Starting in nursery school and continuing all through school, children and young people in Norway are taught about nature, environment and development. For this reason, priority has been given to courses and competence building for teachers. Children and young people also become interested in environmental problems through outdoor activities and the work of non-government organisations, and this naturally influences their attitudes to

these issues.

Promoting education, training and changing attitudes

Children and youth

Environmental studies in schools and nursery schools Environmental education is a compulsory part of the syllabus in schools and nursery schools in Norway. The aim of environmental education is to give children and youth knowledge, attitudes and skills so that they can contribute towards sustainable development. It also aims at creating new patterns of behaviour among children and youth through action-oriented environmental tuition. The Ministry of Education, Research and Church Affairs has drawn up a special strategy for this work. Considerable attention has been given in the framework plan for nursery schools to the closeness of children with nature.

Cross-sectoral cooperation

The Ministry of Children and Family Affairs, the Ministry of Education, Research and Church Affairs and the Ministry of Environment have reached a formal agreement on cooperation at a national level on the environmental education of children and youth. This cooperation ensures that environment and development are given a prominent place in the framework plans for nursery schools and in school syllabuses. The Ministry of Environment cooperates with the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs on the use of outdoor activities as a health-promoting factor among children and youth. Cross-sectoral cooperation enables the different ministries to coordinate information input and other measures relating to the education sector. Some examples are the development of guidelines, increasing the competence of the staff and decision-makers in various sectors, and centrally-controlled research and development work.

A number of ministries have joined forces in establishing national environmental education programmes. The intention of these programmes is to follow up the government´s plans by offering concrete proposals for activities. They are also intended to stimulate cross-sectoral cooperation at local level. One example here is the MEIS programme, which is described on page 20.

At the regional level, cooperation is formalised through liaison groups that have been set up in every county. These groups are led by the Central Government Educational Offices in collaboration with the counties´ environmental protection departments. These groups also include representatives from the government and county municipal services and from NGOs. One of the main tasks of the county liaison groups is to coordinate efforts in the field of environmental education within the county and to stimulate cross-sectoral environmental work in the municipalities. Similar liaison groups have also been set up in many municipalities.

Competence building

In Norway, a great deal of importance is attached to increasing the competence of teachers in the field of environment and development. A compulsory half-year course in nature, society and environment has been included in general teacher education, while pre-school teachers take a compulsory study unit in nature and environment studies. More than 80% of all teachers in the upper secondary school, regardless of their subject field, have taken a supplementary 40-hour course in environment and development. (See further details on page 21). The same supplementary training is being given in the basic school and the aim is for all teachers to have completed this supplementary training in the course of 1998.

Learning by doing

One of the greatest challenges in environmental education is to create an action-oriented form of teaching. As a tool for the educational system/ schools, nation-wide environmental education programmes have been developed which stimulate children and youth to take an active part. The programmes encourage schools and nursery schools to “adopt” part of their neighbourhood and monitor what is happening there as regards biodiversity, waste and emissions, land-use planning and cultural monuments.

Thanks to these programmes, a network has been established between the schools, research communities and environmental authorities. The research institutions decide what the schools are to monitor and how measurements are to be taken; they ensure quality assurance of methods and data, and they process the results in a database. Reports are drawn up on the basis of the pupils´ observations and these are sent to the local environmental protection authorities by the schools or direct from the research institutions.

The United Nations Association of Norway

The United Nations Association of Norway is a non-governmental organisation, whose members are schools, organisations, libraries and private individuals. The Association is financed by member-ship fees, revenues from its activities and support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Its activities range from providing all manner of information about developments in third world countries to the role played by the United Nations in environmental issues, as a political meeting place, a norm setter and a peacemaker and peacekeeper. These activities, based in six district offices, take place throughout Norway. The United Nations Association of Norway has 29 full-time employees today.

Since the UN Conference in Stockholm in 1972, the UN Association of Norway has been building up its expertise on environmental issues. After the Brundtland Commission submitted its report in 1987, environment and development were given top priority in the Association´s informational activities. From then until the UN Conference in Rio in 1992, an interdisciplinary scheme was developed in close cooperation with the school authorities for the education of school teachers on environmental and development issues. In cooperation with the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Association was responsible for the administration of the Joint Campaign for Environment and Development - the NGOs´ joint forum prior to the Rio Conference.

