From Millennium Development Goals to Sustainable Development Goals

By Ojuka Vincent Ochieng 

Department of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) – KOEE

The global community, under the leadership of the United Nations (UN), developed the millennium development goals (MDGs) in the year 2000 in order to address most of the prevalent world challenges including hunger, diseases and gender equality among others. These goals were adopted for action by all UN member countries for a period of 15 years. The MDGs established measurable, universally agreed objectives for tackling extreme poverty and hunger, preventing deadly diseases, and expanding primary education to all children, among other development priorities. During the 15 years, the MDGs drove progress in several important areas: reducing income poverty, providing much needed access to water and sanitation, driving down child mortality and drastically improving maternal health. They also kick-started a global movement for free primary education, inspiring countries to invest in their future generations. Most significantly, the MDGs made huge strides in combating HIV/AIDS and other treatable diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis (United Nations Development program, 2016).

With the increasing population and development demands by many countries alongside other world challenges, there came a need to re-evaluate the impacts that has come along with it. Subsequently, sustainable development goals (SDGs) were incepted and adopted in 2015 by the UN member countries. The goals are an extension of the MDGs, which incorporate the comprehensive objectives of addressing the development needs of the world with consideration for the environmental and societal challenges that come with it.

While theMDGs focused only on 8 goals, 21 targets and 63 indicators, SDGs in contrast have 17 goals with 169 targets and 230 indicators. The goals are to be achieved by 2030, coinciding with major global treaties such as the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, among others. The SDGs can be grouped according to the following key themes: People, Planet and Prosperity, with Partnerships and Peace cutting across all the goals (United Nations, 2015). 

Source: Office of the senior special assistant to president Nigeria OSSAP, SDGs on Twitter

The goals concerned with People seek to address poverty, hunger, quality education and gender equality. Prosperity is tackled by the goals on decent work and economic growth, industry innovation andinfrastructure, sustainable communities. Planet is addressed by the goals on climate action, life on land and below water. The SDGs are a bold commitment to finish what was started by the MDGs, and tackle some of the more pressing challenges facing the world today. All 17 Goals are interconnected, meaning success in one affects success for others.

Global goals such as the MDGs and the SDGs complement international conventions and other tools by providing a globally shared framework that fosters collaboration across countries, mobilizes all stakeholders, and inspires action. Applied well, the SDGs are ambitious in making sure no one is left behind as development advances and key challenges are tackled. 


Office of Senior Special Assistant to President Nigeria, SDGs on twitter (2018), 5Ps for Sustainable Development

United Nations Development Program (2016), From the MDGs to Sustainable Development for All

United Nations (2015), Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development 

Education for Sustainable Development in Kenya

By David Wandabi – Programs Officer – Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) & Eco-schools Coordinator, KOEE

The Kenya Constitution 2010 prioritizes Sustainable Development as a National Goal. The Government of Kenya has therefore, an obligation to lead all citizens towards attaining this goal. The Government is committed to promoting ESD as a key factor in enabling sustainable development and quality education by implementing the Rio Conventions, UNESCO Global Action Programme (GAP) and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (Ministry of Education, 2017)

The country endorsed and adopted Agenda 21 that emerged from the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 (UN, 1992). Chapter 36 of Agenda 21 elaborated the need for ESD.

The Environmental Management and Coordination Act 1999, Cap 387 is a framework law that provides for effective coordination and regulation of all actions that have a direct influence on the environment. Section 42 (4) of the Basic Education Act stipulates that ‘the Cabinet Secretary of Education shall upon advice of the National Education Board advise the government on the promotion of environmental protection education for sustainable development’. 

Kenya’s development blueprint, Vision 2030, aspires to revitalize the country’s economic growth through harnessing of its natural resources. Education is identified as a key driver under the social pillar. The inspiration was to have an ESD policy developed and all education interventions reoriented to address ESD. 

The 2013-2018 National Education Sector Plan (NESP)[1] provides a strategy for education and training to promote ESD with reference to the United Nations Global Action Programme on ESD. This led to the development of ESD Policy for the Education Sector in 2017. The policy provides, promotes and co-ordinates quality lifelong education, training, research and innovation for Kenya’s sustainable development.

Broadly, the following achievements have been realised with regard to the status of ESD in Kenya. Stakeholders for sustainable development are increasingly taking up education, public awareness and training to advance sustainable development. Secondly, the Government has incorporated education strategies, tools and targets into national sustainable development strategies, climate change plans and related economic frameworks such as the Green Economy. Thirdly, partnerships, collaborations and networks, for example, Regional Centres of Expertise (RCEs) have been formed to enhance the implementation of ESD. And finally, several teachers and education officials have been trained and a number of schools are practising ESD.

