Global Education

Teacher resources to encourage a global
perspective across the curriculum


  • A burnt out tree stands where an entire forest used to, in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia.
  • Houses with woven bamboo walls and thatched roofs, built along the coast in Solomon Islands, are vulnerable to storm surges.
  • Children swim in the Mantangai River in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia.
  • Reducing pollution and managing urban waste helps improve health in Haiphong, Vietnam.
  • In 2005 a 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck northern Pakistan killing nearly 75,000 people and destroying homes, schools and hospitals.
  • Warning signals helped people to flee to higher ground when an 8.3 magnitude earthquake caused a tsunami along the Samoan coast.
  • Villages and livelihoods were destroyed as rice paddies were flooded for months after cyclone Nargis struck Myanmar in 2008.
  • In 2010 the volcano Mount Merapi in Indonesia erupted, turning the River Kali Gendol into mud with lava and ash.
  • A view of the west coast of the island nation of Niue.
  • A coastal village among the coconut palms in Kiribati.
  • Coastal erosion Tarawa, Kiribati.
  • Women and children collect shellfish along the causeway, South Tarawa, Kiribati.
  • Grazing too many goats loosens the ground cover, leading to desertification of the fragile environment in northern China.
  • Crossbred sheep are kept inside in winter, in northern China.
  • Farmers in northern China learn to use water and fertiliser efficiently by checking that these are not present below the roots of the crop.
  • The water hyacinth was introduced into Papua New Guinea because of its attractive flower.
  • Tambali Lagoon was one of the clogged waterways that prevented people travelling to school, hospital and markets.
  • After trialling to ensure it would not cause environmental problems, the chevroned water hyacinth weevil was introduced to attack the water hyacinth.
  • Tambali Lagoon was totally clear three years after the introduction of the chevroned water hyacinth weevil.
  • A weather-monitoring station in Kiribati.
  • A farmer uses two bullocks to ploughing a grassy field.
  • Local villagers Binh and Thien are employed to care for more than 500 turtles at the Turtle Conservation Center.
  • A local keeper checking a big-headed turtle, platysternon megacephalum
  • Mosmoil villagers stand outside a sanitary latrine.
  • Unpaved roads in Cement Huts, Bangalore, India, frequently flooded houses before they were sealed.
  • The sewer connection in Cement Huts, Bangalore, India, was broken, so before it was repaired, waste spread over the road.
  • Before new taps were installed, dirty water filled the pit of this public tap in Cement Huts, Bangalore, India, contaminating the water supply.
  • Before the project in Cement Huts, Bangalore, India, the entire population of 626 people relied on four latrines and two bathing cubicles.
  • WATSAN Committee members played a key role in sharing information about the project with other householders.
  • Drains were cleared and roads sealed, creating a safer and cleaner environment in Cement Huts, Bangalore, India.
  • New taps connected to the water pipe network provided clean water for households to share in Cement Huts, Bangalore, India.
  • The new community toilet block in Cement Huts, Bangalore, India, has separate sections for men and women.
  • The tenkile is very difficult to see in the dense rainforests of Papua New Guinea’s Torricelli Mountains.
  • Rabbit farming has replaced the hunting of tenkile and provides a good source of food.
  • Supported by Australian volunteers, local trainers assist the village communities to manage the conservation area.
  • Clearing drains and open waterways reduces the number of mosquito-breeding areas in Solomon Islands.
  • In Solomon Islands, with its rich soil, high rainfall and a warm climate, families can grow sufficient food for their needs and sell the leftovers.
  • Logging helps earn valuable income in Solomon Islands, but it is important to ensure that forests are harvested sustainably.
  • Men measure the girth of a tree in Papua New Guinea.
  • In Papua New Guinea, sawn timber is transported from the forest by sea.
  • A man’s home is covered in ash from an eruption of Mount Merapi, in central Java, Indonesia.
  • This well is the main source of fresh water for a rural village in Myanmar.
  • Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, is a large bustling city of seven million people, which mixes old and new architecture.
  • Shanghai, located at the mouth of the Yangtze River, is a large modern port city and a major tourist destination.
  • An aerial photograph of Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu, also shows Iririki Island in Port Vila Bay.
  • Diagram of a sea-level monitoring station
  • Aerial view of Kuwajelein Atoll, Marshall Islands
  • The Indochinese box turtle, Cuora galbinifrons, once common across much of South-East Asia, is now listed as critically endangered.
  • A woman bakes flat bread on a fuel efficient stove in Tilonia in north-east India.
  • Australia’shot dry land is dominated by red soil and flat, dry land stretching into the distance .
  • Drought and deforestation contribute to sandstorms blowing into towns from the Gobi Desert in China, causing respiratory problems.
  • Onotoa atoll, Kiribati, is 19.3 kilometres long and faces water and food shortages, and coastal erosion from king tides and mining.
  • Niu Loane lost his main food source and income when a king tide destroyed his pulaka plantation in Funafuti, Tuvalu.
  • A man lowers his fishing net into the river to catch fish for his family's evening meal in Vietnam.
  • Two large circular solar cookers catch the sun outside a large building in snowy mountainous area.
  • A community leader educates people about the ways to prevent and control the spread of cholera in Daru, Papua New Guinea.
  • Lack of safe drinking water and unsanitary conditions in Daru, Papua New Guinea, increase the risk of cholera and other water-borne diseases.

