environmental education

Environmental education is considered as an educational approach which intends to teach people how to deal with the environment and natural resources in a responsible manner. It relates to ecology, environment and nature as major areas in particular.

For over 20 years, the topic environmental education developed further towards sustainability. The UN Decade “Education for Sustainable Development” (ESD), which lasted from 2005 to 2014, was characteristic of this. Meanwhile, issues like social affairs, economy, politics and culture play a significant role in the overall view. The extent of measures for environmental education in Germany amounts to over 4600 stationary environmental educational facilities, which are extremely diverse in their designs. For example, there are biosphere reserves, nature parks, forest kindergartens, eco-schools, ecology- and environmental stations as well as national parks, biology centres, forest schools or outdoor laboratories. In addition to that, numerous environmental educators work to change the human’s overall awareness of the environment. Being the umbrella for environmental education facilities in Germany, the Working Group Nature and Environmental Education (ANU) has to be pointed out for their commitment in nature education.

Pursuing the same objective as all initiatives and educational facilities, our environmental and nature game Ecogon intends to look at the environment with its components, interdependencies and cycles as well as to evoke an increased environmental awareness. Next to the playful nature, cooperative elements are integrated, in order for our educational game Ecogon to pass on knowledge with fun and joy. Whether you have to deal with animals, plants or the ecosystem you are in – everything is of importance and is dependent on each other.

environmental education - Ecogon

Building on the UN Decade, the United Nations established a five year world action program (WAP), which should include the importance of sustainability in every area of life on a national and international level. The education campaign “Education for Sustainable Development”, which was declared in 2015 by UNESCO, follows the purpose of creating the same living conditions for future generations as there are today. An additional issue the ESD focuses on is that living quality is not being created at the expense of other places on earth. Main focuses of sustainable development are to create a balance between giving and taking, to develop and support sustainable innovations as well as to ensure biological and cultural variety. The goal of realizing global sustainable development only works by integrating sustainability into educational systems. First of all, sustainable thinking and action has to be learned and embedded into people’s minds in order to protect our planet. Further objectives like a general improvement of health status, fighting against poverty and starvation and the establishment of equality go along with protecting the earth in the 2013 UNESCO agenda. The WAP includes the following five priority areas for action worldwide:

  1. Political support: The concept of ESD shall be integrated in the relevant areas of politics.
  2. All-embracing transformation of learning and teaching environment: All educational contexts shall integrate the sustainability principles of the ESD.
  3. Competence development for teachers and multipliers: Educators and multipliers have to enhance their competencies regarding ESD in order to disseminate more knowledge.
  4. Strengthening and mobilization of youth: In order to promote environmental awareness, plenty more measures should be developed, especially for the youth.
  5. Promotion of sustainable development on a local level: The extension of ESD-programs and networks shall occur in cities, communes and rural areas.

Germany takes a lead role in the achievement of the UNESCO framework in an international comparison, since ESD shall be increasingly supported by politics. Johanna Wanka, Germany’s Federal Minister of Education and Research, established a meeting of the national platform ESD. Thereby economical and political decision makers meet two times a year to discuss further approaches. The ESD-platform gets supported by six expert forums, consisting of well-experienced specialists, as well as spokespersons of partner networks, which contribute nationwide input of ESD-campaigners. The expert forums subdivide along an educational chain: early childhood education, school, professional education, university, informal and non-formal learning and communes. Expert forums include authoring of recommendations, policy papers and orientation guidelines as their scope of duties. Exemplary ESD-initiatives will be awarded and successful best practices get systematically promoted to increase involvement in sustainable development. Measures to effectively learn of sustainable action are summed up in a national action agenda, which should be released in early summer 2017. Next to lighthouse initiatives which aim to disseminate ESD, timetables and syllabuses as well as educational regulations shall integrate ESD better than before. A yearly agenda conference provides space for debates and new innovative ideas.

If you were not lucky enough to learn something about the environment and nature in school, at extra-curricular events or in university, you can catch up at any time – with the interactive learning and cooperation game Ecogon, you are able to play together with friends or family.