Kenya has been putting emphasis on approaches that promote whole-institution development of ESD such as Eco-schools and Green Campus. The Eco-schools Programme has been quoted in the Kenya ESD Policy for Education Sector 2017 as an effective whole institution approaches in mainstreaming sustainability into all aspects of the learning environment (ESD Policy for Education Sector 2017, Pg 5)

Sessional Paper No. 4 of 2012 on Reforming Education and Training in Kenya envisages a curriculum that is competence-based to foster quality education in the country (Republic of Kenya, 2015a). Through this policy, the Ministry of Education is committed to promoting ESD as a key element to enable sustainable development and quality education. To this effect, Kenya is currently rolling out a new Competency Based Curriculum for primary and secondary schools. The new curriculum has sections that deliberately show how ESD can be integrated into the curriculum as a pertinent and emerging issue. 

Educators and trainers are powerful agents of change for implementing ESD UNESCO, 2014). The education sector has increased financial support for capacity development activities and strengthened the Kenya Education Management Institute (KEMI), the agency for building capacities of education managers. The Centre for Mathematics, Science and Technology Education in Africa (CEMASTEA) has been offering pedagogical leadership training to support teachers in implementing effective and innovative classroom practices. CEMASTEA has also been sensitising education and quality assurance officers and County Education Directors on effective management of sustainable and institutionalised in-service education and training of teachers (INSET). Development partners have continued to complement government efforts towards capacity enhancement of education managers (Ministry of Education, 2017)

Regional Centres of Expertise (RCEs) in Kenya have provided useful platforms for capacity building in the sector. As networks of formal, non-formal and informal education organisations, RCEs are catalysing and supporting the reorientation of education and training systems in their regions. The Education Sector is represented in each of the eight Regional Centres of Expertise (RCEs) that are operating in Kenya. 

Despite all the milestones made in enhancing ESD in Kenya, improvement of quality of education at all levels of education still remains a challenge towards attaining ESD in all its facets. The ESD Post 2014 Consultation Report of 2013[2] for the “ESD: towards a programme framework after 2014 Survey reports that the overarching priority education areas and levels are teacher education, technical vocational education and training (TVET) and basic education (primary and secondary education).


Ministry of Education. (2017). Education for Sustainable Development Policy for the Education Sector. Nairobi: UNON Publishing Services Section.


[2] : Education for Sustainable Development: towards a programme framework as follow-up to the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development after 2014

 Input from online survey for Member States, Key Stakeholders and UN Agencies   

Eco-schools: Building Capacity of Educators and Trainers for Sustainable Development

KOEE's Executive Director, Dr. Dorcas Otieno, during an Eco-schools Teachers' training workshop on promoting green economy development in schools. 
Photo. Alvin Sika
KOEE’s Executive Director, Dr. Dorcas Otieno, during an Eco-schools Teachers’ training workshop on promoting green economy development in schools. Photo. Alvin Sika

Educators and trainers are powerful agents of change in helping to remake the education sector to address sustainability and enhance the role of education and learning in sustainable development projects and initiatives.  Teachers can be a tremendous force brought to the task, as teachers worldwide number around 70 million, and the corps of trainers and informal educators is virtually countless. But for educators and trainers to help usher in the transition to a sustainable society, they themselves must first become confident in practicing ESD (UNESCO, 2014). They must be empowered to facilitate confidently and effectively students, trainees and other learners to acquire the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values to contribute to sustainable development. They themselves need to acquire knowledge about, commitment to, and motivation for sustainable development.

As the world prepares to mark the World Teachers Day (                WTD) on October 5th, it is important to stress the importance empowering teachers to be agents of sustainable development.  World Teachers’ Day commemorates the anniversary of the adoption of the 1966 ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers. This Recommendation sets benchmarks regarding the rights and responsibilities of teachers and standards for their initial preparation and further education, recruitment, employment, and teaching and learning conditions. The World Teachers Day aims to focus on appreciating, assessing and improving the educators of the world and to provide an opportunity to consider issues related to teachers and teaching (UNESCO, 2019).

With the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goal 4 on education, and the dedicated target (SDG 4.c) recognizing teachers as key to the achievement of the Education 2030 agenda, WTD has become the occasion to mark progress and reflect on ways to counter the remaining challenges for the promotion of the teaching profession. World Teachers’ Day is co-convened in partnership with UNICEF, UNDP, the International Labour Organization, and Education International.

This year, the World Teachers’ Day will celebrate teachers with the theme, “Young Teachers: The future of the Profession.” The day provides the occasion to celebrate the teaching profession worldwide, to take stock of achievements, and to address some of the issues central for attracting and keeping the brightest minds and young talents in the profession.

Eco-schools Kenya has teacher training as one of its core strategies to enhance sustainability in schools and communities. As one of the steps of the Eco-schools process, over 15,000 teachers have gone through an extensive training course since 2003 to act as Eco-Schools ambassadors. The teachers encourage other schools to effectively address local environmental problems through action based learning following the principles of Eco-Schools. 

