The World’s Best School Prize for Environmental Action recognises and celebrates schools that play an active role in combatting the climate crisis, through the education of their students and wider community, to help them take action to protect their future.

Discover the winning and shortlisted schools championing environmental education, student-led eco initiatives, and sustainable practices, molding future planet stewards.

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Agora Portals International School

Portals Nous, Majorca, Spain

Empowering the next generation of marine sustainability champions

Agora Portals International School, an independent international school in Portals Nous, Majorca, Spain, has been transforming the way students interact with the marine ecosystem through its Sea Room project, inspiring a new generation of sustainability champions. From innovative workshops and excursions to beach cleanups and an Eco-school accreditation, the school's commitment to raising awareness has seen the marine environment and its conservation incorporated into the curriculum.

Agora Portals International School’s Sea Room project is part of the larger Agora Posidonia Experience project, aimed at raising awareness of the marine environment and its conservation among the students. Since the Sea Room’s opening in November 2021, the school has hosted more than 150 workshops for 3- to 18-year-olds.

The Sea Room project itself is a comprehensive programme that includes a series of workshops, presentations, talks, excursions, and activities throughout the students' academic life. The Vellmari Association, with Manu San Felix, a well-known National Geographic explorer, designed a detailed and age-specific educational programme of workshops that are held once in each school term. The Palma Aquarium Foundation and the Mar de Fondo Association also conduct specific workshops for all student age groups. All courses include two annual school trips to marine environments, which also include beach cleaning activities.

The school's efforts have been widely applauded by local media, highly valued by local authorities, and even awarded the Onda Cero Mallorca 2022 Environmental Award. Agora Portals is the first school in the Balearic Islands to achieve Eco-school accreditation, receiving the green flag in June 2022. The school has been certified as a European Blue School.

If Agora Portals International School wins the World's Best School Prize for Environmental Action, it intends to continue investing in its Sea Room project to expand its reach and impact. The school's commitment to raising awareness about the importance of preserving the marine environment and its conservation has not only provided a unique educational experience to its students but has also helped to create a more sustainable future for the community.

Colegio Johannes Kepler

Quito, Ecuador

How one school’s Regenerative Design and Permaculture programme turned it into a leader in education for sustainable development.

Colegio Johannes Kepler, an independent school in Quito, Ecuador, has successfully created a regenerative design and permaculture learning environment that focuses on six key areas: energy, zero waste, green construction, water management, seed-soil-food and ecosystem restoration. Where the concept of sustainable living used to lack coherence between campus and home, approximately 60% of the school’s families now have urban gardens, and the school has managed to neutralise over 90% of its campus’ carbon footprint and to recover 80% of the biodiversity and biomass on campus.

The school has installed 68 solar panels and a wind energy generator, while implementing a systematic plan for zero waste management, with biodigesters and worm composters. It has also built eco-efficient classrooms, using natural materials such as bamboo and integrating them with nature to promote forest school pedagogy. The school has even integrated an Edible Forest Design and Agroecological Garden with an Andean animal farm, nursery classroom, and gastronomic club.

The edible forest itself is part of a larger restoration project that has seen a locally exotic forest converted back to a native forest, restoring ecosystems, and providing the school with student-developed trails and class spaces for biodiversity interpretation, with species mapping, descriptive and signage sheets, and artistic illustration.

Further contributing to its sustainable development achievements, the school has reforested forests, ravines, and urban trees, bringing together students, families, companies, government institutions, NGOs, and civil society to plant trees required by Ecuador for carbon footprint compensation. So far, this network has planted 2.2 million trees.

If Colegio Johannes Kepler wins the World's Best School Prize for Environmental Action, it will continue to develop the Regenerative Design and Permaculture project and expand its impact by creating a replicable model of ecological sustainability for schools worldwide, promoting a holistic approach to education that instils in students the values of regenerative practices and global citizenship.

EEMTI Jaime Tomaz De Aquino

Beberibe, Ceará, Brazil

Creating a sustainable legacy: This school puts the environment at the centre of education

EEMTI Jaime Tomaz De Aquino, a government secondary school in Beberibe, Ceará, Brazil, is redefining the role of education in creating a greener, more sustainable future. Overcoming the challenges of its location and the lack of existing trees, the school has successfully fostered environmental consciousness and addressed issues like wasteful practices and incorrect waste disposal. As a result, the school has become a recognised institution for its commitment to sustainability.