The overriding principle for information supplied by the United Nations Association of Norway is that it shall give an analytical and critical description of the global issues. It is also important to spread positive information about solutions and challenges in the global arena. After the UNCED Conference, when the school authorities decided to introduce a 40-hour compulsory course in environment and development for teachers in the upper secondary school, the Association took responsibility for the global part of this course. Between 80 and 90% of teachers in the upper secondary school have now taken this course.

A large number of teachers in the primary and lower secondary schools have taken an equivalent course. All in all, the Association has completed a total of about 500 planning days.

The Groblad project

The Groblad project is an educational, cross-disciplinary and cross-sector development programme to give children better conditions to grow up in. The intention of the project is to increase the quality of life in the local community with the help of children and nature. It concerns teamplay between immigrant children and Norwegian children in relation to nature activities and outdoor games, the development of social togetherness and the joy of mastering and learning. Øvre Slettheia, a multi-cultural district in Kristiansand was chosen by the authorities as the location for the Groblad neighbourhood project. This made a significant contribution to physical and social improvements in this part of the town. The municipality of Kristiansand was awarded the Environmental City Prize in 1996 for this project.

The Groblad project took its name from a small, inconspicuous plant, the greater plantain, which is commonly found in well-trodden places. In folk medicine, its leaves were used as compresses for cuts and other external injuries to help them to grow, hence the name Groblad (lit.: “grow leaf”). The project involved all the children in nursery school, pre-school, primary school and organised after-school activities as well as the children´s parents and other inhabitants in Øvre Slettheia in Kristiansand. The blocks of flats in this area, about 700 flats in all, house 1200 persons. About 50% of the residents in the high-rise flats are immigrants.

More specifically, this project meant that 200 children under the age of 10 were out in the countryside for one whole day each week all the year round and in all kinds of weather. Other objectives were linked to the development of networks between the residents in the area and to their participation in physical and social improvements in their own immediate environment.

The objectives of the project were

• to focus on the whole spectre of conditions that children grow up in

• to help immigrant and Norwegian children to become familiar with and fond of the Norwegian countryside and outdoor recreation

• to build up a network between the children and adults in the area

• to strengthen the bonds between the institutions in the neighbourhood and the residential environment

• to let children and adults help to shape their own immediate environment

• to improve the rooms where the children play and spend time in the residential area

The Groblad strategy was to start with the children. The children were the best ambassadors in spreading Groblad ideas to parents and other residents in the area. The parents were positive to the idea of the children being outside one day a week whatever the weather. Many parents commented that they enjoyed reading what the children had written about their outdoor activities and several of them went on the excursions themselves. Out in the countryside, children use all their resources in order to understand reality: body, feelings and minds, and they can break new ground at their own speed. Children are helpful, they include each other in their games, and they vary their contacts and relations. They are enthusiastic and they want to show and share what they find with each other and with adults. Children need a safe, stimulating and varied outdoor environment where they can play and develop, and children from the age of 2 or 3 have their own ideas about what their immediate environment should be like. To ensure that language was not a barrier in the multi-cultural community, an “inquiry” was held, giving 200 children between the age of 1 and 10 the chance to draw their idea of what their playing area should be like. This inquiry was followed up by the municipal authorities who implemented some of the ideas arising from it. The children in the project also took an active part in creating a new nature trail in the vicinity. The Groblad trail was a result of a collaboration between school children and the local park authorities. There are signs all along the trail with nature information based on drawings and information provided by the children, combined with scientific texts prepared by adults. Through this project, the children taught the adults to treat the countryside with respect, to live in the present and to enjoy playing with their children. In this way, the project has helped to increase the quality of life in the local community.

Environmental project: Solidarity in practice

In 1992, work was started in the municipality of Stjørdal on improving the quality of environmental education in the primary and lower secondary schools. The main aims of this project were

• to help children and adults to understand the connection between our life style and the environmental problems we are facing

• to improve energy productivity in Stjørdal and contribute to sustainable development in the community based on a fair global consumption of resources.

