Hamburg/Annapolis, October 28: Environmental education programmes could be key to the long-term fight against the devastating impacts of climate change, say a group of representatives of education and environmental ministries from around the world, recently convened by the World Future Council (WFC) in Annapolis, Maryland, USA.
The WFC workshop hosted experts from around the world to explore the positive impacts of the Maryland’s Environmental Literacy (E-lit) Standards and share best practise from their countries with delegates from 16 countries, including Australia, Austria, Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Germany, Hungary, India, Kenya, Luxembourg, Mongolia, Peru, United Arab Emirates and the US.
Maryland’s E-Lit Standards are unique in providing a mandatory graduation requirement, which has seen environmental education holistically merged across the entire curriculum, allowing young people to develop the necessary social competencies for the environmental and social challenges of tomorrow. The WFC believes this approach is working so successfully, that all school systems should seek to adopt a similar policy.
WFC delegate Daniel Arturo Abreu Mejia, who works in the Climate Change Council of the Dominican Republic said: “We do not have the capacity to fight all the problems caused by climate change, so we must think long-term. We have chosen to invest much of our resources into environmental education. We have been training journalists, NGOs and over 4000 teachers so far. After witnessing the Maryland Standards in action, I’m inspired by the way the environment is woven into other societal issues, and have ideas for how we can improve.”
Children disproportionately affected by climate change
The world’s population has more children and youth than ever before, with 1.8 billion young people aged between 10-24 years old. More than 1.5 billion of these young people live in developing countries, and are disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change. As the world prepares for the next global climate conference in Morocco, collective behaviour change to combat climate change cannot come fast enough. A key part of that is raising an environmentally literate generation of problem solvers.
Secretary Mark Belton, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, co-chair of the Partnership for Children in Nature said: “We are not able to fully predict what the next 10 years will bring, let alone what our world will be like at the end of this century. But here in Maryland, we do know our best investment is to prepare our next generation of professionals and stewards with the training and ability to sustain and improve our environment.”
Environmental education can help deliver Sustainable Development Goals
Practical environmental education that is integrated into systemic education has been shown to offer a wide variety of benefits for students – enhancing engagement, raising test scores, and increasing well-being – as well as the environment and wider society. It can also bring governments a step closer to delivering Sustainable Development Goal Four.
Samia Kassid, Senior Project Manager for the Rights of Children at the World Future Council explained: “We are hearing from our Maryland colleagues, that the potential ripple effect from their state wide E-lit policy is huge. Not only is an entire generation of children growing up with a better understanding of their natural world and the threats it faces, they are also going home and involving their parents, which is leading to behaviour change within individual homes and communities.”
Legislators and delegates who took part in the WFC workshop are now taking their shared learnings back to their own ministries to make changes to national and state curricula.
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