In Rio de Janeiro, an increasing number of schools are becoming greener and adding climate change to the curriculum, disseminating important knowledge to students and communities.

Initiated in 2016, six schools in the Brazilian coastal city joined the pilot of the Sustainable Schools Project. Now at eight schools, the project is a pioneering initiative in Brazil, developed to empower students, teachers, and their surrounding communities with knowledge on sustainability and climate change. By teaching new concepts and practices, students learn how to use natural resources in a sustainable fashion, the importance of recycling, and how to shrink their carbon footprint.

40 sustainable schools by the end of 2020

Cities100 – 2017

The schools are not merely talking about climate change, they are walking the walk, too. Participating schools have developed vegetable gardens, composting facilities, vegetable oil collection to avoid disposal in the sewers, and electronics and batteries waste collection. The schools have also installed PV solar panels, LED lamps, and hybrid lampposts with integrated wind and solar power devices to power them off-grid. The city plans to have 40 sustainable schools by the end of 2020.

The challenge

In Rio de Janeiro’s low-income areas, there is a need for educating residents about the importance of recycling waste, water conservation, and general low-emission habits, which the Sustainable Schools Project addresses.


Environmental More than 800 liters of oil were collected by students from three schools in 2016 in order to avoid improper disposal and water pollution.

Social Providing students with a hands-on environmental education enables them to learn the importance of cooperation and the effects of doing good in their communities at an early age.

Health The project promotes healthy eating, and communities surrounding the schools benefit from the organic vegetables grown at the schools.

About Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro is the second-most populous municipality in Brazil and the sixth-most populous in the Americas. Part of the city has been designated as a World Heritage Site, named “Rio de Janeiro: Carioca Landscapes between the Mountain and the Sea”, by UNESCO on 1 July 2012 as a Cultural Landscape. Rio de Janeiro is one of the most visited cities in the Southern Hemisphere and is known for its natural settings, Carnival, samba, bossa nova, and balneario beaches. It is considered the second most beautiful city in Brazil, after the city of Curitiba.

Rio de Janeiro
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