B.I.O. International Environmental Education Workshop
Athens, March 2001
In view of the urgent need to counter the crisis in values that has resulted in serious environmental threats and to assure the continuity and appreciation of bios – life – on our planet, the participants of the B.I.O. Workshop on Environmental Education, who convened in Athens on March 29 – April 1, 2001, reiterate the B.I.O. proposals for an all-encompassing environmental education and, being encouraged by the progress resulting from the expansion of the sustainability concept promoted by the UN, its special Organisations and numerous NGOs, recommend the implementation of the following issues of highest priority:
Building new ethics through environmental education
– Environmental ethics should be at the core of every human endeavour. The involvement of every individual and sector of society and the co-operation of culture and technology are vital in this context.
– There is need for a holistic interdisciplinary approach in curriculum planning and design. This is indispensable in order to integrate social, cultural and environmental aspects and, in particular, values and ethics.
– Environmental rules and principles should be incorporated in obligatory codes of conduct for representatives of public authorities, diplomats and businesses.
– It is crucial to stress the positive relationship between environmental ethics and the notions of peace, poverty alleviation, and equity in society.
– Environmentally ethical behaviour implies individual responsibility that leads to action. Lifestyle patterns should become disengaged from over-consumerism. Waste-free production cycles and new strategies for energy production and consumption and for the protection of non-renewable natural resources are essential.
– To avoid further degradation and catastrophe, the concept of defence has to be restructured on the basis of environmental ethics and with a long-term vision of international co-operation in environmental protection.
Investing in environmental education: a genuine profit for society
– The concept of profit needs to be redefined to include the dimensions of quality of life, preservation of natural resources and biodiversity, better health and education, elements which constitute a “genuine” profit for humanity.
– Governments and international, regional and national financial institutions as well as the productive sector should be encouraged to mobilise additional resources and increase investments in education and public awareness.
– An independent fund for environmental education needs to be considered. This fund would encourage contributions from the public at large, from business and from governments. It would give high visibility to these issues.
– Investment is a crucial means for capitalising on the full force of education. Environmental education can shape the profit-seeking sector positively.
Reorientation of formal and non-formal education towards sustainability
– There is need to reorient education towards lifelong learning. As promoted by the I.U.B.E., an interdisciplinary environmental education which guarantees environmental literacy for every citizen on the planet is a priority.
– Non-formal education is as important as formal education. There is a need to capture the widespread attention of the general public and actively involve the local administration (municipal authorities, etc.) in environmental awareness and training.
– Environmental education in vocational training is indispensable not only for the transfer of new skills but also for the enhancement of employment opportunities.
– Environmental education is needed in business and economics, policy and decision-making, science and technology, and in the fields of legislation and jurisdiction.
– A two-way link between teachers and scholars/students, needs to be created. Learners should be given the opportunity to acquire new knowledge and skills through concrete projects and to develop their own ideas and problem-solving initiative.
– Participatory environmental education can act as a catalyst for participatory democracy.
Proposals for implementation
– Revision and expansion of the existing Bio-Syllabus and development of new curriculum materials for all educational levels as well as audio-visual materials on environmental issues.
– New economic models and incentives (tax cuts, etc.) promoting investments in Cleaner Production strategies.
– A Green Salary instead of unemployment benefits, in order for the unemployed to get involved in environmental projects (tree-planting, recycling, city cleanup, etc.).
– A clearing-house to provide through the use of computer link-ups a network of people wishing to co-operate in environmental education. An electronic Bank of Ideas to be available on the Internetcan promote a world-wide interdisciplinary exchange of information and encourage environmental appreciation.
– Volunteer environmental action groups to tackle local issues. The participation of youth and senior citizens is particularly valuable.
– Environmental Olympics and Bios Prizes to award individuals or institutions that have contributed to the preservation and better understanding of the environment.
– A World Referendum for people throughout the world express their willingness to preserve the environment and the continuity of life on our planet.
– Environmental education can enhance the development of an International Court of the Environment under the auspices of the Permanent Court of Arbitration.
Workshop themes and participants
Expanding the vision of bio-environmental education Dr. Agni Vlavianos-Arvanitis, B.I.O. President and Founder, Greece
The shift of a paradigm: From “environmental education” to “bio-education” Professor Alfred Rest, Senior Academic Counsellor, Institute for International Public Law and Comparative Public Law, University of Cologne, Germany
New trends in education for energy and the environment Professor Nicholas Hatziargyriou, Energy Systems National Technical University of Athens, Greece
Environmental problems as a cultural challenge Vassilis Dikaioulakos, Scientific Associate Energy Center of the Peloponnese, Greece
Social and cultural environmental education Professor Sofia Dascalopoulos, Head, Department of Social Anthropology, Dean, School of Social Sciences, University of the Aegean, Greece
The importance of pluriculturalism in environmental education Professor Nicolas Vernicos, University of the Aegean, Greece
Environmental education curriculum development Professor Constantina Skanavi, Alternate Professor of Environmental Education and Communications, Environmental Department, University of the Aegean, Greece
Regional curriculum development John Stylianakis, Regional Director for Environmental Education, Crete, Greece
International co-operation in curriculum development Professor Hunay Evliya, Director of Environmental Studies, Cukurova University, Adana, Turkey
Environmental ethics – a matter pending in European curricula Professor Marta Salona-Bordas, Department of Zoology, Universidad del Pais Vasco, Spain
Environmental education as moral education: relation between natural and social nature Professor Michael Opielka, Director, Institute of Social Ecology, Germany