Shortly after its construction in 2019, EEMTI Jaime Tomaz De Aquino joined the Department of Education’s Ceará (SEDUC) Sustainable School Seal Programme as a means of implementing a comprehensive programme focused on curriculum, environmental management, physical space, and socio-environmental education in an effort to reverse the limited awareness about environmental issues and harmful practices in the community.

The school’s curriculum introduces topics like "Harmful Plastic" to raise awareness of waste, while field classes and workshops provide hands-on experience in reusing bottles, recycling paper, and creating ecological products. The school actively participates in events and collaborates with various organisations involved in nature preservation.

Regarding environmental management, the school carries out awareness campaigns on energy use and water consumption, uses reminder posters, and has formed an environmental working group. It also takes part in collecting selective waste, paper recycling, and reuses water from air conditioners. The physical space itself has been enhanced with new trees, hanging gardens from recycled bottles, green roofs, a school garden, and a biodigester prototype.

The school is also active on social networks to promote environmental engagement, and hosts a dedicated radio programme for environmental information.

The school's actions have led to increased student participation in environmental events and stronger ties with environmental activism and education groups. Its own sustainable practices have reduced water consumption, increased rainwater capture, and produced organic fertiliser. Notably, it has helped reduce disposable household waste by approximately 80%.

If EEMTI Jaime Tomaz De Aquino wins the World's Best School Prize for Environmental Action, it plans to expand educational initiatives and strengthen ecological awareness. The school aims to collaborate with other groups and schools in the region in an effort to replicate sustainable practices. It also hopes to support transportation, food, hydration, and other necessary expenses. Additionally, the school plans to invest in maintenance, acquiring eco project materials, and creating a suitable space for art and creativity.

Escuela Secundaria Pdte. Domingo F. Sarmiento (National University of the North West of the Province of Buenos Aires)

Junín, Buenos Aires Province, Argentina

From awareness to action: How one school's Environmental Education programme is changing attitudes and making a difference

Escuela Secundaria Pdte. Domingo F. Sarmiento (National University of the North West of the Province of Buenos Aires), a government educational institution focused on Natural Sciences in Junín, Buenos Aires Province, Argentina has had a positive impact on its student and wider community through its Environmental Education programme. With 60% of its students coming from low-income families, the school aimed to encourage environmental stewardship, teaching awareness about the environment and its impact on society, encouraging citizen participation and recognising their right to a healthy and diverse environment.

To ensure that the programme was not limited to classroom teaching, the school developed several axes of work, including an inter-institutional project called Ecoideas, which generated community engagement in contributing to environmental care. The school also joined the Huellitas University Extension Project with the aim of promoting animal rights and fostering empathy and support for domestic and street animals. The project aimed to educate students and generate positive attitudes and behaviours towards animal welfare.

The school also conducted a research project focused on phytoremediation to evaluate heavy metal contamination levels in various bodies of water.

The school's comprehensive approach to Environmental Education has had a significant impact, resulting in changes in students' behaviour and attitudes towards the environment. This has inspired environmental stewardship not just among students but also their families, reversing the negative attitude towards recycling in the community and encouraging pride in positive environmental action. As a result, the school has inspired the wider community to follow its lead in promoting environmental care.

If Escuela Secundaria Pdte. Domingo F. Sarmiento wins the World's Best School Prize for Environmental Action, it will use the money to continue its efforts and expand to other schools and civil society organisations in the city. The school hopes to inspire other schools globally with its environmental stewardship programme.

Institución Educativa Municipal Montessori sede San Francisco

Pitalito, Huila, Colombia

Brewing change: How a Colombian school is fighting and transforming the coffee industry’s environmental impact

Institución Educativa Municipal Montessori sede San Francisco, a government primary and secondary school located in Pitalito, Huila, Colombia, is waging a triumphant battle against the devastating effects of coffee production in the region, unleashing a wave of transformation that is inspiring change in their students and the wider community. Through its CAFELAB COLOMBIA programme, the school has successfully demonstrated that it can reduce pollution, promote entrepreneurship, and contribute to a healthier environment. The programme's success is demonstrated by key statistics, such as the incorporation of over 100,000 tons of coffee pulp and the production of innovative eco-friendly products.

Huila is the leading coffee producing department in Colombia and faces a pressing environmental challenge due to the significant amount of waste produced by coffee production. This is because 95% of the by-products, including pulp, mucilage, husk, rubber, and stems, is carelessly discarded into the environment and bodies of water, decreasing the domestic quality of both.

