Editor's Note

Chapter: Vol.4 No.1
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Environmental education is one of the most effective strategies for increasing general levels of public environmental awareness, developing skills for solving environmental problems, and maintaining and improving quality of life and the environment.

The word “Environmental Education” originates from the founding meeting of IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) in 19481. Initially its issue was focused on conservation and the balance in nature. Since then, the field of environmental education progressed to deal with concerns of times; in 1960s, pollution problems surfaced the relationship between environment and human health; in 1970s, the oil shock alarmed the earth’s limited resources; in 1980s ozone hole was discovered and environmental problems requiring a global conscientious were recognized.

In recent years, the notion of environmental education expands further. In 1997, Thessaloniki Declaration stated that “environmental education has also been dealt with as education for sustainability. This allows that it may also be referred to as education for environment and sustainability.” “The concept of sustainability encompasses not only environment but also poverty, population, health, food security, democracy, human rights and peace.”

Covering such wide range of issues, it can be said that environmental education consists of unity and harmony: people to people, people to society, people to nature, at all levels from local to global. It is not limited to conventional education in a classroom, but extends out to people of all ages at all places. It requires a long term perspective, comprehensive understanding, and a care for the future generations.

In recognition of the world’s growing interest in environmental education, in this issue of IRES a number of experts have been invited to introduce our readers to innovations in this field.

The first contribution, an essay from John Fien, Director of the Griffith University EcoCentre in Australia, addresses the education for a sustainable future in light of the upcoming United Nations International Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014) and discusses some of the achievements and lessons learned from the past decade of educational innovation in order to identify the critical issues and challenges facing education reform and possible ways forward. Next, Ryokichi Hirono, Professor Emeritus at Seikei University, looks at reorienting international development in order to accelerate poverty reduction and ensure sustainability as this century’s top development goals and, in
the process, reviews the current state of affairs in developing Asia-Pacific countries in terms of poverty and environmental deterioration, including an assessment of the progress made so far in dealing with these critical issues.

Mahesh Pradhan, Regional Environmental Affairs Officer at UNEP’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, outlines in his essay the role and contributions of the United Nations Environment Programme in promoting regional cooperation on environmental education and training at the global, regional, and sub-regional levels in the Asia-Pacific region.

Next, authors Daniella Tilbury, Wendy Goldstein, and Lisa Ryan, from the IUCN Commission on Education and Communication and Macquarie University, point to the increasing influence and responsibilities of NGOs in ensuring that international and national commitments are implemented and discuss the roles, contributions, and future opportunities for NGOs in the Asia-Pacific region towards environmental education for sustainable development.

Rob Gilbert, Associate Professor at James Cook University, in considering the potential of ecotourism as a form of education for sustainability, points to a gap between the aspirations of education for sustainability and the outcomes of current ecotourism programs, and outlines how ecotourism can be an important model for developing a sustainable approach to tourism development.

Kenjiro Hirayama, an IGES research fellow, looks at the growing trend in Japan of the corporate sector’s increasingly active role in environmental education and discusses some of the problems faced, along with some suggestions from the point of view of corporate environmental disclosure and empowering consumers to encourage change.

In their essay contribution, Keith Wheeler, Director of the Concord Consortium’s Center for a Sustainable Future, Jack Byrne, Project Director of the Center for a Sustainable Future, and Andrea Deri, IGES Capacity Building Project Manager examine a series of case studies where eLearning for education for sustainability (EFS) has been applied to a variety of audiences, and then they define a set of effective eLearning models. They point out that although the task of moving the focus of sustainability for learning to a global scale is daunting, by leveraging current knowledge networks around the globe, eLearning will play a significant role in creating this transformation. In the end, they write, we must make it easy for the end-user-the student-to have access to effective, high-impact, targeted knowledge that can be acquired on-demand and on-time across all cultures. If we can achieve the institutional cooperation necessary to deliver this form of education, then we have a chance to create the societal change necessary for sustainability to flourish.

In a Research Note, IGES visiting researcher Lisa Hiwasaki examines the challenges and potential for sustainable development tourism in Japan’s parks and protected areas and emphasizes the importance of local community consensus and participation for sustainable park tourism management, highlighting the opportunities for multi-stakeholder partnership that have been made possible by recent amendments to the National Parks Law. The paper ends with recommendations and the proposal that community-based nature tourism has a potentially critical role to play in facilitating effective integrated protected area management.

Current Development, Ebinezer R. Florano, researcher and lecturer at the University of the Philippines, offers a critical assessment of the theoretical “strengths” of the new ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution, which was initially created to prevent, monitor, and mitigate land and forest fires, and eventually, transboundary haze pollution in the Southeast Asian region, and finds it lacking in some critical areas of effectiveness. The author suggests various compliance and enforcement strategies or techniques to strengthen the ATHP and implementation-related laws and regulations at the regional, national, and sub-national levels.

Nachin Dashnyam, senior officer of Foreign Investment and Foreign Trade Agency of Mongolia, reviews a book, entitled, Mongolia Today: Science, Culture, Environment and Development, by D. Badarch.

Denise Hamu, chair of the IUCN Commission on Education and Communication, and Wendy Goldstein, head of the IUCN Environmental Education and Communication Programme offer their book review of Enabling Eco Action-A Handbook for Anyone Working with the Public on Conservation by Les Robinson and Andreas Glanznig.