Achieving sustainable development requires striking a balance between economic, social and environmental needs, by creating a resource-efficient economy and a fair and just society which stays within the ecological limits of the natural environment.

This is not an easy task and achieving it depends on local, national and international cooperation and the actions of citizens across all sectors of society. The Government of Ireland is committed to achieving this, both locally and globally, and is proud of its role in the development and adoption of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015. The 2030 Agenda is a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity and applies to both developed and developing countries.

Government policy is also moving towards achieving a ‘circular economy’, where resources are re-used or recycled as much as possible and the generation of waste is minimised. The government’s focus on the bioeconomy, which is the production of renewable biological resources, will also help Ireland to transition to a more sustainable, low-carbon society.

ETBI and ETBs are engaging in initiatives such as the Take 1 Programme and Energy Management for ETBs in a move towards more sustainable development and protect the environment.

The Take 1 Programme was developed from a desire to support senior leaders, teachers, and students in Education and Training Board (ETB) schools, to embed the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in teaching and learning. The ‘five Ps’ identified in the preamble to the SDGs — People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace, and Partnership — reflect the overall themes of the sustainable agenda and also align with the core values of ETB schools (Excellence in Education, Respect, Care, Equality and Community).

The Take 1 Programme provided two separate training opportunities in October 2019 and February 2020, attended by over 125 teachers, Principals and Deputy Principals. These training days provided a background to the SDGs and support resource materials for each subject in the new Junior Cycle curriculum. Following the first training, participants had an opportunity to showcase the learning in their respective schools by participating in Take 1 Week, which commenced on December 2nd. Teachers taught 1 Lesson about 1 SDG to 1 Class group over the course of 1 week. Lessons and events were shared on social media using ehe hashtag ETB_SDGS, describing the activities and including photos and images.

Key to the success of the Take 1 Programme is making the information about the 17 goals available and understandable. Resources for the Programme demonstrate the potential for all Junior Cycle subjects to engage with the Goals in a formal setting, and subsequently translate that engagement into action. Following the training one participant noted that Take 1 is “not an extra initiative, but celebrating what is already ongoing and embracing and encouraging student voice” while another commented “I feel like I have a much greater understanding of the goals and I have lots of ideas on how to embed them”. A small cohort of teachers have already commenced training to explore the further growth of the programme to encourage a breath of engagement both within and across subject areas. The Take 1 resources will also be developed to engage with students in both senior cycle subjects, including leaving certificate applied.

ETBI is collaborating with SEAI to provide a comprehensive and coordinated energy management iniative, delivered through training courses, site visits, and support for ETBI management, staff, principals, teachers and caretakers.