In close cooperation with teachers and key governmental institutions the Eco-Schools project has developed wide range of environmental education materials for teachers and learners that comply with Kenyan curriculum requirements to treat environment as a cross curricula issue. The new Kenyan Competency-based Curriculum being rolled out by the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development places great emphasis on environmental education as a pertinent and emerging issue. Eco-schools Kenya has developed environmental theme-packs for primary and secondary schools and made available to schools. The theme-packs cover the following issues; water, waste, energy, health, biodiversity and agriculture. Other resource materials developed include: Eco-Schools Handbook Starter Pack (information manual on the Eco-schools programme in Kenya), Teachers’ Environmental Education Guides for primary and Secondary schools, Training Module on Environmental Education and Eco-Schools Documentary video. A Faith-based ESD Toolkit has also been developed to enhance the faith-based value system and positive behaviour in the school and community to promote sustainable development using the eco-school strategy. It also demonstrates how faith-based values can be integrated into Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in the primary school curriculum. Similarly, a teacher’s guidebook has been developed to help transform schools into models of sustainability for communities by instilling in learners a greening culture through mentoring and engaging them in hands-on green entrepreneurship initiatives for sustainability. The guide aims at enhancing the ability of teachers to mainstream green growth in the curriculum. All these materials have acted as tools and resources through which schools use to address sustainability challenges facing them. The materials have been widely acknowledged by relevant authorities in the Kenyan educational sector.


UNESCO. (2014). Roadmap for Implementing the Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development. Paris, France: UNESCO.

UNESCO. (2019, September 27). World Teachers’ Day. Retrieved September 27, 2019, from UNESCO:

Faith-based Education for Sustainable Development

By David Wandabi – Programs Officer – Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) & Eco-schools Coordinator, KOEE

The search for a sustainable and just future, not just for humanity but for all life on Earth, has become one of the most pressing issues of the 21st century. Experience has shown that just giving information about education for sustainable development may not be effective in producing the lasting change in behaviour patterns. Mainstreaming faith-based values in education for sustainable development is perhaps the surest way to achieving this. Faith-based values can make a significant contribution towards the wise use of natural resources since they help propagate values of common humanity (Kenya Organization for Environmental Education, 2015). It has been argued that the environmental crisis of our times is a reflection of a spiritual and moral crisis. It has thus been contended that the loss of a moral and spiritual conscience provides the basis for the over-exploitation of the environment, without any consideration for other living creatures or for the ability of future generations to make a living, thereby defying God’s plan for human beings to be good stewards of the environment.

Given that many Africans are sentimental to their religious beliefs, a possible strategy to minimize the environmental degradation in Africa is to link environmental education and sensitisation with the belief system of various people, be they Christians, Muslims or other traditional worshippers. Former UN Assistant Secretary-General, Olav Kjørven, once described faiths as “potentially the biggest civil society movement on climate change in history” and “the biggest mobilisation of people and communities that we have ever seen on this issue.” With this came a new recognition faiths have a crucial role to play in protecting our planet. Nowhere is this truer than in Africa – where more than 90% of the Continent’s population describe themselves as either Christian or Muslim. For example, out of a population of 819 million people in sub-Saharan Africa, 470 million are Christian and 234 million are Muslim (Alliance of Religions and Conservation, 2012). Moreover, faith draws huge influence and trust, often trusted where, governments and military are not. Faith is crucial to the challenge of changing perceptions and behaviour if there is to be a co-ordinated response to protecting our planet.

Religion plays out its role in environmental conservation and protection by its beliefs and teachings; it guides the relationship between man and nature, it offers moral framework. The major religions; Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism have adopted similar approaches or traditions that are geared towards environmental conservation. These are: dominion: humans at the top of Creation and using natural resources as needed; Stewardship: humans having a delegate dominion over Creation and being responsible and accountable for their use of natural resources, empathy: nature is affected by human misbehaviour and God and worship: nature gives glory to God and nature is sacred. These approaches correlate and they all complement each other (Ecolife, 2017)

A comparative analysis conducted by Kenya Organization for Environmental Education (KOEE) and the Alliance of Regions and Conservation (ARC) in project aimed at mainstreaming religious values into education in Kenya in 2015; revealed that the faith-based values in relation to Environmental Care and sustainable development are similar across faiths (KOEE, 2015). An illustration of the faith-based values is outlined in Table 1.

