In 2003, the Flemish government implemented an environmental education unit designed to prepare, coordinate, and implement environmental education policy, facilitate networking between practitioners and policymakers, develop and test innovative environmental education methodologies and programs, and serve as a national center of expertise in environmental education. Coupled with this, Belgium's national policy uniquely positions policy advisors and environmental educators to help bridge gaps between theory and practice, policy and practitioners, and EE experts and program developers. As one of Belgium’s most prominent environmental education programs, Ecocampus is a thematic learning network that seeks to incorporate the values and principles of sustainable development in all aspects of higher education. Belgium is continuing to refine and improve their flagship programs and national policy implementation strategies.
Policy & Practice
In 2003, the Flemish government established the Environmental Education Programme. This unit of government was charged with preparing, coordinating and implementing EE policy. They facilitated networking for EE practitioners and policymakers and developed and tested innovative EE methodologies and programs. This unit set quality assurance standards within EE practices and served as a center of expertise in EE. In order to accomplish this work, a substantial staff of approximately 20 people were assigned to the unit in Brussels to build capacity, implement training and coordinate policy. Additionally, environmental educators were placed in three EE centers to develop and test methodologies and programs. This allowed the government to bridge the gaps between theory and practice, and policy development and EE practitioners.
EE in K-12 Education
Through Milieuzorg Op School (MOS), elementary and secondary schools can work toward becoming more environmentally friendly and sustainable. Through MOS, school teams focus on actions that begin with students; teamwork among the whole school and parents; and cooperation with the school district, local authorities, NGOs, and civil society organizations. Schools may also participate in networking events to share their experiences. MOS also helps interested schools become involved with the international Eco-Schools program through the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE).
The Flemish Department of Environment, Nature, and Energy offers training opportunities for early childhood, primary, and secondary educators, as well as for other audiences such as families and nature guides.
EE in the National Government
The Flemish government’s EE Unit is located within the Flemish Department of Environment, Nature, and Energy.
Van Poeck, K., Vandenabeele, J., Bruyninckx, H. (2014). Taking stock of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development: The policymaking process in Flanders. Environmental Education Research, 20 (5), 695-717.
Van Poeck, K., Loones, J., Claus, I. (2014). Education for sustainable development in Flanders: the UN Decade and beyond. In: Jucker R., Mathar R. (Eds.), Schooling for Sustainable Development in Europe. Dordrecht, Heidelberg, New York, London: Springer, 279-291.