Global Learning Programme Wales

Sustainable development

Sustainable development ‘meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to Family using solar panels in Mongolia © UN Photo on flickrmeet their own needs’. What impact do our activities have on the environment, other people and on the economy – both locally and globally? This topic requires pupils to think about how resources are used around the world as well as how development projects are designed. Will they benefit people in the long-term as well as the short-term?

There are lots of sustainability initiatives in UK schools. Encourage pupils to think about why they are there, how successful they are and how they compare with initiatives in other parts of the world.

Recommended reading

The following links and articles provide useful background information to help you teach about sustainable development:

Guardian: Environmental sustainability A collection of articles on the Guardian global development website

Global Dimension: Forests Feature article for International Year of the Forest 2011

Global Dimension: Coral reefs Feature article exploring the ‘rainforests of the sea’

Global Dimension: Sustainable Energy Feature article exploring how more people worldwide can get access to sustainable energy

International Institute for Sustainable Development: Sustainable Development Timeline (PDF) Key events and milestones on the journey towards sustainable development, since the publication of Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring in 1962

Teaching resources

Useful teaching resources about sustainable development:

Centre for Alternative Technology: Footprint Futures a bilingual Eco-footprint teaching resource for Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3

Christian Aid: The Poverty Challenge Key Stage 3 simulation game around the importance of finding lasting solutions to help poor countries develop and work their way out of poverty

Makutano Junction Secondary resource based on a Kenyan soap opera; includes an activity around sustainable tourism

Practical Action Education website Lesson plans and activities for Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3

TVE: Reframing Rio Schools Resources Key Stage 3 lesson plans around films exploring how five LEDC children’s lives have changed between the first Earth Summit in Rio (1992) and the summit 20 years later

For further teaching resources, browse through the following searches:

Key Stage 2      

Key Stage 3

We welcome your suggestions for useful articles and teaching resources on the topic of Sustainable development. Please email them to