L'ecovigilessa Vanessa (Vanessa, the ecopolicewoman)

RESPONSIBLE ENERGY CONSUMERS OF TOMORROW

SCHOOL CHILDREN ARE HELPING TO SHAPE THE ENERGY TRANSITION

Based in Italy’s Trentino-Alto Adige region, the Ecovigile (or Ecopolice) project educates the young adults of the future to be more responsible energy consumers, while also raising awareness among their parents. It starts from the idea that today’s children are tomorrow’s leaders. Developing a strong ecological consciousness does not only benefit the children, but can have an additional impact among their families, teachers and local communities. Since it was launched in 2013, Ecovigile has involved more than 5 000 primary children, 500 teachers and two public authorities.

Competitions and interactive lessons

Ecovigile uses competitions and interactive lessons to raise awareness of good environmental practices. The children are given the chance to become environmental police officers and win sustainable prizes.

Each participant is tasked with monitoring the behaviour of the adults around them and giving them a ticket when they do something good for the environment, such as saving energy or water, or sorting waste correctly. The adult signs the ticket and the child brings it back to school ready to take part in a meeting with a senior ‘environmental police officer’, who collects the tickets and plays environmental games with the children.

To become an environmental police officer themselves and receive an award, children must issue at least 20 tickets, while larger prizes are on offer for the school that hands out the most tickets overall.

Underlining the need to work together

As well as educating children to use energy responsibly, the competition emphasises the need to work together as a community in order to shape the energy transition. It also underlines that this transition is happening at a local level and is driven by the actions of people in every neighbourhood.

Interactive games are an effective way of teaching children sustainable behaviour from an early age and the concept is easily transferable to other countries.