Young people are increasingly confronted with alarming environmental reports on global issues such as global warming and the extinction of species. They are also told about more localised threats and issues, for example algal blooms in the Baltic Sea. The media and the internet make these issues part of the daily input of young people.
There is evidence of Swedish children feeling anxious and fearful about these matters, which seem to be happening totally outside of their control. They do not always have an opportunity to discuss these issues or to think about what they can do to make a difference rather than simply being afraid.
There are practical environmental objectives that can provide a framework for raising awareness of the possibility for environmental action. The Swedish government has set up 16 Swedish environmental objectives which are to be achieved by 2020. They are an extension of the EU?s environmental objectives.
The overall objective of the COM-U project was to create a well informed generation of people that have the tools and the power to act and to solve environmental issues.
Specifically, the project hoped to raise the awareness of 260 000 children and young people on the EU?s environment policy through an awareness raising campaign via schools. This campaign was expected to be sustainable and democratic and to provide an example that could be transferred to other EU states.
The COM-U project was able to reach 29 000 teachers and 340 000 children in Sweden with information around EU environmental policy and related issues. It has made an important contribution to enhancing the teaching of environmental issues to provide a more balanced and practical view of the challenges and possible actions to be taken to address them.
The project developed and produced training material and aids and arranged training for nearly 30 000 teachers and other school staff. The project also reached more than 600 stakeholders mainly comprising municipal school administrations, teachers? organisations and environmental interest groups. Information on web conferences and web-based material was sent to all headmasters. The training and information focused on how to integrate environmental issues into the school curricula. The project set up a nationwide network of coordinators to deliver this work and to promote the issues beyond the project.
The project delivered:
The project contributed to 1 200 schools and pre-schools joining the Swedish Eco-Schools programme, which is run independently of the LIFE project by the beneficiary. The results of the project will also be used to promote the Green Flag environmental certification system. The results of the project have been made available to a large number of stakeholders. The project website is a popular media to pass the message further and contains the teaching and information materials produced by the project.
As an ultimate impact the beneficiary estimates that nearly 350 000 school children would be reached by the project?s actions and better informed and educated about issues related to EU environmental policy. This number is calculated from the schools, administrators and teachers in the loop of the project. Long term environmental benefits can be expected from the increased knowledge and awareness of this and future generations.