Stjørdal has 18,000 inhabitants, 2,200 pupils and 250 teachers. The project was based on ideas taken from the national MEIS programme for environmental studies (covering environment, energy and indoor climate in schools). Planning and implementation was done in cooperation between the local educational, technical and health authorities. The energy supplier made a positive contribution from the start. The matter was put to the politicians for discussion prior to the start of the project.

The procedure was to encourage the children to pass on knowledge about energy and the environmental impact of energy consumption to the adults, as this would have a positive effect on attitudes. The goal was to achieve the following:

• a 15% reduction in energy consumption in private dwellings

• a 25% reduction in energy consumption in municipal buildings

• a survey of energy-saving measures in the business sector in the municipality

• a stabilisation of the indoor climate in schools and nursery schools in accordance with current guidelines and standards

The first step was to train the teaching staff, technical personnel and cleaners. The main themes studied were:

• what is environmental education?

• the energy situation in the world today

• connection between energy consumption and the environmental problems we are facing

• what can we do to reduce our energy conservation

• the connection between indoor climate and energy consumption

• the significance of indoor climate for our health

• simple measures to improve the indoor climate in buildings

• how can pupils, parents, teaching staff, technical personnel and cleaners work together to achieve the goals of the project

Material was prepared for the pupils, teaching staff and technical personnel. In the autumn of 1993, pupils from the 4th to 9th grades (age 10 - 16) and their parents were involved in the project. One of the tasks the pupils were given was to record the school´s weekly energy consumption on a large diagram that was displayed in a prominent place. The same system was used in the individual homes. One of the results of this work was a reduction of 23% in energy consumption in the schools in 1995, compared with the base years 1988-1991. This is the equivalent of approx. 3.4 million kWh.

Material on environmental issues

The United Nations Association of Norway has compiled material on environmental issues and distributed it to many target groups. The World Tree is a poster with accompanying guidelines for teachers in nursery schools and the first three grades of primary school. The guidelines include work tasks, suggestions for activities, poems and songs. The intention of the material is to show that we have an earth that is worth taking care of and that man is part of a larger whole. The subjects covered are: water, forests, animal and plant life, settlement and transport. Alternativ (Alternative) is a methods journal for teachers issued by the Association and the UNICEF Committee. Environmental issues have been discussed in several issues of Alternativ. The United Nations Association of Norway has also created a nature trail with accompanying work tasks about the environment. The Association's school department was responsible for the distribution of a series of 50 overheads produced by NORAD. These overheads present significant aspects of environment and development on a global, regional and national level with the help of illustrations, graphs and brief texts. About 3,500 copies of these overheads were sold to Norwegian schools. The series was later translated into English and presented in Sweden, Canada and Belarus.

In 1990, NORAD and the United Nations Association of Norway - with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Environment - put together a travelling exhibition covering 60 sq.m. which presented the Brundtland Commission's report “Our Common Future” in words and pictures. The aim of this exhibition was to inform the Norwegian people about the report itself, about environment and development issues in general and about the UNCED process. This exhibition toured Norway until 1993 and was seen by more than ten per cent of the population.

Courses on environment and development for teachers

For almost five years, the United Nations Association of Norway has been participating through its district offices in the education of teachers in the upper secondary school and basic schools on global themes in a course on environment and development. This course is compulsory in the upper secondary school. Normally, tuition lasts for a whole day. The courses have an interdisciplinary approach and they are attended by teachers from all subject areas. Four basic principles or discussion areas are introduced at the beginning of the course. These include how we see the connection between facts and perspectives, how we interpret these facts, and how our own attitude affects our interpretation. We discuss what we can call 'teaching the lesson of hope', integrated ecological models, and our own and our pupils´ awareness of our future, and how we can act even if we lack knowledge about future developments. The courses and discussions between students and teachers have shown that learning about environment and development takes place at two levels: One of these levels is bound up with the interdisciplinary content of the questions. The other is bound up with how we understand time. We try to describe how environmental problems develop over time and then focus on trends and possibilities. This is followed by a discussion on the precautionary principle and the concept of sustainable


The course also takes up specific issues that are introduced and discussed, such as Agenda 21, climate problems, depletion of the ozone layer, reduction of biodiversity, pollution of the oceans of the earth and protection of tropical forests and sustainable forestry. Population and food issues are also taken up and these are linked up with environmental problems.

