Climate change, biodiversity loss and lack of opportunities are some of the problems that are increasingly impacting the Alpine region. In this context, youth tend to lose their relationship with the environment and abandon the mountains. Moreover, the loss of one’s Alpine identity is a potential consequence of this on a medium-term basis. This is a major threat to the future of the Alps since young people have a crucial role to play as future citizens and decision-makers in Alpine businesses, politics and sciences.
On this basis, Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in the Alps aims at instilling in young generations the awareness and knowledge of the cultural and natural heritage of the Alps in order to enhance existing opportunities for them and to create new ones. ESD in the Alps favors the development of competencies and attributes factors such as environmental awareness and nature-connectedness as key prerequisites to sustainable lifestyles in the mountains. ESD’s ultimate goal is to provide young people with the means not only to understand and face the current challenges of their territory, but also to anticipate future problems that they may face in the region.
“If education alone cannot solve current and future challenges, it can at least contribute to a new development model in a humanistic and holistic sense that enables all people to realize their potential for a sustainable future and a life of dignity” (UNESCO 2015)
ALPARC believes that ESD is a viable way to reconnect youth with the mountains and to foster new opportunities for a lively and sustainable future in the Alps.
ESD in the Alps relies on innovative pedagogical approaches in collaboration with protected areas, to help students develop the skills needed to understand our fast-paced and ever-changing world and to act accordingly.
In this perspective, ALPARC also promotes an educational model based on ESD principles that is adapted to the specificities of the mountain environment. This model promotes initiatives that encourage youth to explore their natural environment. The Alps, with their exceptional biodiversity and cultural heritage, represent the perfect laboratory to develop and enhance traditional activities such as agriculture in a sustainable way by combining them with new technology and innovation.
Young people need to develop new skills and competencies that bring about innovation and development in their territories. The following are some of the elements on which ESD in the Alps insists on in order to prepare students for the future:
• outdoor education
• learning by doing
• interdisciplinary methods
• cooperation between formal and non-formal educators
• the use of new technologies
• learner centered approach