Human beings are responsible for a number of crises which threaten the very future of life on earth. For centuries, we have treated the planet as if its natural resources were limitless and as if we could spoil them, use them and then discard them. We have spilt billions of litres of oil into the seas, cleared millions of acres of rainforest, mined deep underground, producing toxic slag heaps, stripped the natural minerals from the soil through industrial farming methods, and filled the atmosphere with dangerous levels of carbon dioxide, leading to potential climate breakdown. The list could be continued, but the last item alone could put an end to all life on earth. However, there is now a growing realisation that such profligate practices are not only harmful for other living creatures on the planet, they are also potentially fatal for humans.
It is the next generations who will increasingly see the consequences of climate change – and other problems – and the consequences will not be confined to the less developed regions. Already Europe has seen increasingly erratic and extreme weather events, and these will increase in future years. So young people need to understand and take the lead both in adopting more sustainable lifestyles and in creating solutions for the region as a whole.
This manual is a practical tool to begin that process. It is designed primarily for youth workers and educatorsto introduce the topic of sustainability to young people in a non-formal setting.
Published by the Council of Europe and the European Commission