The National Environmental Education Award is the most esteemed recognition of the grandest scale in the field of environmental education. On 28 June, winners of the Eighth National Environmental Education Awards were announced, which included the Pingtung Forest District Office under the Forest Bureau of the Council of Agriculture; Window on World Limited in the category of private enterprises; Stella Matutina Girls’High School; Tu-Shui Wang, Director of Luanshan Forest Culture Museum; the Society of Wilderness (SOW); and Cishan Sugar Factory Community Development Association in Cishan, Kaohsiung. All of them received the award from the EPA Minister Tzi-Chin Chang in person.
In his speech at the award ceremony, Minister Chang noted that the Award is like an Oscar in the field of environmental education before acknowledging the winners for their efforts and persistence with a “thumbs up” gesture. A wonderful living environment enjoyed by everyone today would not have been possible without the endeavors and selfless contributions of the nominees, who are the best of the best. They had to first pass a preliminary screening by county and city governments, then a second screening by the central government, to reach the final competition. Their accomplishments in environmental education are wonderful for all to learn from and model.
In recent years, the EPA has put tremendous efforts into environmental education and has held the National Environmental Education Award eight times. The purpose is not only to encourage all citizens to participate but also to award organizations and individuals for excellent performance in environmental education, with an award that is greatly recognized across the field. This year there were six nominees in the category of government agencies. Five of these have already been certified as environmental education facilities and venues whose focuses include frontline military culture on offshore islands, preservation of Hakka culture, disaster prevention and rescue, and natural resource management.
For the private sector category, nominees work in the field of children's education, underwater diving, agricultural technology, tourism, while one is a company that operates incinerators on behalf of others. They are all elites in their respective industries, using their skills to advocate for environmental causes. For instance, the linguistic expressions and limitless imagination of children are put to use in environmental education for children. Green tours are designed with economic development in mind by incorporating ideas of green energy, agriculture, and education and utilizing digital media and landscape models as tools, all helping reinforce knowledge of cultural preservation. There are corporations that turn NIMBY facilities into friendly service providers and divers that make innovations in conventional fishing to promote protection of the marine environment through eco-tourism.
The school category is centered around student learning, accompanied by teachers. Several schools helped guide students to establish a total of 47 school clubs that assisted students to explore their own actions and engage in self-learning. One nominee provided classes on campus energy, designing innovative teaching modules, sustainable campus maps, and specific action plans. Another nominee strove to nurture environmental and cultural awareness for indigenous children by developing creative teaching materials based on indigenous culture. The school even organized international environmental forums and lessons on culture and care for people to show the world the mindset concerning the environment innate in Taiwan's aboriginal cultures.
Those in the individual category include school teachers, organization founders, museum directors, and land conservationists, all of them displaying profound care for the environment and taking action in their respective fields. One nominee participates in environmental protection, having begun to learn all about environmental education, and one nominee has become a community leader in environmental education after years of protesting for environmental protection on the street. Another nominee spent up all savings to purchase mountain properties so that the dream of building a beautiful environment can come true. One nominee took on massive debts just to preserve the traditions of his own tribe and in the end successfully established an area in the mountains evocative of the movie, Avatar. Another nominee has promoted environmental education for years, never quitting despite accidents such as lightning strikes and teaching setbacks. Yet another has used expertise gained in natural environments to set up a team of eco-guides, design digital systems for eco-guides with video and audio clips, and produced programs on the National Radio Station in order to reach a wider audience. The selfless and persistent dedication of these nominees to environmental education are truly admirable.
Nominees in the group category have all spent years advocating for local environmental causes. They incorporated local resources, brought in young people to utilize their energy and networking strengths, and tackled environmental issues linked to everyone's living environment from the perspective of family and small acts of environmental protection in daily life. Their efforts have resulted in exciting illustration books, training courses, tours to offshore islands with tags of carbon footprints, an interactive system with digital technology and even a gaming and learning platform on environmental disaster prevention. The innovative promotion of environmental education uses social media, marketing, and creative ideas to enhance environmental protection awareness in adults and children. Another nominee is a group of people dedicated to wetland restoration, habitat preservation, and research of local species. They have set up environmental education bases across Taiwan and served as a bridge between humans and nature. They continue to nurture the next generation in habitat and wetland conservation and encourage more citizens to safeguard the environment together.
In Taiwan, communities consist of the immediate neighborhood of every person residing in them and therefore are usually the first organizations to take action in environmental protection and education. For instance, some ensure safe drinking water sources for residents by voluntarily developing environment-friendly, toxic-free agriculture and bee farms. One farming community has worked tirelessly to assist pig farmers in the reutilization of wastewater and manure, eventually leading to voluntarily setting up the first social enterprise in a rural village in Taiwan. Some communities have voluntarily developed environment-friendly agriculture and bee farms. Other communities have transformed their villages into fenceless communities and brought in economic profits by designing eco-tours featuring local resources and regionally marketing their environment-friendly, high-quality agricultural products.
With thanks to all winners for their efforts and contributions infused with full dedication to environmental education, the EPA urges all to do their part in encouraging and facilitating others to actively join in to build better living environments and a Taiwan sustainable both in terms of the economy and environmental protection.
Excerpt from Major Environmental Policies, July 2022
- Ministry of Environment