Energy, water resources and consumption are also dealt with. The last part of the course concentrates on questions such as re-use and sustainable consumption, the moral and ethical implications of the environmental challenges, and how we can resolve the many environmental and development problems. Finally, we ask whether teaching the lesson of hope is a realistic approach. Our aim is to show, among other things, that the world is in fact making progress thanks to - and not in spite of - international cooperation.

Nature and Youth

Nature and Youth (Friends of the Earth Norway) is Norway´s only conservationist organisation for young people and was formed in 1967 as the youth organisation of the Norwegian Society for the Conservation of Nature. This organisation works on specific environmental matters all over Norway. It also takes an active interest in individual issues outside Norway, such as the forming of independent conservationist groups for young people on the Kola Peninsula. Nature and Youth is a democratic conservationist organisation which currently has about 5300 members. Nature and Youth´s views on important environmental issues are formulated in its political platform. This platform is debated each year at the organisation´s national congress. Important issues on Nature and Youth´s agenda are

• a society which manages its resources for the common good today and on the long term

• a forward-looking utilisation of resources based on the least possible extraction of limited resources

• a decentralised society where everyone has the same chance of exerting real influence on his/her own situation

• a society based on solidarity and respect for everyone

• a society that looks after and builds on ecological, cultural and humandiversity

Many people associate Nature and Youth with civil disobedience. However, there are only a few members who have taken part in such campaigns. The ones who take part in campaigns involving civil disobedience are given thorough advance training and participation is of course voluntary. The organisation works first and foremost on specific problems. Priority is given to the following areas

• continuing to oppose Norwegian membership of the EU/EEA

• environmental work on the Kola Peninsula and in Norwegian companies abroad

• fighting policies that can lead to climatic changes

• food security and agricultural policy

• the threat to nature conservation areas in Norway

• fighting against environmentally hostile transport and for the alternatives

• waste, resources in the wrong place

Inky Arms and his Eco-Detectives

Inky Arms and his Eco-Detectives is a good example of how, by using a mixture of information, awareness raising and practical action, one can get small children to be better environmental protectors.” This is how the Prime Minister described Norway´s only conservationist club for children, Inky Arms and his Eco-Detectives, in a speech to the Norwegian Storting. The object of the organisation is to motivate children who are interested in environmental protection by giving them a sense of community and letting them know that they are not the only ones who think about the environment, but that they are part of a larger whole in which we are all responsible, regardless of age and size. Inky Arms and his Eco-Detectives became an independent organisation in 1994 after Bente Roestad had been given the chance to present her fantasy figure “Inky Arms” on television and radio and in book form. The response was so overwhelming that the Norwegian Society for the Conservation of Nature helped to channel this interest into a club for children. Today, Inky Arms and his Eco-Detectives is an independent organisation, the Norwegian Society for the Conservation of Nature´s children´s organisation, built up on democratic lines. The club´s 10,000 members are between five and thirteen years of age. More than 25 local branches have been formed throughout Norway. If something is wrong, children waste no time in saying so. For this reason, it is important for Inky Arms to keep in touch with the members. Five employees at headquarters serve the members. They endeavour to channel the children´s interest towards something they can do themselves or help to influence, for example, in their immediate environment, at school or nursery school, or at home. It is surprising just how much influence a young enthusiast can exercise on his or her surroundings. The best way to motivate children is probably to tell them about our fantastic planet and all its incredible creatures. The Inky Arms organisers thus try not to focus too much on environmental disasters and grim prophecies, but if members ask questions, they are given honest answers. Members of Inky Arms and his Eco-Detectives receive a club magazine (Blekka for members under 10 and Flaskeposten for members over 10) eight times a year. These contain articles about animals, environmental matters, the rain forest and a great deal about what children can do themselves. Everyone who writes or sends drawings to Inky Arms gets an answer.