Quick facts

  • World Environment Day, 5 June, focuses on the sustainable use of the environment.
  • The illegal exploitation and poor management of natural resources can pose a stability risk in in post conflict situations within countries or in neighbouring fragile states.
  • Many species are at risk of extinction, despite an increase in protected areas.
  • Sea level has risen 222 millimetres since 1875; 30% of this increase has occurred since 1993.
  • An estimated six million hectares of productive land is lost every year because of desertification, land degradation and declining agricultural productivity.
  • Deforestation and forest degradation account for almost 20% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) have increased by more than 46 per cent since 1990.
  • Global investment in renewable energy, including solar, wind and biofuels, was US$211 billion in 2010, more than five times the amount invested in 2004.
  • Much of the 280 million tonnes of plastic produced per year ends up as waste swirling around in one of the massive oceanic gyres or swallowed by marine organisms.


United Nations Environment Programme


Contributors' notes

Contribution guidelines

(appears on page)



The natural environment includes the air, land and water that provide the basis of all life on Earth. Air, land and water are affected by sunlight, climate, altitude, latitude, natural disasters and the interactions among all living organisms, including people. Environments vary from the frozen poles to tropical jungles, from the sandy deserts to coral reefs, from the fertile plains to snowy mountains. Each is populated by a diversity of microorganisms, plants and animals which have taken millions of years to adapt to their particular environment.

Sustainable development

As the world’s population grows, more and more pressure is placed on the environment to produce enough food and energy without people consuming the resources faster than they can be replaced. This is known as sustainable development. Current levels of consumption are likely to lead to an environmental crisis that affects everyone, although it is the richer countries that have the greatest levels of consumption. The poor, who consume only about 20% of the resources, have the least ability to adjust.

Climate change

Climate change refers to significant and long-term changes in the climate, such as temperature, rainfall, sea levels and wind. Whether caused directly or indirectly by human activity, climate change is a major challenge. Changes affect food production and the frequency and severity of weather events such as drought, flooding and bushfires.

Land degradation, desertification and urbanisation

Soil degradation and desertification are caused by over-cultivation, over-grazing, deforestation, poor water management, overuse of fertilisers and pesticides and poor waste disposal.

As cities grow, what was productive farming land is covered by houses and roads and the remaining land has to produce more food to support even more people. Well-planned, densely populated settlements can reduce the need for land conversion, provide opportunities for energy savings and make recycling more cost-effective.


Contamination of air, water and soil can have serious effects on people’s health and ability to grow food. Identifying and managing the use of harmful chemicals and other substances to prevent pollution is vital, as is removing hazardous materials from use and finding alternatives.

Marine and coastal degradation

Disposal of wastes, particularly sewage, directly into oceans has a major effect on marine and coastal areas. Growth in population, urbanisation, industrialisation and tourism is increasing the extent of coastal degradation. Protecting marine and coastal areas from environmental damage is important not only for ecosystems but also for people living in coastal communities whose livelihoods depend on a healthy environment. 


