Gaia Youth – World We Want Design Education

“The world’s young people can lead a global drive to break the patterns of the past and set the world on course to a more sustainable future. Young people are directly affected by the tragic contradictions that prevail today: between abject poverty and ostentatious wealth, gnawing hunger and shameful food waste, rich natural resources and polluting industries. Youth can deliver solutions on these issues.”

Ban Ki-moon Former UN Secretary-General

Empower Our Future

The 1.8 billion young people around the world represent a dynamic, informed, and globally connected engine for change. In the critical dialogue about sustainability, integrating their needs, rights to choose and their voices, is key for a future where we live within the ecological limits of the planet and leave no one behind.

Gaia Youth is about empowering young people to actively engage with the complexity of sustainability issues, to question business-as-usual, to form their own opinions and to determine their own lifestyle responses and their own future career choices.


The course is based on Gaia Education’s Whole-Systems Design Framework for the collaborative generation of sustainable solutions and their local implementation. This framework integrates the four dimensions of sustainability – social, ecological, economic and worldview- through a 20-module programme, that offers a universal pattern language for Education for Sustainable Development and the on-the-ground implementation of sustainable solutions.

Gaia Youth is designed to be fully adaptable to local socio-economic contexts and biocultural diversity. It can also be adapted to different age groups. Our aim is to support youth educators everywhere with a flexible curriculum that can support effective sustainability education for young people everywhere.


Setting up a Gaia Youth Programme

When designing your course, we invite you to work around the four dimensions and the 20 modules of Gaia Education Whole System Design Curriculum. Allow them to inform a process of co-creation with facilitators, parents and the youth themselves. Their enthusiasm and engagement will help you to co-create a course that is useful and relevant to their lives. Making space for their inquisitive spirit to be shared and acknowledged will create a community of learners that will empower teachers and students alike. This approach acknowledges and models that sustainability is not an end-point or goal to arrive at, but a community-based process of constant learning, adaptation and transformative innovation in the face of complex challenges and opportunities.

Setting up a Gaia Youth programme in your home country is also in line with the principles and action guidelines of the Earth Charter: “Provide all, especially children and youth, with educational opportunities that empower them to contribute actively to sustainable development.”


The Gaia Youth programme enables educators and young people to explore how the UN Sustainable Development Goals are deeply relevant to their own lives and those of all humanity, and gives them an action-learning based pathway to their local implementation in ways that are most relevant and useful to their community. Of all generations alive today, the young people who will come of age during the 12 years leading up to 2030, have the most to gain from and the most at stake in, humanity’s collaborative effort to achieve the Global Goals.

The Gaia Youth programme is a Gaia Education contribution to the global efforts in Education for Sustainable Development. The underlying integrative whole systems design approach assures that both teachers and learners are invited into a systemic way of thinking and addressing causes rather than symptoms in the global efforts to end poverty, reduce inequality and collaborate in the creation of diverse peaceful societies on a healthy planet.

“Gaia Youth made me want to change the world.”

Sabrina Kamenetz 16 years old, Gaia Youth Rio de Janeiro 2015

“To be part of Gaia Youth is beyond words. Attempting to express a deep personal transformation that evoked an emotional spectrum requires elaboration.”

Manuela Allegro 16 years old, Gaia Youth Rio de Janeiro 2015

Certification Requirements

  • A minimum of 40 contact hours. It is recommended to divide the allocated time into several intensive periods (some intensive weeks or months throughout the year) leaving time to reflect and internalise the curriculum
  • A strong intention to include the content of the 20 modules and address and integrate the four dimensions of sustainability described by the curriculum’s whole systems design framework
  • A minimum of six hours devoted to applying design methods and processes into real-life scenarios through group projects related to school or youth group and its larger community. We recommend that the results of the programme - designs, practical projects - be presented publically as a graduation and a celebration to the wider community
  • A skilled team of educators with sufficient knowledge and experience in Education for Sustainability and at least one individual who has completed a Gaia Education certified programme (either EDE or GEDS and ideally a ToT)
  • An appropriate environment, ideally at least partly a living and learning site (ecological inclined schools, communities, ecovillages) that is practically demonstrating integrated application of design for sustainable settlements
  • A commitment to complete and submit course evaluation and report
  • A commitment to follow Gaia Education branding guidelines

Certified Gaia Youth Programmes are invited to become official contributors to UNESCO Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development. Contact to learn more.

“Gaia Youth was a high-impactful learning experience. In a positive way I’ve left behind attitudes and thoughts that weren’t useful anymore, I’ve grown up and transformed different aspects of my life, from my daily food to my relationships and interaction with myself. During Gaia I was encouraged not only to connect with my feelings but also to share them with the group, in a secure space, what helped me to better know myself and get the confidence to manifest my true self in daily life. An extraordinary experience!”

Lara Ghiorzi 17 years old, Gaia Youth Rio de Janeiro 2015