slovakia winners, teachers, and team celebrating their success on the 5th June

YRE Slovakia winners, teachers, and team celebrating their success on the 5th June

Could you tell me why you think students are so good at following YRE methodology in Slovakia?

At the beginning of each school year we run a YRE seminar for new schools. We invite one teacher and three students per school. We explain the YRE 4-step methodology, and assign an autumn task for small school projects. In two months, students have to choose a local topic (related to their school or community), investigate, write an article, and upload it on the YRE Slovakia website. Before their entries are published, they receive feedback, and if necessary, they are asked to redesign the article in accordance with correct journalistic style.

Since the start of the programme, we have been working with media and environmental professionals. Our experienced reporters develop their skills mostly in field workshops, are organised in June (a 4-day stay). Here, they become experts on a particular environmental theme, depending on the workshop site (Zoo, National Parks etc.). Every day they create reports (a photo with a label or a video) and receive feedback from experts on their work published on social networks.

We pay great attention to the competition throughout the whole school year. From the possibility to consult on topic selection, through suggesting an expert who can provide an interview, up to translations by a native (bilingual) speaker.

Last but not least, we have an excellent jury, whose members not only take the time to evaluate the competition entries, but also to meet in person, and select winners with potential for international awards.

To find out more about YRE Slovakia click here. Here you can see a short video from the visit to the President made by Matej Majerský.

YRE Is one of five programmes administrated by the Foundation for Environmental Education.

FEE wins Best Non-Profit Organisation at SDG Tech Awards

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At the inaugural SDG Tech Awards Show in Copenhagen to celebrate technology and the sustainable development goals, the Foundation for Environmental Education has won the accolade of best Non-Profit organisation.

With 250 attendees all with the same mission: To promote the UN SDGs the inspiring evening boasted winners from ground breaking start-ups, large corporates, promising academic research and NGOs.

“We are very happy to hand over this prize to FEE. Education plays a key role in the process of the sustainable transformation that the world is faced with. The Foundation for Environmental Education brings together a great variety of programmes in partnership with other organisations across the world to educate and empower thousands of young game changers across the continents,” says Human Shojaee, President Sustainary.

With an esteemed panel of judges that included Danish Industry, UNICEF, UNEP, Danish Chamber of Commerce and Copenhagen Business School there were fifteen categories and 200 nominees.

We are honoured to have been chosen as this year’s best non-profit organisation. We have been working diligently towards incorporating the SDGs into our five programmes and so to be recognised for our work is a testimony to our members and all those on the ground making a difference every day, as we strive towards a more sustainable world,

CEO Daniel Schaffer
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Sustainary (www.sustainary.org ) who organised the awards show is a global platform for innovation, dedicated to the implementation of sustainable technologies that have the United Nations Development Goals as the focus. The organisation, based in Copenhagen, Denmark, brings together technology solutions based on academic research and practical projects from universities and R & D centers around the globe. By identifying and mapping these solutions, Sustainary connects with companies, investors, entrepreneurs, designers, NGOs, public authorities and other relevant stakeholders so that the initiative can be implemented in practice.

Josh and Max Kamalarajah: winners of YRE Competition for two years running!

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We feel incredibly lucky to have won two years in a row because all the entries were so good

For the past two years, brothers Josh and Max Kamalarajah from Wallace High School in Lisburn, Northern Ireland have had winning entries in the annual YRE International Competition. In 2018 they both won first prize for their Litter Less Campaign video “Food Waste” and this year for best photograph (11-14 yr-old) “It’s time for wake up to the problem of plastic!“ in the Litter Less Campaign.

Quite an achievement! So FEE Head Office decided we wanted to know more about these inspiring brothers and why environmental issues are so important to them?

How does it feel to be a winner both last year and this year?

Josh: Amazing! We just couldn’t believe it.

Max: Yes, we have really enjoyed looking at all the national winning entries from all over the world on the YRE Exposure Page. It must have been a tough decision for the judges.