Table 1: Faith-based Values on Care for Creation

Christian ValuesIslamic ValuesHindu ValuesAfrican TraditionalReligion Values 
Respect (care for God’s creation)Respect and care for Allah’s creationRespect for God’s creationRespect for allCreation
Peace (Living in peace)Unity of Allah’s creation(Tawhid)God is in everything (All-pervading God is the soleCreator
Stewardship (Custodian of environment)Khilafa(Steward/ Custodian) of environmentEverything should be reveredHumankind is creation’s caretaker
Accountability (Responsibility for preserving the earth)(Akhirah) accountability for preserving the earthStewardship/care/love for natureCollective responsibility in conservation
Harmony (Living in harmony with Nature) Living in harmony with Nature Consider earth as mother and protect her Protection of sacred plants and animals 
Wisdom (Wise use of resources)Wise use of resourcesLiving in peace/ harmony with natureJudicious use of human and natural resources
Justice (Fairness in use of resources)Fairness in use of resourcesMaintaining nature’s  integrity(preserving nature)Equality for all (classless society)
Caring for the needyCaring for the needyUphold justice for all as all is seen as aspects of  divinitySharing with the less fortunate in society
Faith (Conviction for conservation of God’s Creation)Showing mercy on Allah’s creation Responsibility/accountability in managing the universeCare for resources to benefit human kind 
Honesty (doing what we say)Maintaining Ecological Integrity (Mizan)Wise and benign  use of resourcesBalance in nature for Conservation

Source (KOEE, 2015).Faith-based Education for Sustainable Development: Teacher’s Toolkit

Even though some work has been done across Africa to address the aforementioned sustainable development issues; the area of mainstreaming faith-based education for sustainable development in education still remains not fully explored (ARC, 2012). Mainstreaming faith-based ESD into school curriculum can can make a significant contribution towards the wise use of natural resources since they help propagate the Earth Charter principles of: respecting the Earth and life in its diversity; caring for the community of life with understanding, compassion and love; building democratic societies that are just, participatory, sustainable and peaceful and securing the Earth’s bounty and beauty for the present and future generations. Religion can be a powerful inspiration for environmental conservation and protection among learners; born from the fact that almost all religions uphold protection of the Earth’s diversity and its beauty as a sacred trust given to man by God. Faiths can champion environmental sustainability through schools by integrating religious values that enhance environmental conservation, particularly considering the great influence they have on the learning institutions as well as the communities from which they draw membership. Thus as strategy for sustainability, faith-based ESD takes recognition of this potential in religions can enhance attainment of education for sustainable development. 


Alliance of Religions and Conservation. (2012). Many Heavens One Earth: Stories of African Faith Commitments. Bath, U.K.: ARC.

Ecolife. (2017, March 14). Role of Religion in Environmental Conservation. Retrieved September 27, 2017, from Ecolife Kenya:

Kenya Organization for Environmental Education. (2015). Faith-Based Education for Sustainable Development: Teacher’s Toolkit. Nairobi: KOEE.

Earth Warming More Quickly than Thought

By David Wandabi – Programs Officer – Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) & Eco-schools Coordinator, Kenya Organization for Environmental Education

Dead livestock due to effects of drought in Marsabit, Kenya. Scientists say the earth is warming faster than thought

Dead livestock due to effects of drought in Marsabit, Kenya. Scientists say the earth is warming faster than thought.

Greenhouse gases releases into the atmosphere mainly by burning fossil fuels are warming Earth’s surface more quickly than previously understood, according to new climate models set to replace those used in current UN projections, scientists have said.

By 2100, average temperatures could rise 7.0 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, if carbon emissions continue unabated, separate models from two leading research centres in France showed. That is up to two degrees higher than the equivalent scenario in the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change’s (IPCC) 2014 benchmark 5thAssessment Report.

The new calculations also suggest that the Paris Agreement goals of capping global warming at well below two degrees, and 1.5C if possible, will be challenging at best, the scientists said. Recent two models by Olivier Boucher, head of the Institute Pierre Simon Laplace Climate Modelling Centre in Paris, show the scenario known as SSP1 2.6 – which normally allows us to stay under 2C – doesn’t quite get the world there. 

With only one degree Celsius of warming so far, the world is coping with increasingly deadly heat waves, droughts, floods and tropical cyclones made more destructive by rising seas. A new generation of 30-odd climate models known collectively as CMIP6 – including the two unveiled Tuesday — will underpin the IPCC’s next major report in 2021.

Joeri Rogelj, an associate professor at Imperial College London and an IPCC lead author, recently told Agence France-Presse (AFP), CMIP6 clearly includes the latest modelling improvements, even as important uncertainties remain. These include increased supercomputing power and sharper representations of weather systems, natural and man-made particles, and how clouds evolve in a warming world.

The scientists say we have better models now which have better resolution, and represent current climate trends more accurately. A core finding of the new models is that increased levels of CO2 in the atmosphere will warm Earth’s surface more, and more easily, than earlier calculations had suggested. If confirmed, this higher equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS), means humanity’s carbon budget is likely to shrink.

