Top 10 shortlist for

Environmental Action

Discover the schools named in the Top 10 shortlist for the World’s Best School Prize for Environmental Action

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About the World's Best School Prize for Environmental Action

From treasuring water to re-foresting. From carbon zero to repurposing. From green in the core to leadership for change. Recognising the schools which are acting forth climate change in these and other ways by having the students powering through the intricacies of change.

Meet the Top 10 shortlisted schools

Alqubaiba High Elementary Girls School

📍 North West Jerusalem, Palestine

Bonuan Buquig National High School

📍 Dagupan City, Philippines

Ecole Secondaire Lacombe Composite High School

📍 Lacombe, Canada

Escuela Técnica N°8 Paula Albarracín de Sarmiento

📍 Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, Argentina

GEMS Legacy School

📍 Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Green School Bali

📍 Bali, Indonesia

Institución Educativa El Castillo

📍 Barrancabermeja, Colombia

International School of Zug and Luzern

📍 Zug, Switzerland

Laboratory of Special Vocational Education of Agios Dimitrios

📍 Athens, Greece

Nachitukula Primary School

📍 Phalombe, Malawi

Diseño sin título (38)
Alqubaiba High Elementary Girls School

📍 North West Jerusalem, Palestine

🏫 Government school

👥 201 to 300 kindergarten and primary students

Teaching students to treasure water

Alqubaiba High Elementary Girls School, an all-girls school in Al-Qubeiba, West Bank, Palestine, was recognised as having the best environmental science club in the state of Palestine. 

Situated opposite the famous monastery of Emmaus at a site, which has long seen the peaceful co-existence between Muslim and Christian residents, the school is committed to environmental sustainability. 

Its environmental club came into being through a democratic process with students elected to run it and plan its activities. The club has worked on projects to recycle water by irrigating the school garden and it educates students on the need to rationalise water consumption. Another project has seen it create food free from chemicals by recycling garden waste. 

If Alqubaiba High Elementary Girls School were to win the World’s Best School Prize for Environmental Action, it would use the funds to install a laboratory that would allow for the club to conduct advanced projects and experiments. It would also use the money to build a model environment garden with sustainable properties.

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Diseño sin título (39)
Bonuan Buquig National High School

📍 Dagupan City, Philippines

🏫 Government school

👥 2000+ secondary students

Why a school stepped in to save the mangroves

Bonuan Buquig National High School, a public secondary school in Dagupan City, Philippines, decided to take action to replant lost mangroves to reverse the environmental devastation impacting its students who mostly live near fish ponds and coastal areas.

In 2009, Typhoon Pepeng left two-thirds of Dagupan City submerged in flood water. Fishponds, rice fields, and other industries in the community were heavily damaged. The city government of Dagupan, aware of its geographical challenges on land that is only one metre above sea level, started dredging rivers to reduce the impact of the flood, but it came with unintended consequences.

The mangroves died off as a result, exposing the rivers to the direct heat of the sun and killing off aquatic life essential to the ecosystem. Fish, crabs and other shellfish disappeared from the rivers. Students and their families relied on catching fish to eat. With their main source of sustenance gone, many students went absent from class as they had to work to support their families. 

Bonuan Buquig National High School took action to support its students and save the local environment. Galvanising over a hundred volunteers, it plants thousands of mangrove propagules each year and has provided new habitats and shelter for fish. As a result, the mangroves along the Longos river banks are nearly rehabilitated and stabilised.

The school also initiated an International Coastal Clean-up in 2014, working with volunteers to clean the shorelines of Bonuan Beach. Collected garbage was then classified and accounted for to determine the number of biodegradable and non-biodegradable materials. Recyclable materials were upcycled as garden pots and decorations. It also planted trees to rehabilitate a local dump site. 

If Bonuan Buquig National High School were to win the World’s Best School Prize for Environmental Action, it would use the funds to build a nursery that could house around 50,000 mangrove seedlings a year and push much-needed research  to improve the techniques and technology on Mangrove propagation and preservation.

