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Asia-Pacific Environmental Education Experts Promote Sustainability in Online Workshop

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To respond to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and build environmental education cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region, the EPA and the Global Environmental Education Partnership Asia-Pacific Regional Center (GEEP APRC) co-organized the 2021 “Let’s Learn from Each Other for a Sustainable World” Workshop on 3-4 September. The Covid-19 pandemic did not deter regional partners from continuing to promote environmental education. Speakers from the Philippines, Vietnam, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, Bhutan and Taiwan showed up at the event or online to share their local experiences with audiences all over the world.  

This workshop was the first international exchange event after GEEP APRC was established in December 2019. The EPA stated that the goal of this international workshop was to facilitate and strengthen environmental education cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region and to expand the influence of the UN SDGs through environmental education. It is hoped that through the international platform of GEEP APRC, countries in the Asia-Pacific region can learn from each other about environmental issues and share with each other their experience and knowledge in environmental education.

Judy Braus, the Executive Director of North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE), the GEEP Secretariat, was invited to give the opening speech at the event. She explained the core values and goals of GEEP and expected partners all over the world to create a fairer and more sustainable future through environmental education. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the implementation of the Environmental Education Act in Taiwan. Therefore, the workshop kicked off with a video titled “Let’s Make ‘Being Green’ Part of Our Daily Lives,” showcasing Taiwan’s environmental education achievements. Afterwards, Professor Chiau Wen-Yan, a former deputy minister of the EPA, gave the keynote speech on “The Promotion and Strategies of environmental education in Taiwan”.       

Diverse contents were presented during the two-day workshop with four major themes: regulations and policy communication, community environmental education, environmental education teaching materials, and environmental education staff training. Domestic experts, scholars and practitioners in the field of environmental education were invited to share case studies on various topics so that the world could see Taiwan’s excellent experiences in environmental education.

International speakers, mainly members of the APRC advisory team, were invited to speak to domestic and global audiences online. The Philippines and Taiwan are among the few countries in the world that have adopted legislation to promote environmental education. Elenida Del Rosario-Basug, Director of the Philippines’ Department of Environment and Natural Resources, shared the implementation experiences of her country’s National Environmental Awareness and Education Act. Nguyễn Việt Dũn, Director General at Vietnam’s Ministry of Natural Resource and Environment, and Kumi Tashiro, Deputy Director at Japan’s Ministry of Environment, focused on cases in their countries that involved environmental policy communication. Professor Fuangarun Preededilok from Chulalongkorn University in Thailand shared cases of promoting community environmental education. On the second day, Thiaga Nadeson, Chief of WWF-Malaysia, and Ugyen Tshomo from the National Environment Commission of Bhutan shared with workshop participants environmental education teaching materials.   

The finale of the workshop was the course on environmental education staff training led by Deputy Director Kumi Tashiro and Kato Tatsuhiro, Secretary General of the Japan Environmental Education Forum. They demonstrated facilitation techniques remotely online based on the content in the tool book “Creating a Co-learning Environment – Learning 10 Facilitation Skills from Environmental Education”, and led participants in communication with each other. Together they accomplished a rare international cooperative teaching demonstration to enhance the practical abilities of environmental educators.

In the pursuit of economic development, the Asia-Pacific region has caused much environmental pollution in the air, water, waste, and soil, and at the same time it is suffering from environmental threats from global climate change. Facing the ever-changing external environment, it urgently needs to learn to co-exist with the environment through environmental education and the concept of sustainability. In the future, APRC will continue to be a hub for promoting environmental education in the region and will seek more international participation. By inspiring people through education and turning knowledge into actions, the region can change as a whole and make the world more sustainable.  

Excerpt from Major Environmental Policies, October 2021

Ministry of Environment