Project led by York prof receives Minister’s Award for Environmental Excellence

A provincial project led by York University Professor Lewis Molot, Faculty of Environmental Studies (FES), earned a special distinction recently from Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change.

Lewis Molot

The Ontario EcoSchools project, which runs province-wide to help schools become leaders in sustainability through environmental education and certification, was named a recipient of the 2015 Minister’s Award for Environmental Excellence.

Ontario EcoSchools is one of 10 recipients honoured with the award for 2015.

According to Molot, the Ontario EcoSchools project emerged from work he did as FES associate dean between 1998 and 2001. In 1998, FES formed a consortium with several Ontario school board to develop and provide Ontario schools with resources units (lesson plans) incorporating environmental themes for grades K to 12.

“Our objective was to provide teachers with resources on environmental topics that met provincial curriculum guidelines,” said Molot.

The consortium morphed into the Ontario EcoSchools project years later, said Molot, in response to federal grants for climate change education.

The Ontario EcoSchools project serves 1,765 schools from 52 different school boards across Ontario
The Ontario EcoSchools project serves 1,765 schools from 52 different school boards across Ontario (image:

“Federal funding stopped in 2006 when the Conservatives replaced the federal Liberals, but the Ontario government stepped in and has provided most of the funding since,” said Molot, who chaired the original consortium and have chaired the Ontario EcoSchools steering committee since its inception.

“Ontario EcoSchools is designed to improve eco-literacy of students and environmental performance of schools and other board facilities,” he said.

To date, 1,765 schools from 52 different school boards have become more environmentally responsible by using the Ontario EcoSchools program to develop ecological literacy and environmental practices. This represents 36 per cent of Ontario schools and more than 882,000 students.

eco schools logo-printThe Minister’s Award for Environmental Excellence is a program that “recognizes outstanding work in environmental protection; encourages others to make their own efforts to reduce their impact on Ontario’s environment; fosters innovation in environmental protection; and, raises awareness of the importance of protecting the environment”.

“I am very pleased that Ontario EcoSchools received the 2015 Minister’s Award for Environmental Excellence,” said Molot. “It is a tribute to the quality of the program but also to the project staff who have worked tirelessly for years to develop and deliver it to schools throughout Ontario.”

The project enhances York University’s recognition as a leader in addressing Global Climate Change through pedagogical initiatives. York University has administered the Ontario EcoSchools initiative since 2005.

For more on Ontario EcoSchools, visit For more on the Minister’s Award for Environmental Excellence, visit