Australia's response

Reducing the negative impacts of environmental degradation is  important to economic development and safeguarding aid investments. Without intervention, the impacts of environmental degradation and climate change will erode development gains. People in developing countries who depend on the natural environment for their income, food and water are particularly vulnerable to these impacts and often lack the capacity to respond effectively to climate related disasters such as floods and droughts.

The Australian Government’s overseas aid program promotes sustainable livelihoods and increasing resilience to environmental stresses, and our climate change and environment activities directly support MDG7—Ensuring environmental sustainability. Australia also directly targets environmental sustainability initiatives at the global and regional scale.


Australian Aid, Environment

International responses

The international community is taking steps to reduce carbon emissions and develop and implement strategies to mitigate and adapt to changes in climate and protect the environment. Adoption of alternative energy sources such as solar, wind, hydroelectricity, biogas, thermal and tidal power is increasing, reducing reliance on fossil fuels and cutting carbon emissions.

The Commission on Sustainable Development

Basel Convention

Convention on Biological Diversity

Global Environment Facility (GEF)

Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD)

Teaching activity

People and the environment

Women in  Rajasthan, India, in saris spend time searching for, collecting and carrying firewood before they can cook food.
Students investigate how people use and affect the environment. They develop key understandings about our dependence on the environment, including the use of natural resources for energy, and why it is important to protect and preserve the variety of life on Earth.
Read more
Year level: F-2
Issue: Environment

Sustainable energy sources

Two large circular solar cookers catch the sun outside a large building in snowy mountainous area.
Students investigate the energy sources that people use to meet their daily needs, with a particular focus on ways of generating electricity. They develop key understandings about the environmental impact of different energy sources (non-renewable or renewable) and opportunities for decisions and actions that can make a difference for a sustainable future.
Read more
Year level: 5-6
Issue: Environment

Waste matters

Plastic debris pollutes waterways.
Students investigate waste creation and management based on their own experiences and case studies. They develop key understandings about pressures on the environment, ecosystems and people’s health caused by waste, and explore ways of improving waste management to help build a sustainable future.
Read more
Year level: 3-4
Issue: Environment
Country: Australia

Weather and where we live

In 2008 cyclone Nargis struck Myanmar lashing the country with strong winds and rain.
Students explore types of weather and how they affect daily life. They will investigate how living things are influenced by weather, including the activities they can do, housing styles and location, clothes and access to food. They will learn about seasons and weather in different parts of the world.
Read more
Year level: F-2
Issue: Environment
Country: Australia

Case studies

Biological control in Papua New Guinea

The water hyacinth was introduced into Papua New Guinea because of its attractive flower.
After water hyacinths clogged waterways along the Sepik River in Papua New Guinea, scientists and community members used a combination of weed removal and weevils to clear the weed.
Read more

Conserving tree kangaroos

The tenkile is very difficult to see in the dense rainforests of Papua New Guinea’s Torricelli Mountains.
Holistic development is improving health and protecting the environment and endangered tree kangaroos in Papua New Guinea.
Read more

Drought in Tuvalu

Funafuti Atoll, Tuvalu, 11 kilometres long and 150 metres at its widest, is at risk of being swamped by the sea.
Climate change is increasing the variability in rainfall, so improving storage and changing behaviours are important to help ensure water security and reduce the impact of drought.
Read more

People conserving Asian turtles

A local keeper checking a big-headed turtle, platysternon megacephalum
New programs are addressing uncontrolled use of turtles for food, traditional medicine, pets and jewellery: all practices that threaten turtle extinction.
Read more

Reversing desertification in China

Grazing too many goats loosens the ground cover, leading to desertification of the fragile environment in northern China.
Changing land and water use practices in Inner Mongolia, China are helping reverse desertification and reduce poverty.
Read more

South Pacific sea level monitoring

A weather-monitoring station in Kiribati.
Sea level monitoring stations in the south-west Pacific are collecting data to assist nations to prepare for climate change.
Read more