How did you come up with the idea for this year’s winning photograph?

Josh: We wanted to create a photograph that evoked powerful emotions and made people stop and think. We thought that a child buried in plastic would be an immediate attention grabber.

In order to produce the photograph however, we started to collect all the plastic that we used at home from before Christmas until February this year. We asked our aunts and uncles and grandparents to do the same. The results of this exercise were horrifying! Cumulatively, we had gathered enough plastic to bury a child alive!

Max: As a family we had shamefully been oblivious to the sheer quantities of plastic that we were using. That’s when we came up with the idea of the visual metaphor of a child sleeping peacefully in bed blissfully unaware of the dangerous plastic duvet piling up around them just as many of us are closing our eyes to the devastating effects that plastic pollution is having on our planet.

 We acknowledged that it was “Time to wake up to the problem of plastic!” and we hope that our photograph might open other people’s eyes to the magnitude and reality of our planet’s plastic problem.

1st Place (Liter Less Campaign Photo)  Title:  It's time to wake up to the problem of plastic!  Country: Northern Ireland

1st Place (Liter Less Campaign Photo)
Title: It's time to wake up to the problem of plastic!
Country: Northern Ireland

How did you come up with the idea of last year’s winning video?

Josh: In 2018 The Northern Ireland Litter Less Campaign team made “Food Waste” the theme of the National YRE competition. During our research the uncovering of statistics such as “1.3 billion tonnes of food, enough to feed 3 billion people, is wasted ever year” was enough to make us believe that food wastage is a crime against humanity. This gave us the idea of making a campaign video in the form of a crime report.

Max: We added some humour to capture our audience’s attention but at the same time challenged the viewer to consider whether they were the hero or the villain when it comes to food wastage.

Winning video ‘Food Waste’ from Litter Less Campaign, 2018 YRE International competition

Winning video ‘Food Waste’ from Litter Less Campaign, 2018 YRE International competition

Have you been doing any other activities within the Litter Less Campaign?

 Josh and Max: Last year we were invited to give a talk on the second SDG, “Global Hunger”, at the Green-Schools Global Goals Conference in Dublin and we have participated in a beach and park clean up through the Litter Less Campaign. We have also attended excellent workshops on environmental issues organised by eco-schools-ni.

What advice would you give to other young people who are interested in getting involved in environmental issues?

Josh and Max: We would say go for it - get involved now! It is imperative that young people play a key role in protecting the future of this wonderful planet that they are hoping to enjoy for years to come. Don’t underestimate the difference you can make by being an environmental role model at home, in your school or in your local community. Collecting plastic for our photograph served to highlight the extent of plastic usage within our own family circle and subsequently encouraged change. As a start we would recommend YRE. It is an amazing opportunity to be a reporter and raise awareness of environmental issues on a world stage. Small ripples can make big waves!

We would say go for it - get involved now! As a start we would recommend YRE

When it comes to looking after nature who are your heroes and why?

 Josh: Greta Thunberg is one of our environmental heroes. She has proven that age is not a barrier to being determined, being heard and creating change.

Max: Closer to home we have been inspired by amazing teachers who care deeply about nature. In primary school Mrs Jackson who ran our Eco-Committee stimulated our initial enthusiasm. She encouraged us to speak out at Environmental Youth Speak (organised by LCCC) from the age of 10. At Wallace High School Miss McKee has continued to inspire and support us and suggested that we enter the YRE competition.


From left to right Barbara McKee, Josh Kamalarajah, Ruth Van Ry from Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, Max Kamalarajah and Angela Boyle from Wrigley at the Council Chamber of North Down and Ards Council in Bangor, co. Down.

From left to right Barbara McKee, Josh Kamalarajah, Ruth Van Ry from Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, Max Kamalarajah and Angela Boyle from Wrigley at the Council Chamber of North Down and Ards Council in Bangor, co. Down.

