Teaching kids to be environmentally aware around the globe

The Kids’ ISO 14000 project is an international program designed to help children reduce their environmental impact by educating them about the environment and ways in which they can help save it. Administered through schools, ISO 14000 is currently being implemented in Tokyo, Hokkaido, Mie, and a handful of other cities in Japan. Since its inception in 2000, 150,000 families have participated in the program, which is jointly administered by ArTech and the United Nations University.

The program has three stated goals, which are to: 1. Increase environmental awareness among kids and their families. 2. Master the methodology of environ­mental management based on their Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle, and 3. To work on regional and global issues both locally and internationally.

When children enter the program, they begin at the introductory level, using a standardized workbook along with supplementary teaching from trained in­structors, DVDs, and an online component to learn about the environment. For small children, informa­tion is presented in simple terms, such as saying “The earth has a fever” when talking about global warming. Kids are also encouraged to get involved by doing ac­tivities such as tracking basic information on family energy usage. Program instructors then evaluate the workbooks and successful students are awarded with a certificate or completion. Students continue on through four subsequent levels, including Primary, Middle, and Highest. In the Middle Level, children work in groups to solve regional issues, while at the Highest Level, students from around the world work together to address international issues.

The program is designed to work around the world, and in order to facilitate a sense of unity, program coordinators are asked not to change certain things about the workbooks, such as its look and feel, yet to allow various cultures to participate, certain sections can be translated into local languages and can also be changed to become more culturally specific.

So far, the program is proving very effective—ISO 14000 estimates that families who complete the program show a 60-80 percent increase in their environmental awareness, and lifestyle changes made as a direct result of the program have resulted in a 10-15 percent reduction in C02 emissions. For more information about this comprehensive program or to find out about bringing Kids’ ISO 14000 to your child’s school, visit www.artech.or.jp/english/kids/envedu/index.html.