Environmental Education | How was it formed? The goals, objectives and guiding principles of Environmental Education

The Word "environment" has originally come from French word "environ" which means "surrounding" and "meant" means the auctioning. The term "environment" etymologically means surroundings. According to the committee on Environment Health Association of America, environment comprises the surrounding in which man lives, works and plays.

What is Environmental Education ?

Environmental Education is a necessary tool for making appropriate decisions concerning the solution and prevention of environmental problems which may be considered a disequilibrium caused by certain factors in the established relationship between humanity, animals, plants and other organisms and the environment. Pressures from rapid population growth, uncontrolled and lavish consumption, urbanization, industrial expansion and advances in science and technology and their application coupled with huge energy utilization have caused serious environmental problems. Humanity is the cause and maker of the current environmental problems. Hence, humanity needs to be educated for the understanding, solution and prevention of these problems.

How was Environmental Education formed? Or Give detailed account on the background of the Environmental Education.

It was during the United Nations Conference on Human Environment, Stockholm, Sweden, 1972, that for the first time governments at the highest level came together to take stock of what mankind had done to the environment of which was an integral part. Industrialized countries expressed their stock of what had happened to them in the process of industrialization and fast development while developing countries expressed that poverty and under-development were the major factors of environmental degradation (United Nation, 1972). Thus, a global concern was expressed and needed actions were formulated

     Recommendation 96 of the Stockholm Conference stated that "the Secretary-general, the Organization of the United Nation System, especially the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation and the other international agencies concerned, after consultation and agreement, that the necessary steps to establish an international programme in environmental education, interdisciplinary in approach, in-school and out-school, encompassing all levels of education and directed towards the general public, in particular the ordinary citizens living in rural and urban areas, youth and adults alike with a view to educating him as to the simple steps he might take within his means, to manage and control his environment " ( United Nation, 1972). Thus, environmental education was recognised and its development was recommended by the world community as a measure for the understanding, protection and improvement of the environment and its quality.

      In response to the above recommendation, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in cooperation with United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) launched the UNESCO -UNEP International Environmental Education Programme (IEEP) in 1975 which is housed in UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. International Education Programme's (IEEP's) objectives are to assist government, national, regional and international institutions to incorporate Environmental Education (EE) into formal and non-formal education systems and programmes in order to:
    i) make people aware of the nature of the relationship between humanity and the environment on which he depends;

   ii) impart knowledge and skills to understand and solve environment and development related problems; and

   iii) enable people to acquire the attitudes and motivations leading to sound decisions and civic actions for the protection and improvement of the environment and its quality. 

    As the population are rapidly growing in all over the world, the environmental problems are also increasing like global warming, deforestation, etc. These problems will only pause if the people are educated and if each of us comes forward to take crucial actions for the protection of the environment depletion. 

The goals, objectives and guiding principles of Environmental Education:


The environment education or International Environmental Education Programme (IEEP) was launched by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in 1972 in UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.
      For the clarification of the concept, goals, objectives and guiding principles of environmental education and formulation of strategies for its development at national, regional and international levels, UNESCO in cooperation with UNEP organised, in the context of International Environmental Education Programme (IEEP)  activities, the first Ministerial International Conference on Environmental Education in 1977 in Tbilisi (in the then USSR).

The goals of Environmental Education formulated and adopted at the Tbilisi Conference (UNESCO-UNEP, 1977) are:

i) to foster clear awareness of and concern about economic, social, political and ecological interdependence in urban and rural areas;

ii) to provide every person with opportunities to acquire the knowledge, values, attitudes, commitment and skills needed to protect and improve the environment;

iii) and to create new pattern of behaviour of individuals, groups and society as a whole towards the environment.

The objectives of Environmental Education endorsed at the Tbilisi Conference (UNESCO-UNEP, 1977) are:

i) Awareness: to help social groups and individuals acquire an awareness of and sensitivity to the total environment and its allied problems.

ii) Knowledge: to help social groups and individuals gain a variety of experience in, and acquire a basic understanding of, the environment and its associated problems.

iii) Attitudes: to help social groups and individuals acquire a set of values and feelings of concern for the environment and the motivation for activity participating in environmental improvement and protection.

iv) Participation: to provide social groups and individuals with an opportunity to be actively involved at all levels in working towards of environmental problems.

The guiding principles of Environmental Education developed and endorsed at the Tbilisi Conference (UNESCO-UNEP, 1977) are:

i) To consider the environment in its totality --- natural and built, technological and social ( economic, political, technical, cultural, historical moral, aesthetic);

ii) To be a continuous lifelong process, beginning at the pre-school level and continuing through all formal and non-formal states;

iii) To examine major environmental issues from local, national, regional and international point of view so that students receive insights into environmental conditions in other geographical areas;

iv) To focus on current and potential environmental situations while taking into account the historical perspective;

v) To promote the value and necessity of local, national and international cooperation in the prevention and solution of environmental problems ;

vi) To explicitly consider environmental aspects in plans for development and growth;

vii) To enable learners to have a role in planning their learning experiences and provide an opportunity for making decisions and accepting their consequences;

viii) To relate environmental sensitivity, knowledge, problem-solving skills and values clarification to every age, but with special emphasis on environmental sensitivity to the learner's own community in early years;

ix) To help learners discover the symptoms and real causes of environmental problems;

x) To emphasis the complexity of environmental problems and thus the need to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills;

xi) To utilise diverse learning environments and a broad array of educational approaches to teaching/learning about and from the environment with due stress on practical activities and first-hand experience. 


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