ERG Donaustadt - together we have achieved a lot!

At the Evangelisches Gymnasium Donaustadt in Vienna, the Sustainable Development Goals were worked on by students during a project week. Ideas from the project have since been incorporated into everyday school life.

"We have implemented projects on different topics of the SDGs and learned from them that cooperation is particularly important. Together we have achieved a lot and are happy that our ideas for the school have been so well received," Simon, a pupil of class 6B at the Evangelisches Realgymnasium Donaustadt in Vienna, which has been awarded the Austrian Ecolabel, tells us.

The Evangelisches Realgymnasium Donaustadt in Vienna combines a secondary school, music school and after-school care centre in its building. In the school year 2021/22, 554 pupils will be taught by 98 teachers in 25 classes. In 2017, the school was awarded the Austrian Ecolabel. After successfully passing the follow-up audit in 2021, the Evangelisches Realgymnasium can continue to use the state seal of quality. Watch a video of the school here.

The abbreviation SDGs mentioned by Simon in his statement stands for Sustainable Development Goals. In German: Ziele für nachhaltige Entwicklung, which were adopted by the United Nations in 2015. Since the total of 17 SDGs must be implemented by 2030, the corresponding UN resolution is also called the "Transformation of our World, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development".

The consideration of the SDGs. Therefore, it is important that the SDGs are discussed and acted upon in school. The Ecolabel criteria for schools and teacher training colleges support the realisation of the SDGs. "It is precisely the consideration of the SDGs that represents a kind of holistic bracket of the five focal points of the Austrian Ecolabel for Schools - namely environmental and climate protection, health care, educational quality and participation of pupils as well as cooperation and networking," emphasises DI Arno Dermutz, who is responsible for education in the Ecolabel team of the Association for Consumer Information.

As already mentioned, one of these Ecolabel schools is the Evangelisches Realgymnasium Donaustadt. Together with Elisabeth Hörbinger, Elisabeth Magner coordinates the activities at the Realgymnasium in connection with the Austrian Ecolabel.

Ms Magner, does your school have a school canteen where pupils can have lunch?

"Yes, there is a school canteen at our school where the pupils and the educational team can have lunch. In the upper school clusters, there is even a mini kitchen per cluster. A vegetarian dish is offered daily in the school canteen. The snack buffet, which is open in the mornings, offers only meatless snacks every Wednesday, i.e. rolls with spread or cheese or cheese toast.

How are the meatless snacks and dishes received by the pupils?

"The turnover is the same as on the other days. So the offer is very well received." The pupil Dora (3D) says: "I really like the sandwich spread and cheese sandwiches. I like the variety at the buffet and that we are doing something good with it."

Raising awareness for healthy eating and climate protection. Meatless meals do good for health, but also counteract climate change. Above all, the pupils are made aware of both important issues. Their goal was to reduce CO2 consumption through vegetarian food. However, it also helps to realise SDGs: "Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages" (SDG 3) and "Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts" (SDG 13).

Overall, your school is very active on the SDGs. What have the pupils learned, what has the school as a whole learned from this? What was the most important project on the SDGs, Ms Magner?

"The biggest SDG project at the school took place in 2018. In cooperation with the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, the 6th graders of the ecology and culture branch were able to take care of self-selected SDG projects, which were to be implemented at the school, for the duration of one school week. This resulted, among other things, in 'Meatless Wednesday'. The projects were presented at an event. This project week was organised and held as a 'Green Event' by the pupils. The school and especially the students learned from this project that each theme from the SDGs is connected to the others and thus also the individual school activities that emerged from it. As with many other projects, cooperation and cohesion among each other is particularly important here."

All pictures copyright by ERG Donaustadt.

Towards the future. We congratulate Dora and Simon, all the pupils and the pedagogical team of the Evangelisches Realgymnasium Donaustadt on the Ecolabel projects! With these projects, the students learn for their personal lives, but also acquire knowledge and attitudes that are important for the environment and society - in line with the SDGs! Together, a lot has already been achieved at this school! And the future also looks very good there!