Developing young environmentalists

“We teach children and young people how to take care of nature so that they will take responsibility for the environment when they grow up”, says project manager Joanna Handziak-Buczko from Wrocław in Poland.

Polish students learning about renewable energy sources in Wroclaw Poland

In a classroom in the school complex number 4 in the Polish city of Wrocław the students are in deep concentration. They are carefully studying and operating small models that are producing solar and wind power.

“One day we will run out of resources. Renewable energy will be the solution to generate heat and electricity for our daily lives,” says Sebastian Bogacz (18). Together with his classmate Piotr Łagocki (18) he is checking the solar panel model. Outside the window on the roof of the school real size solar collector is producing energy to heat up the water in the school.

“I want to work with renewable energy because we need to use this type of energy to save the planet,” says Piotr Łagocki.

Practical environmental knowledge
“At school, the children learn about biology, but they often do not get enough practical knowledge about how to take care of the nature and to protect the environment. That is where we come in,” explains Joanna Hadziak-Buczko from the life-long learning centre in Wrocław, who is managing the project on behalf of the municipality of Wrocław

With support from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, Handziak-Buczko and her colleagues are contributing to increase the quality and effects of education in biodiversity and protection of ecosystems in Poland.

Through the project ‘My green home’ more than 1000 children and young people aged 3-18 from three schools and one kindergarten in Wrocław get the chance to learn more about the importance of biodiversity, the economic value of ecosystems and the use of renewable energy sources.

“We show them for example how to sort garbage and what new products can be produced from recycled waste. We visit parks, forests, the botanical garden and the zoo. For young people it is easier to understand how their behaviour influences the environment if they go out and see it for themselves,” says Handziak-Buczko.

See more photos from the project in our media library.

Understanding the importance of biodiversity
Poland has an exceptionally rich nature and landscape. The country is a natural habitat for rare species on Europe-wide scale making it particularly responsible for the protection of natural heritage. According to economists, each year the EU lose €450 billion, due to the loss of biodiversity.

“To get long-term results, we think it is important to start educating children about the importance of biodiversity and protection of the environment from an early age. Then we have a better chance to create behaviour and attitudes that they will bring with them into adult life,” says Handziak-Buczko.

Two years ago, Wrocław city made it obligatory to recycle household waste. However, it takes time before the habit is established.

“Wroclaw wants to be greener and take care of its environment. This project is helping us to achieve that,” said Joanna Gondorek from the Municipality of Wrocław

Renewable energy in practice
Back in the classroom in in the school complex number 4, the teacher Maciej Popenda is showing and explaining how the solar collector is working. After the school installed the renewable energy equipment, students from other schools are coming here to learn about renewable energy.

“Before we got the grant from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, we could not teach anything else than theory as we had no devices. Now the education is much more practical and it is a great improvement,” the teacher says.

More information
The project ‘My green home’ is supported by a grant of € 528,254 from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway under the Polish programme for biodiversity and ecosystem services.
In Poland, the three donor countries also support the reduction of greenhouse gas emission and air pollutants, and mechanism to increase the use of renewable energy as well as the improvement of environmental monitoring.

Read more about the project ‘My green home’

Read about the ‘Biodiversity and ecosystem services’ programme in Poland

Read about the ‘Energy efficiency and renewable energy’ programme in Poland
Read about the ‘Improving environmental monitoring and inspection’ programme in Poland