The French models are the first to be released according to Piers Forster, Director of the Priestley International Centre for Climate at the University of Leeds. Though, other models developed independently have come to the same unsettling conclusion according to Boucher. Some of the most respected ones from the United States and Britain’s Met Office also show a higher ECS than the previous generation of models. 

This can never be good news for the fight against global warming, which continues to face strong political headwinds and institutional inertia despite a rapid upsurge of public awareness and concern globally. 

According to the new models, a higher ECS means a greater likelihood of reaching higher levels of global warming, even with deeper emissions cuts. Boucher and two British scientists, Stephen Belcher from the UK Met Office and Rowan Sutton from the UK National Centre for Atmospheric Science, wrote in a blog earlier this year, tiptoeing around the implications of the new models.

Higher warming would allow less time to adapt and mean a greater likelihood of passing climate ‘tipping points’ such as thawing of permafrost, which would further accelerate warming. A third to 99% of top-layer permafrost could melt by 2100 if carbon pollution is not abated, releasing billions of tonnes of greenhouse gases into the air, according to a draft IPCC special report on oceans and Earth’s frozen zones.

The scientists point out that unfortunately, our global failure to implement meaningful action on climate change over recent decades has put us in a situation where what we need to do to keep warming to safe levels is extremely simple. Global greenhouse gas emissions need to decline today rather than tomorrow, and global CO2 emissions should be brought to net zero.

The 2014 basket of climate models show Earth warming on current trends an additional 3C by 2100, and at least 2C even if national carbon cutting pledges are all met. The new two French climate models, including one from France’s National Centre for Meteorological Research (CNRM), were unveiled recently at a press conference in Paris.

Eco-schools and SDGS

By David Wandabi – Programs Officer – Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) & Eco-schools Coordinator, KOEE

#SDG 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

Quality Education

The Eco-Schools methodology is a powerful tool for providing quality education for sustainable development at all school levels. Its whole institutional approach (WIA) ensures an inclusive implementation throughout the whole kindergarten, school or campus, and the involvement of all children and students.

Eco-schools Kenya employ a whole institutional approach that uses schools as entry points to reach communities through pupils, teachers, parents, non-teaching staff, all departments and other stakeholders of the school to address local challenges of sustainable development. WIA requires not only the reorientation of teaching content and methodology, but also school and facility management that is in line with sustainable development as well as the cooperation of the institution with sustainable development stakeholders in the community (UNESCO, 2016). Eco-schools strategy acknowledges that all departments in a school need to synergize for sustainable development action. 

Some of the benefits of the WIA include: efficient use of resources hence the institution saves money, greening of school grounds, creating extra source of income from the micro-projects, creation of environmental awareness, development of desirable skills and attitudes for sustainable development, development of a sense of belonging in the school and ownership of sustainability initiatives, enabling acquisition of new professional learning opportunities by the teachers, providing opportunity to have hands on learning opportunity using sustainable development micro-projects, contribution to solving local development challenges by the school and community and thus reducing their ecological footprints significantly and strengthening relationships with families and local community (UNESCO, 2016).

Whole Institutional Approach Case Study

An Eco-school that best demonstrates the whole institutional approach is Watema Primary School. The school is located in Kaiti Sub-county in Makueni County of Kenya. It has a student population of 463 (239 boys and 213 girls) with 15 teachers. 

School governance

The school has an inclusive Eco-committee including the head teacher, Eco-schools coordinator, representatives from school board of management, parents and pupil representative from all classes. Additionally, the school has also co-opted a civil society representative in the committee. Being in arid area, the committee is proactive in guiding the school on how to get the best out of their environment to make learning as enjoyable as possible.

Facilities and Operations

The school has strived in making itself a model of sustainability in the area, embracing a number of green initiatives to promote self-reliance in the community in order to eradicate poverty in the area.  The school has two solar panels to supplement electricity to cut energy costs. The school has four roof water harvesting tanks with a capacity of 10,000 litres each to supplement their water which they get from a dam outside the school. With the area having erratic rainfall patterns, the water harvesting system ensures the school has water for drinking, cooking, washing hands and watering plants for over two months. The water has enabled the school grow vegetables, sweet potatoes and fruit trees for food and income generation. The school also grows fodder to make hay for sale. The school has a nursery for indigenous trees to provide seedlings for sale. The harvested water has also been used to construct hand wash facilities near the toilets to enhance sanitation and hygiene.

The main outcomes of the green initiatives are:

  • The pupils have been able to learn practical skills in the conservation of the environment.
  • The pupils have been taught ways of being self-reliant through starting green enterprise for income generation.
  • The community has been enlightened on the importance of green entrepreneurship for sustainable development.