In 2017, to address the situation, Institución Educativa Municipal Montessori sede San Francisco established CAFELAB COLOMBIA. Under this initiative, students and researchers embarked on a two-phase approach, the first involving fieldwork and research to determine the best disposal methods for the waste. This included experiments and survey- and interview-based data collection from coffee farmers. The school used drones to gather geospatial information for analysis. The results of this phase were shared through presentations at various municipal, departmental, national, and international levels.

The second phase focused on nurturing entrepreneurship. STEM challenges were presented to the researchers, and through design, prototyping, testing, and evaluation, the students developed innovative products and processes using the coffee by-products. This practical approach not only contributed to a sustainable solution but also fostered critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

CAFELAB COLOMBIA has already yielded significant results. Socially, it has become a research centre for the entire South Colombian region, benefiting over 150,000 students, 5,000 teachers, and approximately 600,000 inhabitants involved in coffee-related activities. Environmentally, the programme has reintegrated more than 100,000 tons of coffee pulp into productive use, reclaimed over 20 litres of water per kilogram of washed coffee, and enabled the production of electric batteries and eco-friendly fabrics. Economically, the school has fostered the growth of certified green businesses that specialise in treating coffee waste, supporting the circular economy and offering new income opportunities for local communities.

If Institución Educativa Municipal Montessori sede San Francisco wins the World's Best School Prize for Environmental Action, the school intends to further strengthen the research project. This would help establish a dedicated research centre for the treatment of solid and liquid coffee waste, catering to the high demand for sustainable solutions in the region. With the support of specialised companies, the school aims to provide training and assistance to the coffee community, empowering them to pursue entrepreneurial projects that promote environmental sustainability and generate additional income for their households.

Mamoura British Academy

Abu Dhabi, UAE

Sustainability beyond the environment: Empowering students to create true and lasting change

Mamoura British Academy, an independent international school in Abu Dhabi, UAE, is leading the world on sustainable action for a better future just as the global spotlight falls on the UAE as the host of COP28 this year. Uniquely, its work is led almost entirely by a dedicated team of student ambassadors from ages 3 – 18, tirelessly pursuing the Global Goals and the outcomes of the One Young World Summit and helping the school achieve Eco Green flag status.

Mamoura British Academy’s environmental efforts began with simple recycling projects before growing organically over the years. From its 'Pile It Up Challenge' and 'Simply Bottles' to encourage responsible plastic use, it went on to weave sustainable practices through the curriculum and engage students through regular House competitions aimed at reducing individual and collective carbon footprints, further allowing students to showcase their creativity.

Next, the school began to incorporate sustainable food practices through aeroponic gardens – a method of growing plants without soil – where students take charge of crop cycles, with all the food grown either used in the school kitchen or shared with staff, students, and visitors to reduce food waste.

Strategic partnerships with Madar Farms and Grazia Farms have supported curriculum enhancement and given the school access to invaluable resources, such as expert knowledge, cutting-edge techniques, and hands-on experiences in sustainable food production and consumption.

It launched a school retrofit in which students prioritised energy reduction through the installation of light motion detectors in each classroom, while it has installed Eshara water fountains which take moisture from the air to convert into drinking water in order to limit water waste. Meanwhile, the school engages in community cleanups in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Environmental Agency and other collaborations with The Alliance for Sustainable Schools. During virtual learning, students created, developed and promoted various crafts using recycled materials, and the school’s decorations for Eid are created from recycled products.

If Mamoura British Academy wins the World's Best School Prize for Environmental Action, its students are keen to create a desert/forest school. With the naturally stunning desert landscape of the UAE, and with the forest school principles in mind, a desert school can be set up to be calm and purposeful, using natural materials, and providing a hands-on learning experience encouraging children to explore, ask questions and investigate the harmony between people and nature.

Muntinlupa National High School

Muntinlupa City, Philippines

From pollution to solution: This school’s simple and yet novel environmental action yields tangible results

Muntinlupa National High School, a government school in Muntinlupa City, Philippines, has become a powerful force in environmental action, propelling the school and its community towards a greener and healthier future. The oldest and biggest school in the city of Mutinlupa, it sits in the National Bureau of Prison Reservation and caters for students whose relatives are imprisoned or who are relatives of the employees of the prison. Through its simple, affordable, and yet innovative Revitalised Algae Microfarm Project (RevAMP), the school harnesses the potential of microalgae and embraces an integrative approach to education, transforming the school landscape and spearheading tangible solutions to combat pollution and revolutionise climate action.

