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Online discussion on Environmental Awareness: Critical thinking for all

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As part of the January-March 2020 focus on Environmental awareness and protection, EPALE has organised a written discussion on how to contribute to Environmental awareness in the field of adult learning. The discussion took place on 18 March 2020 and was very well attended, with 273 comments posted.

6 non-stop hours of fruitful discussions on the UN Agenda 2030 and the related 17 Goals for Sustainable Development. The discussion also touched on how to empower the adult population to tackle climate change and global warming, how to make adult education organisations more sustainable and finally, how to build communities which are engaged on a local level but also internationally aware. It was a great chance to exchange best practices on environmental education and global citizenship.

The most discussed topics were:

  • the Sustainable Development Goals of Agenda 2030
  • Food consumption and waste
  • Environmental awareness and education
  • Daily actions and ecological footprint.

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals offered lots of inspiration to EPALE users who discussed at length how the Agenda 2030 represents a unique driving force and opportunity to strengthen the elements of strategic planning and to enhance coherence among economic, social, and environmental policies, both domestically and internationally. Several participants pointed out that the SDG goals need to become more engrained into daily choices, consumption and behaviours.

How could adult education address the SDG goals?

The debate raised the point that in ensuring a livable environment, adult educators are key to raising awareness and to setting up links among generations for reaching future goals. Adult education and andragogy can help raise awareness and personalise abstract problems since this type of responsible comprehension is vital.

It is possible to introduce the topics of SDGs and global learning into what adult educators are taught during their training, wherever that training may take place. It does not matter whether the training relates to teaching languages or digital or indeed any other skills. Everyone should act responsibly, be part of society and actively participate in this process.

Several comments mentioned the coming together of sustainability and solidarity. In particular, there has been a lot of interest into how the current Covid-19 situation challenges us to examine the sustainability of our daily actions. This current state of quarantine in response to the COVID-19 outbreak has reinforced a sense of belonging to the same global community, and also affirmed the need for planning and the taking of swift action to prevent disaster where possible.  The adult educator community feels a sense of responsibility to take action and to be part of the process by raising awareness through their trainings.

Several comments also highlighted the importance of nutrition as a key topic when talking about eradicating poverty (SDGs) and about sustainable practices in everyday life. Furthermore, food has become crucial in teaching different skills, whether they be linguistical or digital. The EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste has been recommended as a good way of supporting all actors in defining measures to prevent food waste and in sharing best practices and measuring progress over time.

Sports, arts, active citizenship and media offered several interesting insights into how to address the topics of sustainability and environmental protection

"There is an opportunity to enhance the value that transformative education offers in terms of critical thinking, social action, engagement, community development and empowerment, gender equality and living together" (Niamh O’Reilly AONTAS).

To learn more about the discussion please click HERE.

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