Caity Miller was one of our virtual interns in January 2021 and one of her assignments was to write a blog on a subscribed topic. Read about her view on why environmental education is now more important than ever.
The United Nations has declared this decade, running from 2021 through 2030, the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. This is also the deadline for the Sustainable Development Goals, and the timeline that many scientists have noted as society’s last chance to counteract serious implications of climate change. This proclamation of the decade did not come lightly but was established after a proposal for action by over 70 countries around the world.
The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration is a call for the protection and restoration, or revival, of ecosystems in all areas of the world to not only benefit nature but us humans too. The UN carefully outlines a plan that details 10 actions to take to restore our planet. One of the action steps that stood out to me the most is “build up the next generation”, which the UN describes as making a direct link between the wellbeing of today’s youth and the goals of restoration. Educating youth on restoration will turn today’s youth into advocates for ecosystems, and provide the skills for sustainable jobs that will ensure that the UN Decade’s achievements far outlive its 10-year timeline. I see this step as one of the most crucial points of action because of the importance of environmental education.
3.2 billion people are affected by land
degradation. It impacts the food they produce
and the water they drink. We need to heal our
ecosystems to heal ourselves – it’s time for
everyone to join #GenerationRestoration
Environmental education has always been an important part of a child’s education, despite it not being implemented in all schools around the world, which is true now more than ever! Children need the motivation for change. They need to be exposed to nature and learn to love the world around them and exposing them to environmental education does this. By encouraging children to love and appreciate the natural world around them, they can develop the motivation needed to make change in a world that may often feel pitted against them. It is crucial for our teachers to encourage action in our children and empower them so they know that they are the generation that can make a change. This empowerment will be amplified because of children’s appreciation for nature. When children are exposed to the outdoors, like playing in rock poolsor observing animals in their habitats, it can inspire them to want change to protect the things they love. Children, while young, are powerful and have the potential to restore our planet.
Nature holds the key to 1/3 of the climate
solution. We need ecosystem restoration
to stay below 2°C global temperature
rise. We need to grow trees and they
need to be the right trees, at the right
place and the right time.
There are still adults who hold the belief that climate change is not real or not anthropogenically caused. The education portion of the UN’s strategy should be inclusive to all ages, not just children, but this causes issues. Most adults are not currently in school and therefore it would be much more difficult to influence these people without that direct avenue of schools. The solution to this issue is at the tip of our fingertips: technology. Environmental education is not confined to the four walls of a school building, but it is all around us. It is the responsibility and duty of informed and educated humans to use our resources to spread the word about the UN’s global movement. If each person who was passionate about this issue influenced their circle to take action and then those people influenced others, we would have a whole world of people ready to restore the planet.
The UN’s proclamation that this is the decade of restoration is a calling on all of us. It’s our responsibility to encourage environmental education- formally in classrooms around the world, but also informally in all aspects of our lives.
Visit the UN’s Decade on Restoration website to find out how you can get involved, what resources are available and the strategies outlined to make a positive impact.
Claudine van Zyl completed her Work Imtegrated Learning (WIL) internship with us last year. Her research project was: ‘The characterisation of plastics in stranded post-hatchling loggerhead turtles along the South African coastline from 2015 to 2020’.
Bob, a green turtle in our care, has been with us since November 2014. While he is not ready for release yet, we are preparing him so that he has the best chance of survival back in the big blue. Alex Panagiotou, one of our turtle team specialists, is working with Bob through enrichment programmes and research.
Grant Blakeway completed the 2020 Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge by solo rowing 4 800 km across the Atlantic. He did this to highlight the issue of plastic pollution in the ocean.