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Diseño sin título (40)
Ecole Secondaire Lacombe Composite High School

📍 Lacombe, Canada

🏫 Government school

👥 501 to 1000 secondary students

Growing student leaders to save the planet

Ecole Secondaire Lacombe Composite High School, a secondary school in Lacombe, Canada threw down the gauntlet to its students, challenging them to become leaders on environmental issues, and their award-winning projects have gone from strength to strength. 

When in 2006 a teacher remarked to a student that “words without actions were meaningless” it proved the spark of inspiration that would change the school forever. A year later, the student came back with an offer of starting a project that would take the school off the electricity grid. She put together a vision statement, a plan and gained the support of fellow students and the school’s environmental club, EcoVision, was born. 

The club’s long-term projects have seen it collaborate with the local community, universities and NGOs on initiatives to protect the environment. Over the course of four years it developed a 6kW solar array. When a fire broke out on the school roof in 2010 and destroyed the solar project, the sight of students crying underscored the importance of the club’s work and it rose from the ashes to produce new initiatives such as a near net-zero 850 ft tall geodesic tropical greenhouse. In 2012, the club helped create a 2-acre garden that eventually produced two hundred fruit trees, fifty vegetable beds and several patches that grew potatoes, garlic and squash. A few years later, the school started a beekeeping programme with eight hives. 

If Ecole Secondaire Lacombe Composite High School were to win World’s Best School Prize for Environmental Action, it would use the funds to invest in student-led environmental initiatives and create scholarships that would allow students to earn their qualifications through workshops, courses and other programmes. It would also use the funds to launch outreach programmes to help other schools to develop similar environmental initiatives.

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Diseño sin título (41)
Escuela Técnica N°8 Paula Albarracín de Sarmiento

📍 Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, Argentina

🏫 Government school

👥 1001 to 1500 secondary students

Empowering students to build upon the past into a greener future

Escuela Técnica N°8 Paula Albarracín de Sarmiento, a state school in Buenos Aires City, Argentina sits next to “Olimpo”, a site that was once a clandestine detention centre used by the former military government in Argentina. The school is reclaiming this once-feared site and reconnecting it with the community, creating life where before there used to be only death through a community garden and a memorial telling the stories of the victims.  

This is one of a number of environmental and social projects run by the school, which specialises in providing an education where the social and chemical sciences coexist. Most of its students come from lower income backgrounds and live in settlements where there is poor access to clean drinking water, healthy food and heating. 

The school has helped address some of these issues through the Green Schools Programme initiated by the Ministry of Education of Buenos Aires City Government. Leading the work through a network of schools of the community, it has developed projects to study the nutritional and environmental benefits of solar cookers and ovens. The school set up an organic community garden and, in 2017, chemistry students began to make their own hydroponic nutrients that eventually led the school to become a supplier for more than 50 schools and community institutions, contributing to the development of different community gardens in small spaces in the city. A year later, students developed aquaponic crops as an alternative to organic farming. 

If Escuela Técnica N°8 Paula Albarracín de Sarmiento were to win the World’s Best School Prize for Environmental Action, it would use the funds to continue to support its programmes, buy more supplies and build a laboratory. It would also use the money to install a fish hatchery and grant funding for lower income students to go on school trips.

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Diseño sin título (7)
GEMS Legacy School

📍 Dubai, United Arab Emirates

🏫 Private/Independent school 

👥 2000+ kindergarten, primary and secondary students

Why teachers should be environmental ambassadors

GEMS Legacy School, a private K-12 school in Dubai, UAE, was the first school in the world to have every teacher recognised as a UN CC: Learn climate change ambassador and the only school  that was represented and recognised for its initiatives at COP 25 and COP 26. For the past three decades, the school has made strides to build a reputation as an environmentally conscious organisation and weave climate-focused classes into its curriculum. 

The school’s staff champion numerous initiatives to support a sustainable planet. Their ‘Plant a Legacy’ campaign works with 42 countries to plant trees to restore deforested areas; each year more than 18,000 trees are planted. The school placed E-waste bins around campus in a bid to encourage students and families to recycle E-waste. It also has an in-house garden patch where students can appreciate working in a green, open space and grow vegetables.   

GLS is growing its global humanitarian efforts in sustainability through collaborations with other schools in the form of events and projects like School Conference of Parties Exposition (SCOPE) and GEMS Global Ambassadors’ Society (GGA).

A few of the initiatives undertaken under SCOPE and GGA include: Global Twinning Projects: a focus on networking with schools and organisations in more than 10 countries to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals; Sustainable Recipes: a focus on creating, publishing, marketing and influencing recipes and eating habits with zero waste at its core; and Plogging: a focus on combining exercise and picking up litter to clean up beaches and open spaces.

GEMS Legacy School also collaborates with students from sister schools in the UAE, India, Australia and the UK on a project called the ‘The Climate Diaries,’ a series of climate stories, illustrations and thoughts on climate change written for children around the world. 

If GEMS Legacy School were to win the World’s Best School Prize for Environmental Action, the prize money won will be used to holistically grow its global student and teacher community into global, passionate climate change advocates, develop the hydroponic and greenhouse garden and help other schools in UAE set up the same along with advocating for solar panels in the school community.

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Diseño sin título (6)
Green School Bali

📍 Bali, Indonesia

🏫 Private/Independent school

👥 301 to 500 pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, primary and secondary students

Building environmental sustainability into the very foundations of the school

Green School Bali, a K-12 international private school in Bali, Indonesia has woven environmentalism into the fabric of the school itself. It uses compost toilets, feeds the school pigs using leftovers from student meals made from produce in its gardens, and even has a unique network of bio buses that take children to and from campus. 

Teaching a cohort of 370 students from over thirty different countries, Green School Bali seeks to connect its students with nature in the hopes of preparing them for the challenges presented by climate change and environmental degradation. The school’s philosophy has transcended borders, with branch schools opening up in New Zealand and South Africa. 

Taking notes from the United Nations’ Sustainable Development goals, it plans its lessons through the lens of a greener world. But what is really unique about the school is that almost every component of its facilities and educational model is shaped to ensure environmental sustainability. In 2015, students and faculty at Green School Bali launched the Bio Bus – Indonesia's first 100% biofuel-powered transportation system which uses recycled cooking oil. It has its own recycling and waste management service called KemBali, located just outside the school’s gates. Many within the local community continue to use it and it has been emulated in other nearby villages. 

These practices are also sewn into the social lives of students. Some days a student could arrive at school, do gardening in the morning and later place their leftover food in a bucket to feed the pigs stationed on campus. Green School Bali’s compost toilets which process waste to nourish the bamboo that grows all over campus. Jokingly called “the human resource centre,” the newer toilets sport designs created by teachers and students. 

If Green School Bali were to win the World’s Best School Prize for Environmental Action, it would use the funds to enhance the learning experience for Green School students, invest in and support its faculty and continue expanding its mission of educating changemakers who will regenerate our world, around the world.  

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Diseño sin título (42)
Institución Educativa El Castillo

📍 Barrancabermeja, Colombia

🏫 Government school

👥 2000+ kindergarten, primary and secondary students

How to train students to be environmental leaders

Institución Educativa El Castillo, a state school in Barrancabermeja, Santander, Colombia, serves a low-resourced community near a swamp where pollution presents severe problems. Recognising the serious environmental issues at stake, the school's mission and teaching methods are centred on training leaders who will go on to transform the environment. It works to make its students environmentally conscious, encouraging them to research problems and arrive at solutions, and engages them in projects including waste management by participating in the circular economy.

The school’s student-led "Opportunity Shop Project" saw the collection of donations such as uniforms and school supplies. Parents restored them and then they were marketed to the school community at symbolic prices so that low-income students can reuse them. 

At the school lab, students, parents, and science teachers make household cleaning products that are biodegradable and environmentally friendly. These are marketed in e-commerce through a digital platform created by the students.

If Institución Educativa El Castillo were to win the World’s Best School Prize for Environmental Action it would use the funds to strengthen its research to tackle environmental issues.

