Teaching children about environmental issues is essential because it can help them understand the importance of protecting the planet and the role they can play in preserving it for future generations.
Environmental education needs more investment and innovation if future generations are to fully respond to the climate emergency, experts say. Researchers have warned that unless there is significant support and investment in environmental and science education, the world’s environmental crisis will worsen. Reforms would assist young people in addressing our current situation’s complex, interconnected, and dynamic issues.
According to the experts, governments and other organizations must direct more funding to education innovation in response to consistent warnings from scientists about trends in the deterioration of ecosystems, biodiversity, and climate, among other environmental issues.
Writing in Environmental Education Research, Alan Reid, from Monash University, Justin Dillon, from the University of Exeter, Jo-Anne Ferreira, from the University of Southern Queensland, and Nicole Ardoin from Stanford University, who are senior editors of the journal, say environmental education is a “cornerstone for the social and environmental changes” needed in the future.
The popularity of outdoor education centers and activities reflects a broader interest in nature and the environment, as well as when the arts, media, and civil society address the climate crisis.Alan Reid
Environmental and science education helps people recognize false information and ideologies, as well as understand and respond appropriately to climate emergency warnings. They add, however, that reaching an agreement on our environmental problems is not just a matter for scientists. It must be supported by those in the humanities, arts, and social sciences, as well as the general public. Only then will recent calls by organizations such as UNEP and UNESCO for “environmental education to be a core component of all education systems at all levels by 2025” have a chance of gaining the multilateral and multi-leveled support that the situation so desperately requires.
The academics highlight international surveys that show many governments continue to fail to support and invest enough in environmental and sustainability education across pre-school, school, college and university settings.
According to Professor Ferreira: “The research base is unequivocal about the superiority of whole-school approaches to quick curriculum fixes for dealing with issues like the climate emergency. The existential risk aspects necessitate an examination of investment and innovation in lifelong learning and non-school based provision, as well as an examination of the current focus of initial teacher education and continuing professional development.”
According to Professor Reid: “The popularity of outdoor education centers and activities reflects a broader interest in nature and the environment, as well as when the arts, media, and civil society address the climate crisis. Flagship environmental and science communication documentaries such as David Attenborough’s investigation into the causes and consequences of the climate emergency whet many people’s appetites for learning more from credible sources. Sir David’s own learning journey in understanding the urgency of the situation highlights the rich learning opportunities available to all of us, especially in the run-up to COP26 in Glasgow.”
He added: “Ensuring any form of environmental education is relevant, coherent, fit for purpose, funded appropriately, and available to current and future generations within and beyond the curriculum will be crucial to addressing sound and pertinent warnings from scientists.”
According to Professor Dillon: “To mitigate the effects of the environmental crisis, global leaders should discuss how to reimagine, recreate, and restore environmental education. Countries should integrate environmental and science education into their societies in ways that make sense on a local level.”
“Only by investing in education, particularly environmental and sustainability education, will it be possible to radically alter the course we are currently on, and thus demonstrate to ourselves and future generations that sufficient heed was paid to our warnings,” Professor Ardoin said.