Environmental Education, the key to ODS. (ODS4) EN

Environmental Education, the key to ODS. (ODS4)


Juan de Dios Fernández

Ecologist, Dr. Biology, Adventurer and Communicator

Since the UN approved in 2015 the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, which included the 17Sustainable Development Goals, much progress has been made. And much remains to be achieved. In this article I would like to point out one of the key way to achieve these much-needed advances, Environmental Education.

We could start from the concept of Environmental Education, as part of the teaching material focus on teaching girls and boys how to change their habits to be more sustainable. In other words, teaching them to turn off the tap while they brush their teeth, to turn off the lights, to use paper on both sides or to put the containers in the yellow container. However, this awareness, although necessary, is insufficient. We are now in the last decade of achieving these Sustainable Development goals, and the key moment to stop climate change and biodiversity loss. And therefore, there is no time to wait for these children to grow up and become responsible and sustainable adults, adults who have lifestyles in line with the Sustainable Development Goals, especially goals 6, 7, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15 related to the environment and sustainability. We need more rapid changes in our society and how we relate to the environment around us. And I am convinced that Environmental Education is the key. But for this, we need a transformative and organized Environmental Education in three phases.


The first phase should be a transformative process from environmental education for students base on research and analysis. It consists of studying the environmental problems, understanding the processes and the relation between our daily acts and what happens in our near and distant environment. It is about giving them the power and the responsibility of choice, that they may choose how to change things and do it based on the reason for understanding in a scientific way, and based on the heart, for having felt the pleasure of discovering it and the effects, positive and negative, of their actions.

Then, once the foundations of what is happening are well established, we could enter the second phase of environmental education. Now we can talk about the changes we can make in our daily habits. Share with the children specific proposals for a call to action. It is very important that, within environmental education, this participatory process and the commitments acquired by the youth should come from them. Let us avoid that it should been seen as a boring imposition by adults, the same adults who have destroyed the planet and now demand that they change their habits to avoid environmental deterioration. Let them be the ones to take a step forward and place themselves on the side with the solution to the problems. As a consequence of the process of awareness acquired in the first phase.

Summer Camp 2016. Madrid-Benimaclet Youth Centers. IIBach

Finally, education must go further, it must make the youth generate changes in the world around them, this is the third phase. It is an opportunity to stimulate children's capacity to influence society and to be active in achieving the changes we need; A learning that can be provided by Environmental Education and that will help to create a critical, active and mobilized citizenship. This is not only related to the environmentally Sustainable Development Goal, but to everyone as a whole. The opportunity offers by Environmental Education to create citizens who are aware of the world around us and the implications of our own for ecosystems and other societies is a key to end world hunger, poverty, inequalities, loss of biodiversity ... and all the wonderful goals that are intended to achieve with the Sustainable Development Goal.

This is certainly a slow and not easy process. Nevertheless, it is the most effective way to make environmental education really the process that leads our society to the change we need. The way to make sure the Sustainable Development Goal are met within the timeframe that our planet and humanity needs.

Juan de Dios Fernandez

Ecologist, Adventurer and Disseminator

PhD in Biology (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)

Expert in NGO Management (ESADE).

(Translator: Gideon Kometa)

Summer Camp 2016. Madrid-Benimaclet Yoth Centers.