Situated in one of the most polluted parts of the country, the Metro Manila, Muntinlupa National High School also lacked adequate ventilation systems, where poor quality of air seeped into the classrooms passing through windows and other open spaces, hindering the conducive students' learning environment. In response, the school launched ReVamp, adopting algaculture techniques and photobioreactors to cultivate the Chlorella Vulgaris algae, renowned for its exceptional ability to absorb greenhouse gases and pollutants.

While the solution quickly and significantly improved air quality by reducing the levels of carbon dioxide, formaldehyde, and total volatile organic compounds, the school also integrated RevAMP into the curriculum, establishing a learning laboratory to provide students with a means to explore and invent valuable outcomes for the algae that serve the community's needs. Thus, the students have discovered that algae, known as a superfood, can be used for various economic advantages, such as food production, medicine, and supplements.

Muntinlupa National High School has already extended its solution to other schools in the area with the same success, but the impact of RevAMPcould extend even beyond borders. The Chlorella vulgaris algae’s absorption capacity reaches an impressive 17,000 to 18,000 tons of carbon dioxide per acre per year. Microalgae also serve as effective purifying agents for potential clean water source solutions in rural and remote areas. It is also an affordable energy alternative, such as converting it into biodiesel, reducing dependence on fossil fuels and promoting sustainable practices.

If Muntinlupa National High School wins the World's Best School Prize for Environmental Action, the school intends to further expand the RevAMP project for a sustainable future and enable the school community to become self-sufficient and independent in meeting their needs. Furthermore, 50% of the prize would go towards expanding the development and legacy of RevAMP, while the remaining 50% would be divided among ten academic institutions nationwide in the Philippines to ripple the effects of its environmental sustainability programmes, thus creating a lasting impact beyond excellence.

New Myrnam School

Myrnam, Alberta, Canada

Revitalising a small town and building a sustainable future through environmental action

New Myrnam School, a public school in Myrnam, Alberta, Canada, has worked collaboratively with the Village of Myrnam and County of Two Hills to reverse the slow decline of its small rural community. With a groundbreaking programme aimed at addressing environmental issues and renewable energy, the school’s authentic, project-based learning has brought student engagement to new levels. The school's reputation has attracted new families and brought transformative possibilities to the community in the process.

Like many rural schools in the Canadian prairie provinces, New Myrnam School has faced population fluctuations due to the boom and bust nature of the oil industry. The declining student population year after year prompted the need for a change to ensure the school's future.

The school’s environmental programme began with a greenhouse extension project, integrated into the curriculum, where grade 7 students studied heat transfer and made modifications to enhance efficiency. The goal was to ensure the greenhouse could be used earlier in the spring and later in the autumn without the use of electric heaters and fans. Concurrently, grade 8 students designed a rainwater harvesting system, implementing a "first flush" mechanism to discard contaminated water. Collected fresh rainwater was then used for watering vegetables in the raised garden beds and the greenhouse without the need to further deplete groundwater reserves. Furthermore, grade 9 students developed a highly efficient hydroponic system, providing locally grown lettuce to reduce the school's carbon footprint, since the closest grocery store is a 20 minute highway drive to purchase fresh produce.

Building upon this success, New Myrnam School embarked on projects centred around renewable energy systems. Students researched, designed, and built various sources of renewable energy solutions providing electricity to an off-grid eco-classroom. Divided into teams, students focused on wind, solar, and biofuel solutions, offering recommendations to the town council.

Since then, the programme has included further research into hydroponic technologies and production capacity, as well as a fleet of electric golf carts, restored into sustainable modes of transportation, and a school bus, repurposed as a net-zero tiny home. Currently, the school’s ongoing "Leading Our Community Towards Net-Zero" project involves conducting an energy audit and improving the Village of Myrnam's CTEC facility’s HVAC control system and increasing the solar grid tied array to achieve Net-Zero.

Aside from the remarkable environmental results the programme has yielded, the hands-on, project-based learning approach has fostered a passion for learning and inspiring change in students. This has attracted collaboration with educators from neighbouring schools as well as new families into the area – a truly transformative impact on the school’s wider community.

If New Myrnam School wins the World's Best School Prize for Environmental Action, the school will expand the grid-tied solar array, further advancing the goal of transforming the CTEC facility into a net-zero building. This achievement will benefit the environment and ensure the long-term financial sustainability of the facility amidst rising energy costs.

Silibwet Secondary School

Nyahururu, Kenya

Planting for the future: How this school is tackling climate change

Silibwet Secondary School, a government school in Nyahururu Town, Nyandarua County, Kenya, has been a game-changer in the fight against local deforestation, soil erosion, and the effects of global warming. By planting over 15,300 trees, the school’s Evergreen Environmental Movement club has directly contributed to increasing the forest cover in the region, which was previously only at 10%, and has positively impacted ecological resilience in the local environment and beyond. All this despite limited resources such as transport, seedlings, maintenance, funding, and water.

