The future is being shaped today

It’s important to sensitise children to a sustainable approach to the environment and its resources and strengthen their awareness of this as soon as they start school and nursery. ‘Education for Sustainable Development in Germany’ (BNE) enables each of us to understand the impact of our own actions on the world and take responsible decisions
Photo: Stefan Wieland | Author: Isabel Korch & Nicole Erdmann | 2018/1


Whether our world continues to exist depends in part on treating our natural resources sustainably. This is why, for example, the topics of environmental awareness and sustainability are increasingly becoming the focus and determine our political, economic and ecological actions. 

It’s not only at school that we can work together to protect nature and biodiversity, for instance. The topic of sustainability is also relevant when dealing with small children and nurseries. One of the most current topics is climate change: The core societal debates of our time – such as how we supply ourselves with energy in the future – can only become accessible to children and students if they understand the connections between exploiting and using energy and global warming and its consequences. Topics like these therefore need to be in the timetable now and can also be integrated in everyday nursery life.

The PHORMiniS nursery in Hamburg has already been 

looking at the topics of energy and environmental resources for some time. Since 2017, the facility has also been a ‘KLIMAfuchs-Kita’. Nurseries with the status of climate expert fly the flag for climate protection. The ‘KLIMAfuchs’ project of the S.O.F. Save Our Future – Umweltstiftung helps nurseries to save energy and protect the environment, as well as showing the contribution they can make to climate protection.

‘Through the mutual exchange of ideas and methods, the project gives us an opportunity to refine our education mandate and include the topic of climate change,’ says Nicole Häusler, Head of Nursery at the Hamburg campus. ‘Input comes from the initiative in the form of ideas and materials, which we give life to ourselves,’ she adds.

Everyday life in the nursery offers varied points of reference for including topics like climate change and responsible resource management and making them accessible to children in lively and exciting educational programmes. Two educators at the Phorms Campus Hamburg were trained by the initiative to be climate experts and now organise various, age-appropriate projects on this topic. They disseminate this information to another 20 educators and also help implement ideas relating to the topic. 

For example, children played energy detectives and did an energy tour of the nursery, looking for electricity and anything related to energy. Inspired by the tour, they asked questions such as: Where does our electricity come from? How and where can we save electricity? Where is it indispensable? And what does ‘energy’ mean?

Helping the children look for energy, electrical equipment and ‘power guzzlers’ using a current measuring device creates an awareness of how important electricity is for the functioning of our everyday lives. Many devices even consume energy when we’re not actively using them.

Learning from each other: mutual energy revolution at home 

The ‘KLIMAfuchs’ nursery at the Phorms Campus Hamburg shows that debating sustainability, climate protection and energy can be fun. Happily, the impact is not restricted to the nursery: the children take the topics back to their families, thus ensuring that their parents also debate questions about sustainable development and are sensitised to topics which are relevant to the future.

Together, parents and children can keep on with the energy revolution in their own home. Simply deciding to use green electricity instead of nuclear power has a considerable impact on the ‘green portion’ of the entire electricity network. Green energy differs from conventional energy in that it generates far fewer climate gases and uses energy sources such as biomass, wind and water power. 

Spending time in nature with the children costs nothing and strengthens their relationship with nature and the environment over the long term. 

In the process, nature can have many indirect and positive effects on them. According to researcher Thomas Tanner, nature experiences can lead to a longer-term connection and to a personal commitment to nature. Together with colleagues, he surveyed environmentalists and activists about the influences that led them to protect the environment. In most cases, it was experiences they’d had with nature in their childhood or youth that had influenced them.

Ideally, contact with plants and animals anchors the ecological awareness of small nature lovers and paves the way for an active adult life focused on sustainability. So that the future can be shaped in the present from an early age.


Isabel Korch (CSR Manager) and Nicole Erdmann (editor) work for the charity shopping website Users shopping online can collect rewards for their own club at the same time and without any additional costs. Since this year, Schulengel has also been offering its own charity electricity tariff. People who subscribe to the tariff not only receive 100% green electricity but also a monthly cash reward for the club of their choice, which is automatically donated by the energy provider.

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Planting trees and investing in the future

In 50 years’ time, Kai, Sofia and Noelle still want to be able to sit outside surrounded by lush green trees. To help keep the world green for the next generation, the students at the Josef-Schwarz-Schule take part in an afternoon club planting trees and encouraging environmental awareness among their peers
Photos: Stefan Wieland | Author: Roxane Meger-Guingamp