Teaching and Learning

The Eco-school initiatives have enhanced teaching of sustainable development issues in all subject areas in the school as teachers use the projects as teaching and learning resources. Students are provided with an opportunity to learn issues like enterprise development, water harvesting, tree nursery development, irrigation among others which offers them a platform to create green jobs.  This has helped in propagating the teaching of critical, creative and futures thinking as students are challenged to be innovative in finding practical solutions to their local challenges. In this way, the pupils are contributing to solving local development challenges and thus reducing their ecological footprints.

Community Partnerships

The school is working with community members in implementing the projects for learning and teaching. Community members and groups visit the school to buy vegetables, tree seedlings and fodder and the school has also influenced other schools around them to embrace environmental conservation. Additionally, the school is working closely with the County Government of Makueni which donated two water harvesting tanks to the school to support the Eco-school initiative. The school uses local experts from the community to teach the students on various farming technologies. 

Roof water harvesting system, solar and vegetable gardening projects implemented in partnership with the community at Watema Primary School


UNESCO (2016). Getting Climate Ready: A Guide for Schools on Climate Action. UNESCO.Paris.

Eco-schools Program and Poverty Reduction

By David Wandabi – Programs Officer – Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) & Eco-schools Coordinator, KOEE

Students from Goibei High School packing honey from school hives for sale
Photo Credits : Alvin Sika, KOEE
Students from Kariobangi South Primary School showing items made from recycled bottle-tops for sale. Photo Credits : Alvin Sika, KOEE

Educational changes necessary for poverty reduction should not only be content-related but require approaches to teaching and learning that are transformative, community-engaged and relevant to contemporary and future societies- quality education (UNESCO, 2013).  Such changes need to be infused by values and ethics that are counter-hegemonic and different to the ‘norm’. Based upon experiences of Kenya Eco-schools Program in formal education in Kenyan primary and secondary schools, it has led toimproved teacher quality and professionalism, enhanced learning environments, innovative curricular approaches, improved school management capacity, and better accountability systems as some of the key drivers of quality education that has helped alleviate extreme poverty by formal education over the decade (Otieno, 2015).

Eco-Schools framework provides numerous opportunities to enhance learner-centred education, through contextualization of learning, through strengthening school-community interactions/partnerships and through enabling active involvement of learners in decision making and a range of contextually meaningful Eco-schools practices. This enables creation of a nexus between formal, informal and non-formal learning (Odek, 2006).

The Eco-schools programme promotes Climate Change Education for Sustainable Agribusiness Development and Risk management(CCESDAR) strategy that provides a useful tool to address challenges of poverty, unemployment and food insecurity in technical, entrepreneurial and industrial training institutes (TVETs) (UNICEF, 2013). Investment in greeningof schools and communities has helped in addressing poverty and unemployment especially among the youths. This has been seen in innovations in agriculture for increased production and value addition developed, e.g. active school gardens for food production using improved farming methods such as organic farming and mulching. This has helped increase food production, make savings for the schools and impart practical skills among learners for survival. Rain water harvesting promoted in schools – has created jobs for artisans, clean water for schools and communities. Biogas technology promoted for green energy, has created jobs for artisans, produces slurry for organic farming and reduces greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) Emissions. Green jobs have also been witnessed in nursery establishment and tree planting in the schools.


Odeke, G.J.E. (2006). Eco-Schools. Completion report for pilot phase 1 for Kenya: Nairobi (Unpublished report), Kenya Organisation for Environmental Education.

Otieno, D.and Odeke, G.Eco-Schools Handbook Starter Pack, Nairobi: Romlan Publishers and Cincom Systems, 2006.

Otieno, D. Faith Based ESD Toolkit, Nairobi: Jacaranda Designs, 2013.

UNESCO.National Journeys Towards ESD, Paris: UNESCO, 2013

UNICEF. Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction in the Education Sector: Resource Manual, New York: UNICEF, 2013.

The Evolution of Corporate Sustainability in Kenya

By Lorraine Dixon

Business, Environment and Sustainability Specialist – KOEE

Source: TheGivingMachine

Against the backdrop of a shrinking natural resource base and societies shackled by inequality, the role of business in helping to drive sustainable development is under more scrutiny than ever before.The engagement of business with sustainability first began through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). There is no universally accepted definition of CSR.  A 2009 publication on CSR in sub-Saharan Africa by the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (GTZ, 2009), states that: CSR refers to the accountability of corporates, to both shareholders and stakeholders for their utilization of resources, for their means of production, for their treatment of workers and consumers and for their impact on the social and ecological environment in which they operate. Cheruiyot and Tarus (2016) defined CSR in Kenya as the long-term commitment of organizations to social, economic,  legal and environmental rights  and responsible outcomes  for  the sustainability of humanity.

