Understanding where we are going
There are three basic scenarios of future development for post-communist countries in Central and Eastern Europe. The options can be labeled as:
- Environmental and economic "colony status"
- Consumer-oriented market economy
- Sustainable eco-social economy
Each of the above options has a group who advocate. Discussions are easily used and misused by both the leading coalition and the opposition for political aims as they attempt to transform environmental and social issues into political ones. There are already signs of the conflict between the conservative free market development model and those seeking alternatives. "Our main enemy is not primitive communism but dreams about a 'third way'. We lived in a society without a market economy and we want a market as a basic co-ordinating principle. However, we cannot accept its unpremeditated softening - words about environmental and social market economy lead not to citizens with environmental and social responsibility, but to doubts about the irreplaceability of the market in human society," said the leader of the economic transformation and Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, V‡clav Klaus, in his speech at the Budapest meeting of the European Democratic Union in September 1993.
The first scenario is preferred by foreign investors and multinational corporations, because it includes softer environmental legislation and cheaper resources and labour. The second one is preferred by the majority of the society, who hunger for luxury goods and services, as well as by the leading political and economic groups. The third scenario is preferred by a minority of the society who value the environment, health, and nature and those who are used to thinking in a systematic way and with a long-term perspective.
From a realistic point of view, the first scenario is not very probable and is catastrophic in the short-term perspective. The second one is the most probable and catastrophic from a long-term perspective. The third one is preferable, but not very probable. As discussed in the previous paragraph, this view is not shared by the majority of people and therefore the urgent task of environmental education is to explain the limits, probability, sustainability, advantages, and disadvantages of each of these options.
The basic requirements for improving the understanding of environmental issues in Central and Eastern Europe
- introducing environmental education into basic legislative documents dealing with public education and environmental policy
- formulating a legislative status for non-profit organisations
Human resources development
- provide training for educators specialised in environmental education
- creating conditions for the personal development of NGOs, in areas such as public relations and management skills training
- continue state support for National Centres for Environmental Education.
- clarify of responsibilities between the Ministries of Education and Ministries of Environment.
- create and implement an environmental education strategy within the framework of the environmental policy of different sectors, including different ministries, local and regional authorities, school administrations, nature protection administration, and NGOs.
- institute broader environmental education in the formal education system.
- create personal, financial and spatial conditions for environmental education centres work.
- creating tools for self-financing of environmental education organisations and facilities.
- ensuring committed support from the state budgets.
Philosophy and methodology of environmental education
- prepare constant analyses of necessary changes in the content and form of education, consistent with the changing situation in the environment and society.
- promote diversity and complexity in teaching styles, forms, approaches, and methods.
- teach a systematic, holistic approach to environmental, social, and economic issues.
- teach the adoption of a long-term perspective, prioritising and strategic thinking.
- promote understanding of limits, costs and risk related to the environment.
- teach about the future and the alternatives
REC * PUBLICATIONS * PAPER SERIES * UNDERSTANDING ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES