Sustainable schools


Welcome to the sustainable schools section. The aim of this section is to provide all Queensland schools with a central hub for sustainability resources.

Sustainability addresses the ongoing capacity of Earth to maintain all life. Sustainable patterns of living seek to meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the needs of future generations (Australian Curriculum Version 9.0).

As Australia is a United Nations member state, we are guided by the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

These goals include eradicating poverty and hunger, improving health and education, and tackling climate change.

Visit the United Nations website to learn about each goal and consider which goals you aim to prioritise in your school and community projects.

The Queensland Government has committed to climate action with clear steps increase the use renewable energy and reduce emissions.  The Queensland Climate Action (QCA) website provide actions for individuals, communities, businesses and industry, along with case studies from across the state. To keep up to date with climate action news and information on a range of programs and initiatives view the quarterly newsletters.

Creating a sustainable school

From 2019, schools across Queensland have had the opportunity to become climate ready through sustainable practices which reduce greenhouse gas emissions and costs. Getting your school climate ready also increases your community's resilience to climate change.

An important component of creating a sustainable school is to develop a whole school plan. A School Environmental Management Plan (SEMP) is a document that sets out the school community's intentions in regards to sustainability education and environmental management. It represents an agreement to work together across the whole school.

A SEMP will help to integrate sustainability considerations into whole-school planning. It will help to implement changes to school culture and everyday practices and to apply the principles of ecologically sustainable development across all school activities.

The step-by-step process of creating a SEMP consists of:

  • reviewing your school's current priorities
  • determining which sustainability issues your SEMP will address
  • writing up action plans to address these issues across five focus areas
  • developing a monitoring and evaluation strategy to track progress.

This school environmental management plan template can be downloaded and adjusted to meet the needs of your school.

Throughout Queensland, students and teachers immerse themselves in the principles of sustainability through hands-on experiences in over 20 Outdoor and Environmental Education Centres (O&EECs). For more information, visit the O&EECs page.

Competitions, scholarships, awards and grant opportunities

A number of government, corporate and not-for-profit organisations run competitions that offer grants, scholarships and awards to support sustainability projects in schools or involving school communities. Learn more below.

  • Premier's Coding Challenge
    The 2024 Premier’s Coding Challenge will be open from March to September. It offers students in Year 3–10 the opportunity to showcase their coding skills by developing an app, game or website to make their school a better place to teach, learn and play.
  • Earthwatch Student Challenge
    Each year, Earthwatch offers students in Years 10–12 full scholarships to join in week-long research expeditions during the school holidays. Students work in the field alongside Earthwatch scientists, doing hands on research. Applications close 22 March 2024.
  • 2024 Woolworths Junior Landcare Grants
    Woolworths Junior Landcare Grants are back again for a sixth year, offering primary schools and early learning centres a $1,000 grant to engage students in hands-on projects to support the environment. Applications close 5pm (AEDT) Friday 15 March 2024.
  • The Earth Prize
    This global environmental sustainability competition for students, aged between 13 and 19, will open in September 2024.
  • Brisbane Carbon Challenge
    This challenge tasks residents to learn about carbon emissions created as a result of their household’s energy use, transport and waste, and create a personalised low-carbon action plan.
  • WasteSMART Brisbane Awards
    These awards recognise individuals and groups that help make Brisbane a clean, green and sustainable city.

If you are aware of sustainability competitions, scholarships, awards or grant opportunities please let us know by contacting

Last updated 06 March 2024