CSR in Kenya has long been characterised by voluntary actions of a philanthropic nature, particularly directed towards challenges of persistent poverty, poor access to education, health care, water and sanitation facilities, as well as food insecurity. However, there has been a slow shift to addressing employee and environmental issues, in the pursuit of sustainability, as reflected in global trends. 

A recent study revealed that most business managers attribute their sustainability initiatives and practices to the need to mitigate their company‘s social and environmental impacts, while some use the initiatives to improve brand image, build trust, and reputation (KCIC Research, 2018). There has been growing recognition of international instruments and networks that aim at consolidating business efforts towards embracing sustainability. The UN Global Compact is an example of this, and it supports companies to do business responsibly by aligning their strategies and operations with Ten Principles on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption; and take strategic actions to advance broader societal goals, such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals, with an emphasis on collaboration and innovation.

The Global Compact Network Kenya (GNCK) was first launched in 2005 with the strategic objective of spearheading and catalysing actions aimed at promoting good business practices by building capacity and awareness of ethics, integrity and Corporate Social Responsibility in furtherance of the UN Global Compact‘s Ten principles. Only 140 companies are participating in the GCNK, indicating a gap in understanding and uptake of corporate sustainability by Kenyan businesses. 

Globally, the last 20 years has seen the emergence of a new approach to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), with companies recognizing that improving their own impacts and addressing wider sustainable development challenges social and environmental problems will be crucial in securing their long-term success.The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) explicitly call on all businesses to apply their creativity and innovation to solve sustainable development challenges. As the SDGs form the global agenda for the development of societies, they allow companies to demonstrate how their business helps to advance sustainable development, both by minimizing negative impacts and maximizing positive impacts on people and the planet (GRI, UN Global Compact &WBCSD, 2015).

Increasingly, high profile companies are implementing CSR processes such as public commitment to standards, community investment, continuous improvement, stakeholder engagement and corporate reporting on social and environmental performance. This has resulted in a transition of some companies’ efforts under the umbrella of Corporate Shared Value (CSV). This is defined as “policies and operating practices that enhance the competitiveness of a company while simultaneously advancing the economic and social conditions in the communities in which it operates.” (Porter & Kramer, 2011) Three key ways that companies can create shared value opportunities are by reconceiving products and markets; by redefining productivity in the value chain; and by enabling local cluster development (Porter & Kramer, 2011). 

Source: The Partnering Group

Safaricom is an example of a Kenyan company that has embraced the concept of CSV. Safaricom is the biggest telecommunications company in the country providing voice, text, data and mobile money transfer services. The company leverages the power of mobile technology to deliver shared value propositions that disrupt inefficiencies and impact lives positively in the health, agriculture and education sectors (Safaricom, 2019). DigiFarm, the company’s integrated agriculture platform that helps agribusinesses and smallholder farmers share information and transact, won the Shared Value Award at the August 2018 Loeries Awards held in South Africa. Safaricome started the process of integrating nine of the 17 SDGs into its core business strategy in 2016. Its nine priority goals are the goals related to health; education; affordable and clean energy; decent work and economic growth; innovation and infrastructure; reducing inequalities; responsible consumption and production; climate action; peace and justice and partnerships. The company also hosted the Africa Shared Value Summit in Nairobi in May 2019, which attracted participants from 18 countries. 

Therefore as the corporate sustainability landscape changes, it is important to recognise the need for awareness creation and education on the important role business has to play in sustainable development, not only for society, but also for itself. This will help empower the sector in Kenya to embrace sustainability in a more holistic manner.  


Cheruiyot, T.K., and Tarus, D.K. (2016).CorporateSocialResponsibility  inKenya: Blessing,CurseorNecessaryEvil?

GRI, UN Global Compact, and WBCSD.(2015). SDG Compass: The Guide for Business Action on the SDGs. 

GTZ. (2009). Built-in or bolted-on Corporate Social Responsibility in sub-Saharan Africa: A survey on promoting and hindering factors.

KCIC Research. (2018). Public and Private Sector Perceptions of Sustainability in Kenya: Practice, Barriers, Stakeholder Participation. 

Nyaga R.N. (2016). Mainstreaming Corporate Social Responsibility for Environmental and Social Development in Kenya.

Porter, M. E., & Kramer, M.R. (2011). Creating Shared Value How to reinvent capitalism and unleash a wave of innovation and growth. Harvard Business Review, January-February 2011.

Safaricom (2019). Towards Reducing Inequalities: 2019 Sustainable Business Report.

MAKINI SCHOOL – KIBOS Promoting Green Enterprise Development in Schools

Makini School Kibos campus was founded in 2012 and comprises Classes 4 to 8.The school is located on a vast piece of land of about 600 acres overlooking the magnificent Nandi Hills. It is about 4 kilometers from Kisumu City. The school strives to mould its learners into top performers not only in academics but in whatever they pursue. The learners are taught important values such as integrity and discipline as well as skills such as critical thinking and problem solving that are all key in today’s evolving world. The school has a population of 422 pupils of which 101 are in boarding. There are 27 teachers and 41 support staff. 

