A New Perspective on Environmental Education: “Education for Sustainable Development”

Environmental education is a field in which environmental degradation caused by the industrial revolution is addressed and solutions are found. It is seen that environmental education has come to the agenda as an indispensable tool of environmental protection since the 1970s, when ways were tried to be found. Especially in the “International Conference on the Environment” held in Tbilisi in 1977, environmental education was defined as “a subject and practice of education directed towards the solution of practical environmental problems with an interdisciplinary approach and by ensuring the effective and responsible participation of each individual and society” (Özoğlu, 1993).

The primary goals and functions of environmental education differ according to the approaches adopted. In this context, it is seen that approaches to environmental education have entered the literature as “environmental education”, “ecological pedagogy (ökopadaegogik)”, “ecological learning (ökologischen lernen)”, “nature experience (naturerfahrung)” and “education for sustainable development (Nachhaltige Umweltbildung)” (Grasel, 2002).

In this context, with the adoption of the “sustainable development” model in economic development and environmental protection approaches since the 1990s, the meaning of environmental education has expanded and evolved into “Education for Sustainable Development”.

Pillars of Environmental Education

Undoubtedly, it is inevitable that the principles that will guide environmental education will differ according to various environmental education approaches. In addition, the principles that constitute the starting point of environmental education also differ according to the method to be followed and the implementation processes. From this point of view, the basic pillars of environmental education are “ecological portability”, “economic portability” and “social justice”, which are essential for the sustainability of life on earth.

Ecological Portability (Environmental Justice): Environmental education towards the realization of sustainable living should focus on the protection of natural diversity, securing the foundations of life such as soil, water, air and vegetation.

Economic Portability (Forward-looking Development): The reliance of economic activities on natural resources requires that development activities be limited according to the carrying capacity and sustainability of the ecosystem for the sustainability of life.

Social justice (intra-national, international, intergenerational justice): Social justice, which forms the ethical basis of education for sustainable development, is seen to be broadly based on the idea that all people and peoples, present and future, have the same rights to the use of the earth’s resources and to prosperity.