Promoting Regional Cooperation on Environmental Education and Training in the Asia-Pacific: The Role and Contributions of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

In International Review for Environmental Strategies (IRES) Volume 4 Number 1 (2003)
Peer-reviewed Article

Environmental education is rooted in the belief that humans can live compatibly with nature and act equitably towards each other. Reorienting education as a whole towards sustainability involves the various levels of formal, non-formal, and informal education at all levels of society. At the global level, UNEP, in collaboration with UNESCO, was instrumental in the development of the International Environmental Education Programme (IEEP). At the regional level, UNEP’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (ROAP) established a programme in 1993 to enhance the region’s capacity to manage the environment in a sound and sustainable manner. This initiative, called the Network for Environmental Training at Tertiary Level in Asia and the Pacific (NETTLAP), evolved into a major contribution to helping achieve both national and regional goals of sustainable development. It explicitly recognised that tertiary institutions, such as universities, technical and training institutes, and teacher training colleges, play a major role in building capacity for sustainable development. Over the late 1990s and early 2000s, environmental education efforts at ROAP evolved to focus on the formulation, adoption, and implementation of sub-regional environmental education action plans and strategies, as well as national partnerships for their implementation. Over the past decade, there have been significant contributions to environmental education at the regional and sub-regional levels in the Asia-Pacific region; however, there are still considerable challenges in making environmental education more effective in the region and reorienting it towards sustainable development. The upcoming UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, from 2005 to 2014, provides an excellent opportunity to further consolidate and intensify environmental education and training efforts at the national, sub-regional, and regional levels in the Asia-Pacific region.

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Mahesh Pradhan