Why should I teach sustainability?

Sustainability education can be fun, engaging and empowering for students. It allows them to take responsibility for their actions and to contribute their vision for a sustainable future. It enables them to develop knowledge, skills, values and motivations for action, allowing them to maintain their own wellbeing – and that of their community and the planet – in an increasingly interconnected world.

In December of 2008 the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians was produced and agreed upon by all Australian Education Ministers. The Melbourne Declaration acknowledged that major changes in the world are placing new demands on Australian education. It identified key areas to be addressed for the benefit of the entire Australian community.

The Melbourne Declaration identified sustainability as one of these key areas to be addressed, recognising the importance of sustainable patterns of living.

The Australian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (ACARA) was then established, and the development of the Australian Curriculum began, with sustainability incorporated as a cross-curriculum priority across all curriculum areas. Sustainability is not a separate subject – it is embedded across all relevant learning areas.

For the purposes of the Australian Curriculum, sustainability is not limited to environmental sustainability and is therefore more wide-ranging and applicable across the curriculum. 

Prioritising sustainability is recognition that – as teachers, parents and a community – we all work to ensure that our children and students have bright futures. Our students live in an era of many challenges to the complex environmental systems that provide support for all life on our planet.

The future of each student in every classroom is reason enough for teachers and schools to start the journey towards sustainability.