Ecology Note - From Critical Thinking to Critical Action
In order to address and respond to emerging environmental issues, it is important to encourage all stakeholders to take responsible and collaborative actions through education that includes awareness raising and capacity development. In the field of waste management, education plays a critical role in establishing the 3Rs principles (reduce, reuse and recycle) and promoting more sustainable consumption patterns that prevent waste generation and achieve proper waste management. It is especially important to empower the young generation through environmental education, so that they make responsible decisions and take actions early on in life. Therefore, alongside its provision of support for proper waste management, CCET has been helping to develop environmental education programs and materials for partner countries in Asia, including Myanmar, Cambodia and Bhutan.
In this context, CCET’s “Ecology Note” educational material, which is based on the local context of the country, including their daily customs, lifestyle, and Gross National Happiness (GNH), was adopted nationwide by Bhutanese elementary schools at the request of the country's National Environment Commission (NEC).
Based on CCET’s experience in waste management, the Ecology Note was designed to provide opportunities to develop a sense of ownership and responsibility. Using an active learning approach, it also aimed to foster the ability to identify and analyse key issues and find optimal solutions by employing collaborative and self-motivated activities such as exploration, discussions, and presentations. The booklet also deepened students’ understanding of sustainable waste and resource management topics including waste prevention, composting, and the 3Rs in general.
In this webinar, the presentation and discussion will focus on 1) how environmental education can be designed by the government and city, 2) how it can be effectively implemented through an active learning approach that is directed towards taking critical actions and transformation for sustainable development, and 3) how international cooperation and mutual learning among countries and cities can enhance meaningful education.
This webinar focused on environmental education and the application of a specific environmental education guide, “Ecology Note”, developed by The Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) Center Collaborating with UNEP on Environmental Technologies (CCET). One of the main themes of the webinar explored the progress of the adoption of “Ecology Note” in elementary and secondary education in Bhutan since 2020. The webinar also discussed, using Japanese cities as examples, how a city promotes and supports environmental education for children, as well as the role of the Japanese Government in strengthening environmental education at the national level.
The implementation of “Ecology Note” in Bhutan is a response to increasingly severe environmental challenges, especially waste issues, by the National Environment Commission (NEC) with the technical support of CCET. Waste management has become one of the main focuses of Bhutan to address its growing waste management challenges, including changing the behaviours of different stakeholders, while environmental education targeting the young generation has also been positioned as one of the important strategies for promoting 3R through raising awareness and enhancing collaboration and behavioural changes of individuals. As a result, Ecology Note is developed to improve youths’ understanding of sustainable waste and resource management, based on their local context including their daily customs, lifestyles, and Gross National Happiness.
As Bhutan showcased the progress of implementing Ecology Note in primary and secondary schools in the webinar, Bhutanese’s experience can be very valuable. Bhutan discussed how Ecology Note is developed in alignment with their goal of promoting water management and displayed their implementation at each stage of their primary and secondary education. How the Bhutanese government designed and integrated Ecology Note with their local education system can be referred to as a step-by-step guide, by other administrations that are hoping to achieve SCP through the promotion of environmental education. Bhutan’s experience can be especially valuable to other administrations with similar economic or cultural backgrounds.
The environmental education development in Japan on a city and national level is also very valuable. Kitakyushu City, which represents the city level case in the webinar, also showed how the Ecology Note is adopted in elementary education, as well as the implementation of other tools like action-oriented workshops, educational talks, and certificates. On the national level, the Ministry of the Environment displayed the implementation of various policies and programs, like education material development, awards programs, and, beyond Japan, international collaboration with other actors. The case of Japan illustrated the importance of how both local and national environmental education strategies will be important in achieving sustainable development goals, as well as the diversity of different tools that can be used to promote environmental education.