Friends of the Earth International (FoEI)

Popular Education Tools
A programme offering capacity building and training for environmental activists, community leaders, and grassroots organisations while leveraging the Friends of the Earth International network to amplify their voices for global advocacy and change


Addressing intersecting forces of power and privilege is urgently needed to dismantle structural oppression on different scales. What practical and conceptual strategies might contribute through building solidarity and communities of resistance? One strategy is found in the work of several formal and informal organisations currently developing scenarios for post-growth futures. To widen the reach of such a strategy and engage other global regions, it is essential to develop a network of associations and educational tools.


The School of Sustainability is an initiative established by Friends of the Earth International (FoEI), a global network of environmental organisations with members in 73 countries worldwide. Despite facing criticism for a lack of transparency, particularly with regard to finances and internal operations, the organisation has contributed substantially to numerous forms of political education, offering a wide variety of programmes for learning and knowledge exchange. Following an initial iteration in 2007, the School of Sustainability has drawn from the Brazilian pedagogue Paulo Freire’s methods for equitable learning, organising annual schools in the four regions of the Friends of the Earth network (Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia Pacific, Africa, and Europe). Freire’s model of popular education emphasises the development of a critical consciousness through a mutual teaching and learning process that rejects hierarchies between facilitators and learners. Popular education draws on participants’ life experiences, creating links between personal, historical, and global processes. Putting these concepts to practice, the School of Sustainability programme covers a wide range of topics with its curriculum, including environmental science, sustainable development, environmental advocacy and campaign planning, community organising, and environmental justice. These activities are designed to empower and educate people to pass their knowledge on to others and take political action to address social and environmental problems. The School of Sustainability offers tools and resources, including educational games and lesson plans, for those who seek to organise projects, campaigns, and training on various scales to address power and privilege, systemic change, solidarity, climate, gender, and social justice.1Friends of the Earth International, ‘Tools for System Change – Resources, Case Studies and Tools Related to Trainings and Events in the Friends of the Earth Europe Network, Developed as Part of the “School of Sustainability”’ <> [accessed 29 March 2023]. These resources draw on a community of peers and experts who offer guidance by sharing experiences and best practices. The programme also provides technical assistance to participants seeking to implement projects, develop campaign strategies, and access funding. Considering the interconnected nature of environmental problems, which often cross borders and therefore require a coordinated response across regions and networks, the global scope and curriculum of the School of Sustainability is particularly important.


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    Friends of the Earth International, ‘Tools for System Change – Resources, Case Studies and Tools Related to Trainings and Events in the Friends of the Earth Europe Network, Developed as Part of the “School of Sustainability”’ <> [accessed 29 March 2023].

External links

La Via Campesina—an international movement that advocates for the rights of small-scale farmers, farmworkers, Indigenous people, and other rural communities and promotes agroecology and food sovereignty 

Earth Guardians—youth-led environmental organisation that empowers young people to become leaders and activists in their communities 

BUND (German Federation for the Environment and Nature Conservation)— is part of the FoEI network and managed to receive an official accreditation by the German state, which ensures that they are always consulted in official discussions and plans that have an impact on the natural environment 

Eco School Global—an international environmental education programme that empowers students to take action around environmental issues in their schools and communities, by providing a framework and resources