Reflecting on the LearningPlanet Festival 2023: Interview with Jaime Zaplatosch Ehrenberg


You organised the session called “Greening School Grounds and Outdoor Learning case study and agenda launch” on 26 January as a part of the LearningPlanet Festival. What was your overall experience like and what were some key learnings for you?

The LearningPlanet Festival provided a unique opportunity to lift up the voices and showcase the great work that leaders are engaging in to green school grounds and bring outdoor learning opportunities to all children. By sharing with thousands of participants the work from our global greening school grounds project, we are able to contribute to a space where new narratives around learning are emerging and gaining support from all corners of the world. We want to continue supporting organizations and individuals that are seeking ways to reimagine and rebuild what our learning environments look like.

Can you tell us more about Greening School Grounds and Outdoor Learning?

There is growing momentum worldwide to scale school ground greening as a sensible and thoughtful approach to increase climate resilience and improve health and education outcomes, especially for those most impacted by systems of inequity and environmental injustices. Mounting scientific evidence suggests that transforming school grounds into nature-rich environments is a powerful tool to achieve multiple benefits. Such school grounds improve physical and mental health, social and cognitive skills, creativity, and academic performance for students. They also contribute environmental benefits such as enhanced biodiversity, reduced heat in warming climates, and water conservation.

The Greening School Grounds & Outdoor Learning project engages global leaders and practitioners to build networks of like minded organizations and individuals to identify scalable strategies and deepen our understanding of how to support the worldwide movement of school ground greening. 

Since November 2021, the Children & Nature Network, in partnership with Salzburg Global Seminar, the International School Grounds Alliance, International Union for Conservation of Nature, #NatureForAll, and the National League of Cities Institute for Youth, Education and Families, identified and disseminated successful approaches from around the world to influence and help us, as a society, make significant progress in addressing complex, interrelated problems from challenges such as school infrastructure, students’ well-being, biodiversity loss and climate change. This eighteen month initial partnership created many resources, such as the Salzburg Statement, Global Action Agenda, and Case Studies from around the world

If children are to connect with nature every day for growing, playing and learning, school grounds must be part of the solution. Nature can exist throughout communities, but we know that daily experiences in nature are incredibly important for children’s mental and physical health and cognitive development. Therefore, we recommend that school grounds be considered a place where nature should be and children should have access to that nature.

What are some next steps for you with LearningPlanet?

Moving Forward, Our Objective

The objective of this program is to strengthen and expand the existing international greening of school grounds and outdoor learning movement. Work will focus on creating an enabling environment and building a network of catalytic partners. In order to reach our goals, the core project partners have expanded to include UNESCO, Learning through Landscapes, LearningPlanet Alliance and Alana Foundation.

We have created a Steering Committee to carry this work forward, which will be co-chaired by Children & Nature Network and Salzburg Global Seminar, and staffed by a Secretariat. The Steering Committee will include International School Grounds Alliance, International Union for Conservation of Nature Commission on Education and Communication, #NatureForAll, UNESCO, Learning through Landscapes, LearningPlanet Alliance and the Alana Foundation. The Steering Committee will foster a movement network, fundraise, and provide strategic communications support to grow and advocate for greening of school grounds and outdoor learning around the world.

In addition to the Steering Committee and Secretariat which will guide and support the work of this project, there are three interrelated priority areas for which lead organizations and partners are poised to collaborate: Movement Networks, Educator Capacity Building, and Catalyzing Programs in Geographic Gaps.

Jaime Zaplatosch Ehrenberg

In her role at C&NN, Jaime Zaplatosch is a member of the leadership team and leads advancement, partnership and fundraising strategies. Jaime works with partners around the world to develop and implement city-wide, equity-based nature connection initiatives and policies to support thriving communities.

Ms. Zaplatosch’s career has focused on engagement with residents and youth where they live to create the communities that they want. Jaime has extensive knowledge in the field of urban greening and community development projects with experience in strategy, community engagement, partnership building, program development, fundraising, and conservation.

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