The Netherlands


With its first national environmental education policy enacted in 1988, the Netherlands has a long and rich history of using environmental education as a key strategy in addressing environmental issues. By positioning environmental education as a platform for forging relationships and building capacity, the Netherlands’ government facilitates a “learning society” to assist individuals and institutions in addressing key issues through education and sustainable practices. National policy also supports new forms of monitoring and evaluation for the country’s prominent environmental education programs, such as Groen Gelinkt, a web hub that offers teaching materials and information about environmental education and sustainability. The Netherlands also facilitates national education networks for sustainability in higher education and vocational practices to lobby at all levels and achieve key objectives for engaging students in sustainable development curricula, research, and practice.

National Legislation

The Netherlands has a long history of environmental education and Education for Sustainability policies, which began with the European Year for Nature Conservation in 1970. The first policy advice specific to environmental education in the Netherlands was released in 1975, the first national EE act was passed in 1988, and the first multi-year environmental education action program was initiated in 1992. The sustainability topic was introduced into EE in the Netherlands in 1999. During the UN Decade for Sustainable Development – which began in 2005 – the Netherlands released two separate policies: one for environmental education (EE) and one for Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). The EE and ESD policies converged in 2013 under the country’s Duurzaam Door program.

EE in K-12 Education

K-12 educators in the Netherlands can access environmental education resources through Groen Gelinkt, an online search system that allows educators from primary schools, secondary schools, and afterschool programs to locate EE resources by topic and audience. Sustainable PABOs offers support for schools in initiating sustainability projects. Sustainable Chain Gang (VO) provides a network for secondary schools to support one another in sustainability education efforts.

Professional Development

Sustainable PABOs supports environmental educators by offering professional learning opportunities through conferences, lectures and workshops, newsletters with tips and activities, and online resources. It also supports teacher training colleges and primary schools in learning to use the PRISE (Primary Sustainable Education), an assessment and evaluation instrument for Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in primary education. 

National Associations

Several sustainable education networks operate in The Netherlands. Sustainable PABOs is a nationwide sustainability network of teachers, administrators and students of teacher training colleges in the Netherlands. Sustainable Chain Gang (VO), is a national network of institutions in the field of secondary education in the Netherlands. Sustainable MBO is a nationwide sustainability network of teachers, administrators and students of secondary vocational education in the Netherlands. Higher Education - Students for Tomorrow is both a network of local student organizations and a national voluntary organization.

EE in the National Government

Duurzaam Door serves as "the umbrella for educational activities in the field of nature, environment and sustainability”.

National EE Campaigns and Funding

Through Duurzaam Door, €2.7 million is budgeted for national programming. For provincial programs, €1.5 million in government grants are available on an annual basis. Provincial/local governments, as well as third parties, each contribute an additional €1.5 million. Total budget on an annual basis for the provinces includes a maximum of €4.5 million.


Higher Education - Students for Tomorrow
Sustainable MBO (Duurzaam MBO)
University of Wageningen