Even though the main Makini School Nairobi campus joined the Eco-schools program in 2007, the Kibos campus joined in 2017. However, the school has always been keen in promoting environmental conservation evidenced by the several green projects in the schools. These projects are usually spearheaded by the environmental club. The main objective of the club is to empower children with knowledge, skills and values necessary for environmental conservation and to equip them with life skills.

As part of the Eco-school activities, the school has a number of student-centered environmental projects. Some of the projects include; rabbitry, poultry keeping, indigenous vegetables farming, orchard farming, waste recycling, tree growing and water harvesting. All students, teachers, school management and at times community members participate in the implementation of these noble environmental projects. The projects are aimed enhancing learner engagement in environmental activities and improving the learning environment. The projects are also a response to climate change and also aim at making the school self-sufficient. The school gets most of its fruits, vegetables, eggs and chicken meat from the projects.  The orchard also serves as the resource center for extension learning within the school as it is learning and teaching resource.

Due to the school’s exemplary projects, the school was included in a project aimed at promoting green enterprise development in schools dubbed Schools Green Challenge from 2017-2018. The challenge was implemented under a collaborative partnership between KOEE and Micro Enterprises Support Programme Trust (MESPT) as part of the Eco-schools Programme. The school emerged as winners among 12 other participating schools. As part of the Challenge, the school ventured into fish farming. The school has 2 fish ponds each with 900 tilapia fish and 100 cat fish for population control. The school now produces over 10,000 fish after every 6 months. This is targeted for about 40,000 consumers when harvested at the same time. 

The school has about 100 students who board. This provides the fish business with ready market as the school serves fish every Wednesday and Friday of the week for the borders. With the school spending about Kshs. 20,000 (190 USD) on fish per week, this is a sure weekly income for the project. 

Through the projects, the school has been able to inspire the students to be eco-entrepreneurs. The school strives to be a sustainability and climate action model school by indulging into climate smart actions. For instance they organically grow their food which is irrigated using harvested rain water. This cuts their carbon footprint in the long run. 

The killer weed – Cuscuta Japonica

By Ojuka Vincent Ochieng 

Department of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) – KOEE

A tree in Wote town, Makueni County, invaded by field dodderCredit: Nation Media Group

One of the current emerging environmental challenges globally is invasive species and their associated impacts. A species is considered to be  invasive if it has been introduced by human action to a location, area, or region where it did not previously occur naturally and it becomes capable of establishing a breeding population in the new location without further intervention by humans; Global invasive species programme (GISP, 2004).An invasive alien species is also a non-native species both plants and animalswhose introduction causes or is likely to cause economic harm, environmental harm, or harm to human health among others.

Cuscuta japonica commonly referred as Japanese Dodder is an invasive species that is native to Eastern Asia, which is recorded as a significant weed of fruit and ornamental trees in Japan, China and neighboring countries. It is a typical parasitic dodder with yellowish vines 1-2 mm in diameter, almost devoid of chlorophyll and much branched. The vines twine anti-clockwise around the host stems and foliage. Recent research by the Biotechnology Department at Kenyatta University, characterized the invasive plant as one that is a ‘master of deceit’ and which at a glance present itself as an enviable canopy that most people want to have around, thus its continuous spread in most parts of the continent, Kenya included. As an adaptation modification, it has a wide range of host plants but is majorly associated with the yellow oleander trees (flowerbeds), found as home hedges in most rural homesteads. It also attacks bougainvillea plant species and other plant species.

Mangoes belonging to Dorothy Katilo, a farmer in Makueni County, invaded by Japonica Credit: Nation Media Group

Mangoes belonging to Dorothy Katilo, a farmer in Makueni County, invaded by Japonica Credit: Nation Media Group

In Kenya, the manifestation of the dodder has been majorly reported in Western Kenya by most farmers who fear that it will be an uncontrollable challenge to agricultural activities in the region if not addressed early by the concerned departments. With the climate change causing vulnerability to the agricultural sector, it is vital to look into measures that can be taken to prevent any anticipated impacts of Japonica in the country.

One of the recommended conventional ways of containing the spread and impacts of the weed is by physical removal and burning to ensure it does not dominate the host species. As a strategy for Education for Sustainable Development, it is important to increase awareness on the weed and its impacts by sharing the information on it to schools, churches among other social settings, as in most cases its lack of knowledge or ignorance that leads to the increased invasiveness and its problems. The education will also impart relevant skills and attitudes to be able to solve the invasive species challenges. Key to solution provisions is strategic partnerships by related and relevant civil society organizations, state agencies and international corporations in fighting this menace just like climate change fights and other contemporary environmental challenges.

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