In a region hit by the worst drought in 40 years, and where most students walk between 5 and 15 kms to and from school, the school saw staff members donating their own vehicles to transport the trees, and building a nursery to grow seedlings to save on the cost of having to buy new ones every year. It also adapted its programme to the seasons, to plant during the rains, and used an ‘adopt a tree’ approach, where students and community members were taught how to take care of newly planted trees and then took responsibility for them.

The school's efforts have boosted ecological resilience in the area and created a habitat that has brought back many native animals and species. What’s more, the school's collaborative and community-building efforts have garnered widespread support, re-landscaping the local police station, for example, and other initiatives that enhance the quality of life in the community.

The school has already won numerous awards, including winning the Anthem Awards Silver Category for exemplary work in climate action and environmental conservation, and was among 250 schools globally to be recognised for excellence in climate action. By planting 100,000 trees annually, the project aims to reduce at least 2,000 tonnes of carbon per year and contribute to increasing the forest cover from current levels.

If Silibwet Secondary School wins the World's Best School Prize for Environmental Action, it intends to use the prize money to expand its environmental education programme to more schools in the region and purchase more equipment to support sustainable agriculture practices. The school also intends to start a tree nursery to supply seedlings to other schools in the area.

The Harbour School

Ap Lei Chau, Hong Kong, China

A school’s first-of-a-kind educational seaweed farming project to promote sustainable development in Hong Kong

The Harbour School, an independent international school in Ap Lei Chau, Hong Kong, China, has introduced an incredibly simple and yet potentially revolutionary solution to ocean sustainability, combating climate change, and achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The school’s recently-launched Seaweed Farming Project introduces and educates students and the wider community about this sustainable aquaculture, creating a positive impact on both the education and environmental sectors.

The school has a research and education facility, called the Marine Science Centre, and a 50-foot sailboat called the Black Dolphin that takes students on field trips in open waters to study local marine life and the ocean, and has been instrumental in the Seaweed Farming Project.

Macroalgae (seaweed) improves seawater quality, increases biodiversity, produces oxygen and absorbs carbon from the atmosphere through photosynthesis, thereby playing an extremely important role in combating climate change and promoting ocean sustainability. Hong Kong, despite being surrounded by the ocean, is not commonly active in farming seaweed.

The Harbour School’s educational seaweed project began by connecting with seaweed experts around the world, who expressed support for the project and provided invaluable advice. With this, the school prepared the teaching and learning plan for the students, which included multiple excursions to the surrounding sea area, scouting for potential sites for prototype deployment and gathering seaweed samples.

Back at the school, students across all year groups learned about seaweed while some ran aquarium experiments, with the eighth grade spearheading the building of the actual farm structures in the school’s Foundry maker space. In August 2022, the school received a one-off funding of around US$10,000 from the Environment and Conservation Fund to launch the project for students and the public.

The students have already seen their farms begin to show growth. The school-wide project has brought cross-collaboration and synergy between the school and local and international community, providing a hands-on learning experience for students and bringing positive impact in the educational and environmental landscape.

If The Harbour School wins the World's Best School Prize for Environmental Action, it intends to use the prize funds to expand the seaweed farming project, engage more students and the wider community in sustainable aquaculture and manufacturing practices in Hong Kong, and promote and work with NGOs, government and private sectors on sustainability and innovation.

Bonuan Buquig National High School

Dagupan City, Philippines

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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International School of Zug and Luzern

Zug, Switzerland

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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Green School Bali

Bali, Indonesia

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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Alqubaiba High Elementary Girls School

North West Jerusalem, Palestine

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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Escuela Técnica N°8 Paula Albarracín de Sarmiento

Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, Argentina

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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Ecole Secondaire Lacombe Composite High School

Lacombe, Canada

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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Institución Educativa El Castillo

Barrancabermeja, Colombia

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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GEMS Legacy School

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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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Laboratory of Special Vocational Education of Agios Dimitrios

Athens, Greece

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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Nachitukula Primary School

Phalombe, Malawi

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.

Judging Criteria

The criteria for judging and rating this Prize category are the following:

1. Teaching & Learning

2. Home & Community Engagement

3. Sustainable Leadership & Practice

4. Infrastructure

Children gathering around school desk while teacher explains something to them.

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