What is environmental education: concept and objectives

Human beings have always interacted and modified the environment, that is, environmental problems are not a new phenomenon. Although there have always been environmental problems, the worrying thing is that in recent times, they have accelerated and become overcrowded. With the idea of ​​making the population aware of these environmental problems, their causes, consequences and solutions, environmental education emerged and has become vital for the future of the planet.

The environmental crisis

Currently, environmental problems do not develop independently of each other but are phenomena that interact with each other to give rise to an environmental reality different from that caused by these isolated phenomena. For example, population growth is an environmental problem and is linked to other problems related to environmental pollution, since the more humans there are on the planet, it seems that the more we pollute.

For this reason, more than environmental problems, we can speak of an environmental crisis that has global effects . It is in this crisis when we must find innovative solutions that reinvent our way of understanding and relating to the environment.

However, these innovative solutions should not only be technological, but also question some of the values ​​of today’s society, since they are the basis of the environmental crisis. In this way, environmental education plays a very important role in promoting learning and participation in what we seek to understand.

What’s the ambiental education

The relationships between education and the environment are not a new thing, their novelty is that the environment becomes the educational medium, content or didactic resource, but also its main purpose and objective. In this way, although its origins are ancient, environmental education as we understand it today is a concept that emerged at the end of the seventies .

In addition, environmental education enjoys a certain institutional recognition. Internationally, for example, it is the United Nations, through organizations such as UNESCO and UNEP, that promotes environmental education programs and studies. Outside the international arena, it is the entities, non-governmental organizations or educators that can promote environmental education programs.

In this way, environmental education serves to teach the values ​​and importance of caring for the environment , the current problems and possible solutions and how to apply them. For example, for the little ones it focuses not only on theoretical classes, but above all with environmental education activities for young people , since this way they can better understand all this and in the future even have their own ideas to prevent and solve these problems.

Functions and objectives of environmental education

One of the primary objectives of environmental education is to ensure that both individuals and groups understand the complexity of the environment (which results from the interactions of different aspects: biological, physical, social, economic, cultural, etc.) and obtain the knowledge, values ​​and practical skills that allow them to participate in the prevention and solution of some of the current environmental problems.

Environmental education, therefore, should not be limited to a theoretical aspect of the educational process, but should make members of society actively participate , to the extent of their possibilities. Among the objectives of environmental education are:

  • Create awareness: provide the appropriate tools to people and social groups so that they acquire greater sensitivity and awareness about the environment and its specific problems.
  • Create knowledge: help people understand the environment, its processes, the problems it faces and the role of humanity in them.
  • Foster attitudes: encourage people to learn social values ​​and an interest in the environment that encourage them to participate in its protection and improvement.
  • Building skills: encouraging people to acquire the skills necessary to solve environmental problems.
  • Ability to evaluate: getting people to be able to evaluate environmental education programs and propose improvements.
  • Participation: encourage in people the desire to actively participate in the protection of the environment.

For this education to be truly effective, it must be linked to legislation, policies, decisions and control measures that governments approve in relation to the environment. This requires the inclusion of environmental education programs in planning and general policies. Sometimes attractive programs are launched with good staging, but they do not participate too much in the management that is carried out. Therefore, environmental education should be integrated with environmental management and not be used as a measure to justify deficiencies in management.

The current need for a transition towards sustainability requires profound economic, social, political, technological and educational changes.

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