In 2005, the Queensland Environmentally Sustainable Schools Initiative (QESSI) was established with the aim of fulfilling one of the challenges issued by the General Assembly of the United Nations in the pursuit of a sustainable global society by ‘encouraging Governments to consider the inclusion of measures to implement a Decade of Education for Sustainable Development 2005–2014 in their respective education systems and strategies’ (UNESCO, 2005).
As a result, from 2005 to 2015, the QESSI Alliance was formed and consisted of schools, community groups, industry and government agencies. Their mission focused on supporting Queensland schools to embed the principles of environmental education for sustainability across the school community. They established a network of environmentally sustainable schools that demonstrated curricular connections and environmental action based on ecologically sustainable development principles.
A key feature of becoming an environmentally sustainable school was to create a School Environment Management Plan (SEMP). A SEMP is a document that set out the school community’s intentions in regard to environmental education and management and included key features such as:
- teaching and learning resources on environmental education for sustainability
- resource management for water conservation, waste minimisation and energy efficiency
- planning for biodiversity and school grounds improvement
- whole-school governance for sustainability
- partnerships between the school and its community.
From 2012 to 2022, a total of 1,036 Queensland schools and environmental centres registered to become an Environmentally Sustainable School and a total of 1,397 SEMPs were created.
A list of the QESSI Alliance (2005–2015) members:
- Department of Education and Training
- Commonwealth Department of the Environment and Energy
- Environmental Protection Agency
- Department of Natural Resources and Water
- Education Queensland’s Outdoor & Environmental Education Centre’s Principals Alliance
- Queensland Transport
- Department of Mines and Energy
- Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
- Keep Australia Beautiful, Queensland
- Queensland Catholic Education Commission
- Independent Schools Queensland
- Queensland Youth Environment Council
- Tertiary Sector
- Queensland Resources Council
- Ergon Energy
- Origin Energy
- Queensland University of Technology
- Griffith University
- University of Queensland
- Earth Charter Australia