1 June 1993

Doc. 6852



on an action programme for further environmental

education through teacher training

presented by Mrs RYYÄNEN and others

1.       Europe has created a way of life based on scientific and technological progress, a way of life that is largely considered a model for future development. The disintegration of the Soviet Union and the east European countries' adoption of a market economy furnish clear examples of the magnetism of European culture. At the same time, however, that culture is running up against its ecological limits: Europe's ecosystem no longer tolerates Europeans. The time has come for Europe to take responsibility for the creation of economic practices, models for living and infrastructure founded on an understanding of what ecological stewardship requires.

2.       Environmental and development education which aims at both a reverence for nature's diversity and the promotion of sustainable development is necessary. The concept of environmental and development education was created in the course of preparations for the Rio conference, to depict the interplay between the concept of development and the state of the environment. Europe, proud of its enlightened tradition, must find a way of answering the challenge.

3.       The Assembly is unanimous on the importance of improving environmental education. It is nevertheless difficult to find European schools, to say nothing of European countries, in which environmental education is being properly implemented. Prevailing concepts of learning and knowledge, coupled with school systems which emphasise focused learning and examinations, do not create the basic prerequisites for the implementation of good environmental education. Even when these general prerequisites do exist a further obstacle is often encountered in that the teachers do not possess adequate professional skills. Throughout Europe, basic training for teachers is a particularly significant restricting factor.

4.       So far as the environmental component of basic teacher education is concerned, it is essential that Europe summon its developmental resources immediately. The environmental-education development programme "Intressekonflikter i bruk av naturresurser" (Conflicts of interest in the use of natural resources), created at the initiative of the Nordic Council of Ministers, provides some ingredients for this developmental work, as does "Diversity within Unity", a European Community research programme on teacher training. The Nordic programme emphasises the value conflicts intrinsic to environmental issues and encourages the recognition of local environmental problems. It calls for instruction in the skills of persuasion to help alleviate those problems. The European Community programme stresses the connections between natural environments, modes of culture and economic life, and the state of the environment. The programme challenges us to recognise the cultural factors which lie behind environmental problems. It challenges us to cherish culturally valuable ways of life and create alternative development models based on ecological understanding.

5.       The Assembly therefore recommends that the Committee of Ministers take appropriate measures to strengthen environmental education in the member states, in order to improve teacher-training programmes (courses, study-weeks, modules) for the purpose of environmental education, which shall endeavour:

—       to strengthen the perception of Europe as a natural and cultural environment on whose well-being the future depends;

—       to foster a sensitive and experiential relationship with nature and local culture, based on the "Europe of Regions" environmental-education perspective;

—       to increase "environmental literacy", that is, the ability to recognise environmental problems and the quality of the cultural environment;

—       to inculcate skills on preserving biodiversity;

—       to encourage the consideration, in educational settings, of value conflicts related to the use of natural resources, and to strengthen active citizenship;

—       to teach students to understand the historical and cultural mechanisms governing the interaction between people and the natural environment;

—       to motivate students to assess and improve their own lifestyles, as well as modes of production, systems of distribution etc., so as to reduce strains on the environment;

—       to utilise teacher-training methods to stimulate discussion and work in the cause of a Europe which is more democratic, environmentally healthier, and more culturally diverse.

      Signed:       Ryynänen, Fischer, Maass, Dromberg, Tiuri, Halonen, Rehn, Särkijärvi, Anttila, Hacklin, Granstedt, Lockwood, Berg, Persson, Havik