Conservation and Sustainable Use of the Biosphere - WBGU

Conservation and Sustainable Use of the Biosphere - WBGU

324 I Global biosphere policy

International agreements will in the light of the

global importance of biological diversity continue to

play a crucial role in the conservation and sustainable

use of biological resources. But the Council calls also

for the world not to regard global competitive

processes as a danger to the preservation of the biosphere.

Especially in an age where national power of

enforcement is being devalued, private self-regulating

regimes are becoming important. The Council

will therefore in a subsequent report take a more

detailed position on ways in which such self-regulating

mechanisms can be used to promote sustainability

in the context of market-economy systems.

I 2.5

Environmental education and environmental


I 2.5.1


The conservation and sustainable use of the biosphere

and its resources is a difficult task for environmental

policy and makes it necessary to deploy all

available policy instruments intelligently. These

instruments include environmental education that is

oriented to bringing about long-term changes in attitudes

and behaviour. Deployed at all levels of formal

and non-formal education, environmental education

must provide socialization contexts and learning

strategies in order to reflect in a new way the relationship

of humankind to its natural resource bases

and develop new patterns of action. It must not just

focus on the acquisition of knowledge relevant to the

environment, but also incorporate all relevant perception,

experience and behavioural modalities relevant

to the people-environment relationship.

Beyond this narrow framework of school-based

and non-school-based primary education, training

and further training, however, it is also about achieving

new, sustainable lifestyles for all groups in society

in their various professional contexts and life situations

and thus it is all about (life-long) ‘learning’.

These processes, which since the 1980s have been

termed ‘environmental learning’, take place in an

‘experimenting society’ (Fietkau, 1984) in which

through information, communication and participation,

but also targeted intervention, new forms of living

and consuming can be tried out that ultimately

guarantee a sustainable and future-viable society of

which the sound use of the biosphere is an important

element. A concrete approach to environmental

learning at town/municipal level will be presented

using the example of promoting the decision to buy

organic products (I 2.5.5). This goal of sustainable

development has gained ever greater weight since

the Rio Conference in 1992.The Commission on Sustainable

Development (CSD) also points out the

need for a comprehensive programme of sustainable

environmental education. They emphasize the

importance of awareness-raising in a non-school context

and the promotion of sustainable lifestyles. Since

sustainable development is however far more extensive

than ‘just’ environmentally friendly development,

since it must incorporate economic and sociocultural

development too, strictly speaking the terms

‘environmental education’ and ‘environmental learning’

have become too narrow and should be replaced

by ‘education’ or ‘learning for sustainable development’.

If the Council continues to use the old terms

in this section it is not just because they are more

familiar to most readers but also because for the

issue of protecting the biosphere many learning

processes on ecological contexts are still necessary in

order even to be able to link these to the economic

and socio-cultural conditions of social development.

Over the last few years experts have been engaged

in a lively discussion on the status and re-direction of

environmental education within the education system

(eg de Haan et al, 1997; Trommer and Noack,

1997; Beyer, 1998), also in response to stimulus from

the German Council of Environmental Advisors

(SRU, eg 1994) and WBGU (eg 1994, 1996). The

Council welcomes the fact that the current version of

the orientation framework of the Bund-Länder

Commission already adopted (BLK, 1998) on ‘Education

for sustainable development’ creates the

necessary framework for the implementation of educational

practices that must now be fulfilled by all of

the constituent states (Länder) of Germany. In these

guidelines, however, a certain neglect of the social

dimension of sustainability in particular cannot be

overlooked. Issues such as international development

policy must not be allowed to be left unconsidered

in the educational system and the necessary

interlocking of environmental and development

issues must be reflected in any educational practice

that follows the model of sustainable development.

In the evaluation study commissioned by the Federal

Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF)

on ‘Environmental education as innovation – assessments

and recommendations relating to model

experiments and research projects’ (de Haan et al,

1997), however, implementation weaknesses were

evident that still call for consistent endeavours on the

part of all players in the educational system. In particular

it may be noted that tuition on the environment

and nature has over the course of time increased in

scale (number of school hours) and is not just

restricted to the ‘natural’ or ‘exact’ sciences, but has

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