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Diseño sin título (5)
International School of Zug and Luzern

📍 Zug, Switzerland

🏫 Private/Independent school

👥 1001 to 1500 pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, primary and secondary students

How to become a zero waste and zero carbon school

International School of Zug and Luzern, a non-profit international school in Zug, Switzerland’s student initiatives have set it firmly on the path to becoming a zero-waste, zero-carbon organisation. 

The school has student Zero Carbon and Zero Waste groups that work towards its environmental goals. The Zero Carbon group recently launched the Carbon Fund, a community website for members to offset their emissions through donations that support student projects. The Zero Waste group works locally to ensure minimal waste production and has acquired a composting machine to turn lunchroom waste into valuable compost, and is implementing this as official school policy.

One of the school’s crowning achievements when it comes to sustainability is a project that seeks to build a twin aquaponics system between the school in Switzerland and the small costal town of Kokrobite in Ghana. Aquaponics is an innovative way of farming that involves raising aquatic organisms like fish in harmony with plants in a symbiotic cycle. It uses the waste produced by fish to feed plants and in turn the plants soak up the nitrogen from the fish tank, cleaning the water in the process. There are many benefits to aquaponic farming, among which are the reduced use of water and increased speed of plant growth. Harnessing this process, the school has built a small aquaponics system on campus in its laboratory as a model for a large-scale operation it is helping construct in Ghana, which would produce 20 tons of fish and 50 tons of vegetables annually and provide work and education to the local community.

If International School of Zug and Luzern were to win the World’s Best School Prize for Environmental Action, it would use the funds to secure speakers for school events on environmental causes and for the expansion of other school projects that would help serve the wider community.

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Diseño sin título (8)
Laboratory of Special Vocational Education of Agios Dimitrios

📍 Athens, Greece

🏫 Government school

👥 201 to 300 secondary students

Everyone can contribute to a sustainable future

Laboratory of Special Vocational Education of Agios Dimitrios, a public secondary school in Athens, Greece, has proved that every member of society can contribute towards positive environmental change.

The Laboratory of Special Vocational Education of Agios Dimitrios caters to 240 students with mental disorders and special educational needs. The school’s ethos is driven by the idea that small, local, fair, and inclusive communities can play a major role in pushing Europe and the whole planet towards a sustainable future. 

The school participated in the European Waste Reduction Week 2021 where students visited neighbouring schools, gave out educational posters and gave a presentation consisting of experiential actions to other students of all levels about their work on sustainability. They showed materials from old household utensils could be processed into useful objects such as frames and lamps. 

In addition, special bins were placed in the collaborating schools where students would collect old household utensils and tools. The material would later be transported to Laboratory of Special Vocational Education of Agios Dimitrios where it would be turned into decorative objects. 

If Laboratory of Special Vocational Education of Agios Dimitrios were to win the World’s Best School Prize for Environmental Action, it would use the funds to launch a website that provides free resources for teachers about reusing. It would also use the money to cover travel expenses for school trips and build a ‘Centre for the Collection and Creative Reuse’, which will contribute to the reduction of urban waste.

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Diseño sin título (43)
Nachitukula Primary School

📍 Phalombe, Malawi

🏫 Government school

👥 1501 to 2000 primary students

Tackling flooding by saving forests

Nachitukula Primary School, a primary school in Phalombe, Malawi is, like other schools in the district, constantly besieged by floods. The flooding sweeps into the classrooms and offices, leaving nothing but destruction in its wake. But the school quickly realised that reforesting was the answer to its problems. 

The district of Phalombe has experienced massive deforestation, which has led to floods in this low-lying region that have damaged the school building and cancelled lessons. 

The school has launched an initiative to plant 60 million trees on 4,000 hectares of land in the district to combat deforestation. The school expects this to tackle flooding by reducing soil compaction, thereby enabling ground water to penetrate, decreasing surface runoff and sediment migration. 

If Nachitukula Primary School were to win the World’s Best School Prize for Environmental Action it would use the funds to expand its ‘Climate Action and Sixty Million Tree Planting Activity’ initiative to cover the southern region of Malawi and establish tree nurseries in schools across the region.

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