Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Public Environmental Education

There are several ways to increase environmental awareness and education in our communities. These ways include environmental rights (responsibilities and consequences), media usage, awareness campaigns, teaching environmental issues in the classroom, increasing awareness in target groups and the encouragement of public participation. Many sectors of society are involved in developing and delivering educational courses and campaigns. Theses include national, regional and local government bodies, domestic and international organizations, school systems, media and even celebrities.

The Media can be a powerful ally when trying to educate the public. In today's society, our primary source of information comes from computers, televisions or other electronic devices. If we can get these organizations to work alongside the media, they can educate those delivering the news through briefings. They can then inform the public about the situation. Other countries have had success utilizing the media to publicize environmental conferences and and public awareness campaigns. Information centers available to the public can also help to educate journalists with basic environmental information on a specific topic. These information centers should have recently published information like press releases, have a public library with many environmental sources and contain information on actively debated issues.

Community leaders have a very influential role in the community. The education of these community leaders can help organizations implement environmental procedures. When putting together a campaign for a specific area one must take into consideration several things. The campaign must be in the local language, it must be in a form that appeals to the people (posters, radio, TV) and it must contain a clear message in plain language so the general population can understand it.

Other approaches used to increase awareness include sustainable environmental education, information centers, environmental raffles and environmental holidays. Environmental raffles can be used to educate the public while raising funds for the organizations.

To summarize, public environmental awareness and education can be increased by the following actions:

- Generating public awareness and environmental education, particularly among targeted groups, about relevant laws and regulations and about their rights, interests, duties and responsibilities, as well as about the social, environmental and economic consequences of non-compliance
- Promoting responsible action in the community through the media by involving key public players (government officials)
- Organizing campaigns for fostering environmental awareness among communities, non-governmental organizations, the private sector and industrial and trade associations
- Inclusion of awareness and environmental educational programmes in schools and other educational establishments as part of education
- Organizing campaigns for increasing environmental awareness and environmental educational programs
- Organizing campaigns for encouraging public involvement in monitoring of compliance.

The United Nations Environment Program

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