YRE Is one of five programmes administrated by the Foundation for Environmental Education.

Malta win multiple awards at this year's YRE International Competition

Since 2007 Malta been part of the YRE programme and at this year’s International YRE Competition won many awards in different categories. So what is their recipe for success?

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Litter is a big issue in Malta and getting schools involved in such a topical theme is quite easy

What does the YRE Competition mean to you as an organisation?

We focus more on YRE as a programme rather than a competition. We believe the work of everyone should be recognised and we encourage a team spirit atmosphere. We therefore label all competition entries as Participation, Commended, Finalists, Honourable Mentions and Winners - thus giving credit to all those who participate and produce good work. We invite everyone for the final ceremony and celebrate all together. 

How do you celebrate your winners?

We announce them during the Annual YRE Awards - usually the 5th or 6th June, and invite the Hon. Minister to present them. Media is always present, and we are on TV and newspapers most of the time.  We award them with trophies and cash vouchers when finances allow. Other incentives for winners include invitations to turtle releases (by NTM) and invitations to opportunities to go abroad when possible. 

With four winners in the Litter Less campaign categories how do you go about maintaining interest in covering litter issues?

Litter is a big issue in Malta - and getting schools involved in such a topical theme is quite easy. However they do get more motivated by the financial help we give them - and of course the funds make it possible to provide other incentives such as more visits, Missions and the aid from abroad. 

For the next two years, I would like to launch a common target for all participating schools (e.g. cigarette butts) and make more impact with the joint energy of all schools. Plans are still in the pipeline though.

YRE Is one of five programmes administrated by the Foundation for Environmental Education.

Interview: Head of the French International School Cousteau Alain Delaune

The French International School Cousteau received a personal message from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau!! for their Eco-Schools accreditation ceremony after becoming the first Eco-School in Canada.

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I see the Eco-Schools accreditation process as priceless, as it gives students a strong voice

What impact did it have at the school to receive a personal letter from the Prime Minister?

 A wow effect among students! They could not believe that the Prime Minister would pay attention to what they had accomplished....we are a small school!

It was another way for them to realize that their accomplishments had some "value" in the adult world, and they were not only proud, but they felt really empowered.

 You are now the first accredited Eco-School in Canada – why did you decide to take up this challenge?

It is my first year at this school, I moved from Mexico a few months ago. While the school was in the process of hiring me, everyone talked a lot about "their" Eco-Schools project. I could feel that Eco-School was the most shared element of the school's life for the last two years. If memory serves, the initiative was started by the Scientific Attaché at the French Consulate in 2016. I think that this particular school community has had ecology and planet protection in its genes since the beginning, so moving forward with Eco-Schools was something natural.

 What have been the benefits for the school and the pupils?

More than the goals only, I see the Eco-Schools accreditation process as priceless, as it gives students a strong voice. It teaches them to structure their thoughts and plan actions accordingly. It teaches them to listen to each other, and to come to agreements. And, for a small international school like ours, it helps us foster internationally minded students: they realize that, despite their differences, they are part of one humanity by setting themselves shared goals that will impact the world, not only their community.

 How have you engaged the surrounding community?

 The flag ceremony was an opportunity to go public and invite the local community. Also, during the past two years, students were engaged in actions towards the community, of course.

 What are the schools ambitions for your next Green Flag?

To engage more with the surrounding community, to open our doors  and to develop more service learning opportunities.

 What advice would you give to other schools in Canada considering taking the Eco-Schools accreditation?

Dare to give students a voice in your school, dare to let them fail at times. And, have fun!

Eco-Schools Is one of five programmes administrated by the Foundation for Environmental Education.

FEE Storytelling and Social Media Manual

The FEE Storytelling and Social Media Manual is now ready and available on Podio and here.