Sustainable living from logged forests in Papua New Guinea

Men measure the girth of a tree in Papua New Guinea.
Villagers living near logged forests are learning to manage the remaining trees sustainably and earn an ongoing income.
Read more

Sweet potato diversity in Papua New Guinea

Everyone helps to record tuber weights at harvest in Papua New Guinea.
In Papua New Guinea farmers are involved in the selection of new sweet potato varieties to improve their food security.
Read more

Women's microfinance lighting up the community

In rural Solomon Islands groups of women share knowledge, learn financial skills and develop leadership skills. They are investing in solar panels to improve life in the community.
Read more


Basel Convention

Regulates the movements of hazardous wastes and ensures they are disposed of in an environmentally sound way.

Convention on Biological Diversity

The Convention on Biological Diversity is concerned with genetic resources, species and ecosystems. The objectives are to conserve biological diversity through sustainable use and to ensure that all people share in the benefits of genetic resources.

Developing Global Citizens CD-ROM

Developing global citizens CD image
The Developing Global Citizens (2010) CD-ROM integrates global perspectives into five primary and five secondary units of work using multimedia.
Read more
Year level: 3-4,5-6,7-8,9-10
Issue: Australia's aid, Environment, Food security, Globalisation, Human rights, Poverty reduction

Dying to Go to the Toilet

Dying to go to the toilet icon
The Dying to Go to the Toilet: The Sanitation Challenge (2008) booklet develops knowledge and understanding about the issues of sanitation and its importance in delivering outcomes for Millennium Development Goal 7.
Read more
Year level: 7-8,9-10
Issue: Australia's aid, Environment, Poverty reduction, Water and sanitation
Country: Bangladesh, Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea

Forests: A Global Perspective

Forests a global perspective cover
The Forests: A Global Perspective (2011) booklet uses information, maps, graphs, photographs, and data to develop understanding about forests, the uses made of them and the actions taken to manage them sustainably.
Read more
Year level: 7-8,9-10
Issue: Australia's aid, Environment, Food security, Globalisation, Human rights, Poverty reduction
Country: Australia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, Vietnam

Global dimension

The Global Dimension website, funded by the education charity Think Global in the UK, provides access to teaching resources, case studies and background information. Resources can be searched by a number of criteria including learning area, topic, year level and price range. Access is through free registration and you can sign up for a quarterly newsletter.

Global Environment Facility (GEF)

The Global Environment Facility sees governments, the private sector, non-government organisations, and international institutions address complex environmental issues and support sustainable development. It finances actions to address seven critical threats to the global environment: biodiversity, climate change, degradation of international waters, ozone depletion, land degradation, chemicals and sustainable forest management.

Global forest change map

This interactive global map from the University of Maryland uses satellite data to show forest losses and gains around the world between 2000 and 2012. Logging is the main cause of forest loss; forests fires, disease and storms also contribute. The map indicates that Brazil has been successful in slowing its rate of deforestation, while Indonesia had the fastest increase in forest loss.

Global Perspectives

Global Perspectives booklet cover
The Global Perspectives: A Framework for Global Education in Australian Schools (2008) booklet is a concise, practical and philosophical guide to including a global perspective across the curriculum.
Read more
Year level: F-2,3-4,5-6,7-8,9-10,11-12
Issue: Australia's aid, Environment, Human rights, Peace building, Poverty reduction

Global Words

Global Words, produced by World Vision Australia and the Primary English Teaching Association Australia, integrates English curriculum with global citizenship. It consists of four units for years 3–4, 5–6 and 7–8. Using a range of texts and text types, topics include refugees and migration, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, neighbours and the Asia-Pacific region, and sustainability.

Globalise Me!

Globalise me! CD image
The Globalise Me! A Student's Guide to Globalisation (2004) CD-ROM presents a range of resources to explore globalisation through the themes of people, culture, economy, trade, development, technology, politics and environment.
Read more
Year level: 9-10,11-12
Issue: Australia's aid, Environment, Globalisation, Human rights

Kiribati and climate change

Kiribati and climate change

At only four metres above sea level, the small, island nation of Kiribati is one of the countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change and sea-level rise. The country is responding by managing water resources better, monitoring groundwater quality and improving sanitation to reduce groundwater pollution. President of Kiribati, Anote Tong, outlined his concerns in the lead up to the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, 2009.

