• There was a strong consensus that educating for sustainability should begin very early in life. It is in the early childhood period that children develop their basic values, attitudes, skills, behaviours and habits, which may be long lasting.
  • It was suggested that, instead of talking about the 3Rs (reading, writing and arithmetic), one should refer to the 7Rs for education for sustainable development (reduce, reuse, recycle, respect, repair, reflect and refuse).
  • Learning about democratic values and practices can and should start in the smallest unit of society – the family – at birth.
  • There is a great deal in the traditions of early childhood pedagogies that align with education for sustainability: e.g. interdisciplinary approach, holism, use of the outdoors for learning, integration of care, development and education, learning through concrete experiences and real life projects, and involvement of parents and communities.
  • non-formal education can be set up – as an integral component of community programmes or otherwise – to provide parents and grandparents with opportunities to discuss what could be done differently in daily life in order to become an effective agent of bringing about sustainable development. Where an early childhood education programme does exist, a parental education can complement what children experience in the programme.
  • It was felt paradoxical that early childhood educators – who have strong infl uence in shaping children’s personality and dispositions – often have very low social and professional status. It is important to improve the status of the early childhood education field and its personnel in the pursuit of realizing a sustainable society… Increasing investment in improving access, quality and equity of early childhood provision and supporting families is an urgent necessity.
  • The work in the early years should not be about teaching how to read and write early and formally. Young children can be encouraged to question over-consumption through discussions about familiar food products, clothes, toys and advertisements. Such discussions could be expanded to incorporate considerations about their counterparts in less materially rich circumstances, and stimulate conversations about solidarity and co-operation.
  • intercultural education … learning to respect and appreciate diversity… developing a sense of themselves as world citizens.
  • the need to collect good practices on education for sustainable development in the early years – found in different countries and cultures – which can inspire and guide the daily work of early childhood educators. Other research ideas suggested were: (a) research on the kinds of knowledge and skills that early childhood educators need in order to provide early education for sustainability; (b) comparative studies of children’s and educators’ attitudes and conceptions about sustainability; (c) collection of life stories from famous people (e.g. Al Gore) about their early childhood experiences and how these might have shaped their values, ideas and actions in favour of sustainable development; and (d) a longitudinal research on the impacts and benefits of education for sustainable development in the early years.
  • From this perspective, should the goals of early childhood education be re-thought and redefined? Should the goal of early childhood education primarily be to promote academic knowledge and competences for successful learning in later stages of education, or should they offer a broader range of knowledge, skills and support, and if so, what are they?

from this report.

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