NaturGut Ophoven: Training next generation for climate protection

Wasserburg Ophoven with its park estate was redeveloped to create a renowned climate and environmental educational centre by an association of dedicated conservationists. Since then, the results of this visionary project have grown to include the first climate adventure park and a climate protection manual for educators.

Just a few kilometres away from the Leverkusen chemical industrial complex we find this idyllic setting: located in the Opladen district, the listed and formerly moated Wasserburg Ophoven castle has 60,000 square metres of naturally landscaped park estate, in which the city of Leverkusen together with dedicated conservationists has built a climate and environmental educational centre, which is well-known far beyond NRW. Here, at the "Centre of Excellence for Urban Climate Education and Sustainability" the Förderverein NaturGut Ophoven e.V. (association) provides more than 60 exciting and particularly instructive educational programmes for all types of schools, kindergartens, professionals and interested adults – including targeted programmes for low-income groups.

Engine for progress:

  • germany's first climate-neutral environment information centre
  • the first KlimaErlebnisPark (climate experience park)
  • the only permanent exhibition on the climate for children and families in NRW
  • motivation and information campaigns
  • innovative educational materials

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Photo: NaturGut Ophoven

Energy guardians at the door: Just inside the gates of the nation's first climate experience park, one is greeted by the artist Otto Rumpf's "Recyclist". Not only is it a symbol for the idea of recycling, but also for the use of renewable energies: In his hands, he is holding a spiral plate driven by solar energy and a wind wheel.

The aim of the NaturGut Ophoven Educational Centre is to impart knowledge on climate change, climate protection and adaptation strategies and to illustrate suitable courses of action to citizens.

Climate-friendly awareness and behaviour is very important and necessary for climate protection. Dr. Hans-Martin Kochanek, director of NaturGut Ophoven, knows this only too well: "The effects of good climate education projects such as the NaturGut Ophoven ripple out through the population." Even if the CO2 savings in educational projects can only be measured with difficulty, it is an elementary basis for active climate protection and therefore "the work of NaturGut Ophoven is also reflected in the carbon footprint," explains Dr. Kochanek.

Through the commitment of the NaturGut Ophoven association, several outstanding and partly unique educational projects have emerged. Four of them are particularly interesting and relevant to KlimaExpo.NRW:

NRW's first permanent climate exhibition for children and families:

The "Energy City" Museum for Children and Young People was opened in 2000 and since March 2013 has become the first and only permanent exhibition on climate for children and families in NRW: "Energy City in transit – Climate and the quest for contentment" is the title of the extraordinary exhibition which brings climate change closer to the next generation in a creative and playful manner using experiments and hands-on exhibits.

Germany's first Climate Adventure Park:

In October 2013, NRW Environment Minister Johannes Remmel opened the first Climate Adventure Park across the federal states of Germany. The interactive stations on the site encourage visitors to reflect on all aspects of their climate-related everyday behaviour: energy, consumer behaviour, nutrition and mobility, etc.

Germany's first Climate Manual for Educators:

Just recently, the NaturGut Ophoven issued a series of educational materials for climate protection work at elementary level. In cooperation with model kindergartens, pedagogical methods and materials were developed and tested. "Kleiner Daumen – große Wirkung, Klimaschutz im Kindergarten" ("Small thumbs – big effect: climate protection in kindergarten") is the first nationwide manual on climate protection for educators.

Targeted information campaigns:

In addition, NaturGut Ophoven informs target groups on the subject of climate change beyond its boundaries. Under the campaign "Climate protection for everyone, every day," the association has been engaged in anchoring a basic motivation for climate protection in the population from 2007-2014. NaturGut Ophoven has targeted the population through action campaigns, theme days, and public relations etc. Small and medium-sized businesses have been addressed via the "Leverkusen Climate Business Breakfasts" and a competition on the issue of resource conservation.

NaturGut Ophoven project video

Video: KlimaExpo.NRW

Photo: NaturGut Ophoven

"Good climate education projects radiate out to the general population."

Dr. Hans-Martin Kochanek, Director NaturGut Ophoven

Partners and sponsors

  • NaturGut Ophoven
  • Ministerium für Klimaschutz, Umwelt, Landwirtschaft, Natur- und Verbraucherschutz (MKULNV)
  • Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz, Bau und Reaktorsicherheit (BmUB)
  • Stiftung Umwelt und Entwicklung