Issue: Environment
Country: Kiribati
Video Length: ??

Lifting the Lid

Lifting the lid cover
Lifting the Lid: A Teaching Resource for Primary Teachers for the International Year of Sanitation (2008) is packed with useful background information, case studies and teaching activities exploring the importance of sanitation.
Read more
Year level: 3-4,5-6
Issue: Australia's aid, Environment, Poverty reduction, Water and sanitation
Country: Timor-Leste, Indonesia, Philippines

Looking at Forests

Looking at forests cover
The Looking at Forests (2011) booklet of information and activities develops knowledge and understanding about forests at a local, national and global level.
Read more
Year level: 5-6,7-8
Issue: Environment, Food security, Globalisation, Poverty reduction
Country: Australia, Indonesia

MDG 7 Ensure Environmental Sustainability

This video outlines the work being done to achieve the seventh Millennium Development Goal and looks at the challenges of providing fresh water in Kiribati arising from climate change.

This video outlines the work being done to achieve the seventh Millennium Development Goal and looks at the challenges of providing fresh water in Kiribati arising from climate change.

Issue: Environment, Water and sanitation
Country: Kiribati
Video Length: ??

Modern Day Uab

Modern Day Uab is an animation of a traditional story from Palau about a greedy child with a voracious appetite which leads to the sinking of the island and inundation of the sea. It is followed by a reflection about how current use of the environment is having the same effect. It outlines changes in water management that are being implemented to address water issues.

My Place Asia Australia

My Place Asia Australia is a rich resource designed for use with upper primary and lower secondary students, but is easily adapted for use at the lower primary levels. The resource is based on an innovative cultural exchange between students from Australia, Korea, China and India, creating and sharing images and explanatory information about places special to them. The teachers guide introduces the project and provides advice and suggestions for teachers.

New Internationalist

For 40 years, New Internationalist magazine has been presenting concise overviews of political, environmental, economic and human rights issues with plenty of voices from around the world, and great images and graphics. An iPad version of the magazine has recently been released. New Internationalist also produces a range of educational, fiction, food and No-Nonsense guide books, and atlases and maps. There is an online shop selling fair trade items.

Our Day Project

Child Fund Connect's Our Day Project (26 minutes) combines video footage children in Australia, Laos, Vietnam and Timor-Leste have produced about their lives. It shows how daily life is very different – but also in many ways the same – in very different parts of the world.

Pacific Neighbours

Pacific Neighbours book cover
Pacific Neighbours: Understanding the Pacific Islands (2009) is a resource book to develop understanding of the region, its history and geography, its political and social development, and its people and their cultures.
Read more
Year level: 7-8,9-10
Issue: Australia's aid, Environment, Human rights, Globalisation, Peace building, Water and sanitation
Country: Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Australia

Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD)

The Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) program offers incentives for developing countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions caused by deforestation and seek sustainable development by putting a price on the carbon stored in the forests.

Smoke – the killer in the kitchen

More than half the world's population depends on fuels that give off lethal fumes, causing respiratory infections and nearly two million deaths a year. Practical Action outlines three simple technologies that can reduce indoor smoke.

The Commission on Sustainable Development

The Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) is the high-level forum for sustainable development within the United Nations system. It promotes and reviews progress on the three pillars of sustainable development: economic development, social development and environmental protection.

Thinking Globally

Thinking globally cover
Thinking Globally: Global Perspectives in the Early Years Classroom (2008) provides a detailed description of teaching with a global perspective through cross-curricular activities and multimedia.
Read more
Year level: F-2,3-4
Issue: Australia's aid, Environment, Poverty reduction, Human rights, Peace building
Country: Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vietnam

Transparency International

Transparency International is a global civil society organisation which raises awareness of the damaging effects of corruption. It works with partners in government, business and civil society to develop and implement effective measures to tackle corruption. The website provides details about corruption by topic and country as well as its publication of the annual corruption perception index.

This page intentionally left blank