Citizen Children Raising Their Voices and Striving to Save the Planet … and Themselves

Clementina Rios, Alison Neilson, Isabel Menezes

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The UN’s 2030 Agenda defends Environmental Education for Sustainable Development as a way to foster environmental citizenship from childhood and highlights the role of children and young people as “critical agents of change in creating a better world” by involving them in participation in local, national, and global sustainability issues. This study explores children’s agency in environmental issues and aims to address the following research questions: What environmental problems do children see as emerging and how do they solve them? How do children perceive opportunities to participate in environmental issues? How do schools operationalize education for environmental citizenship? Focus groups were held with children aged five to eight, using elicitation images related to various environmental issues. Children reported knowledge about human impacts on the environment and expressed concerns and suggestions about environmental issues. They are also involved in a variety of pro-environmental actions in school contexts, from separating garbage, creating vegetable gardens, participating in climate strikes, and being involved in local environmental projects. Children’s agency and awareness about environmental issues appear to be closely related to the relationship they create with nature and the actual opportunities for exercising their environmental citizenship.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Perspectives on Educating for Democracy in Early Childhood
Subtitle of host publicationRecognizing Young Children as Citizens
EditorsStacy Lee DeZutter
PublisherRoutledge | Taylor & Francis Group
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9781000865769
ISBN (Print)9781032135007
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2023


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