A powerhouse of the green movement at BIS
Andi Pichler, Teacher Assistant Grade 2 and Sustainability Development Officer of Bavarian International School (BIS)
"We simply cannot afford another generation treating the earth as if the planet were an 'all you can eat self service running sushi'." It is pointed, even shocking sentences like these that Andi Pichler dictates precisely into the journalist's notebook when the topic is environmental protection. The 59-year-old Austrian is one of the driving forces behind the Eco-Schools programme at Bavarian International School (BIS), Teacher Assistant in Grade 2 and, more recently, officially Sustainability Development Officer.
His passion for the big topic "There is no planet B" has a literally natural background. His family lives in the countryside of Salzburg and runs an organic vegetable farm where respecting and preserving natural resources is the foundation of making a living. Later he studied biology at the University of Vienna and together with other activists from Austrian NGOs he protested at power construction sites to prevent the destruction of some of the last intact habitats in Europe. Today these areas are national parks. In 1992 he participated in a biological oceanography course at the Bermuda Biological Station for Research where he first came across time series data indicating sea level rise. That’s when he realized that climate change was not a problem of the future.
"When I was working for an engineering company doing groundwater analysis and environmental monitoring, I experienced cause-effect relationships of human impact first hand. What are the consequences if you spray pesticides on corn fields? How long do residues of these chemicals linger in the groundwater, what happens to biodiversity, the food web and the drinking water supply ?" asks Andi Pichler, who invests every free minute, even outside of working hours, to maintain the gardens, flower beds, meadows and habitats on the Haimhausen Campus.
A unique selling point of BIS
"Passing on this knowledge to the next generations is what drives me. At BIS in Haimhausen we have the best conditions for this because the forest, meadows and the Amper River offer countless opportunities for experiential learning. This gives BIS a truly unique selling point," says Pichler, who is in his 15th year working for the IB World School in Haimhausen and Munich (1,200 students from more than 60 nations).
The fact that 27 primary school students are now involved as Eco-Agents in the "After School Activities" programme and 15 students have chosen the topic of environmental protection in the "Enrichment Programme" (a curriculum topic chosen by the child) is also due to the dedication of Andi Pichler, one of our powerhouses of the green movement at BIS.
The work with the youngest children again forms the basis for the projects of the numerous Green Teams that continue in the secondary school. Twice in a row, the Bavarian International School was awarded the highest distinction, the European Eco-Schools Award with three stars.
Despite the first signs of improvement at BIS, Andi Pichler still sees many opportunities for everyone to get involved in a topic such as biodiversity, waste avoidance, carbon zero or healthy living. "We do not have the time anymore to just do what we can without leaving our comfort zone, but to do what needs to be done, and the enthusiasm and engagement of my students is a continuous source of motivation to keep going in that direction."
For the year 2030, Andi Pichler’s wish is that BIS uses 100% renewable energy and that every member of the BIS community understands the ideas and values of being an Eco School and is passionate about supporting our goals.