FEE loves to tell a compelling story and find the human angle, so we can showcase the wonderful hands-on work that we do everyday across the world. We are all about creating a more sustainable society, and so this manual offers tips and guidance on how to gain press attention. With advice on how to write news stories and press releases, how to make smart videos, and how to maximise your social media platforms, we thought we would share this manual with everyone to give inspiration to all those who are also interested in creating a more sustainable world.

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2018 FEE Annual Report

The Foundation for Environmental Education has just published its Annual Report for 2018. As always, the developments, achievements and impacts on both national and international level of all FEE programmes are displayed in our latest publication.

In 2018, we have grown across the world reinforcing our truly global presence, strengthened by its geographic, social and cultural diversity. Therefore, we would like to thank all people involved within our network: you are the heart of our organisation!

Check it out!

FEE Board visit Mexico

By Member of the Board - Nikos Petrou

This was the first meeting of the Board of Directors for 2019, and the first physical meeting after the constitution of the new Board since last year’s Riga General Assembly. It was held in Mexico in order to support our newly established member there, FFE Mexico. The meeting was attended by all Board members (with the exception of our President who had other pressing commitments).

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While in Mexico we had the opportunity to verify the excellent quality and high standards of Blue Flag beaches and marinas, as well as Green Key hotels, through on site visits, and talk with hotel and beach managers and representatives of local and state and federal government, highlighting our support of the national operator.

Presenting the award for best GK hotel renovation at the annual meeting of the Grupo POSADAS, the largest hotel operator in Mexico.

Presenting the award for best GK hotel renovation at the annual meeting of the Grupo POSADAS, the largest hotel operator in Mexico.

We were all impressed by the drive and commitment of FEE Mexico CEO Joaquin Diaz and his staff, who have managed, in little over a year, to increase the numbers of beaches, marinas, hotels and schools participating in the programmes, including a notable 153 Green Key hotels. We were equally impressed by their excellent working relationship with local managers and administrators, and by the trust and respect shown by the latter towards FEE programmes.

Meeting of FEE BoD with Los Cabos mayor (speaking), representatives of federal and state Tourism Ministries, and representatives of local tourism industry.

Meeting of FEE BoD with Los Cabos mayor (speaking), representatives of federal and state Tourism Ministries, and representatives of local tourism industry.

The generous and warm hospitality extended by our hosts throughout the visit was certainly one of its highlights. For me, however, the most memorable moment was on the last, optional, day of the trip, when we visited a marine protected area in the Sea of Cortez established for the protection of the rare whale sharks. There we had the opportunity to witness sustainable management in practice, with strictly controlled ecotouristic activities benefiting the local community, generating funds for conservation and ensuring safety and survival of the whale sharks. A highly successful example, truly in the FEE spirit.





FEE Head Office helps clean up after Red Cross Sale

For the fourth year in a row, FEE Head Office staff donated half a day to help clean up after the annual Red Cross sale that takes place every December in Copenhagen.

Every year, Danish companies give us their excess clothes and accessories instead of burning them, and we promise to sell these items only during our sale and not in our shops. Danes get a chance to buy expensive brands at very affordable prices and afterwards any remaining items are then sent abroad or recycled for fibers,” says Majken Rydstrøm Johansen from the Red Cross.

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In just eight hours of sales over two days, Red Cross made a staggering amount of money for good causes. “This year we made 461,00 DKK (60,000 Euros) for our work in Denmark and for our operations worldwide,” adds Majken Rydstrøm Johansen.

At FEE we believe in giving back, so that is why we choose every year to donate half a day out of our busy schedule to help with a worthy cause,” says CEO Daniel Schaffer.

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FEE at COP 24

FEE at COP 24

Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) is once again highly active at the COP. Every year our engagement grows and we are proud to be part of this highly important conference and to contribute to the discussions and actions to help mitigate and adapt to Climate Change.

Together with UNFCCC and UNESCO, FEE is organizing two special events at COP 24. Read more about them here.