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IUCN Commission on Education and Communication

Although the IUCN publication Planning Education to Care for the Earth refers to some experiences of local NGOs, it mostly describes regional and national environmental education programs. In this sense, it complements the Reviving Links book produced by Both ENDS, which has a community focus./GJM

The IUCN Commission on Education and Communication (CEC) is one of six specialist commissions which operate within the framework of IUCN – the World Conservation Union. CEC is a volunteer network of specialists in environmental education and communication who are working for governments, NGOs, academic institutions and the private sector. They have expertise in learning processes, changing behavior and practices, linking grassroots needs to international policies, and other fields. CEC has developed regional networks in Latin America, Asia (SASEANEE), Europe (ECEE), North Ameica and eastern Africa, and national networks in Ecuador, France, Kenya, Spain, and Uganda.

By promoting the use of education and communication, CEC hopes to encourage the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity as a basis for development. CEC’s capacity building work has included a three month course in environmental communication and education in Asia, training for government planners and trainers on biodiversity issues in Kenya, and development of curriculum tools for biodiversity education in Kenyan Teacher Colleges. CEC’s other activities include (1) providing assistance in policy, guidelines, and program development and implementation; (2) conducting analyses of project experiences to extract lessons which have been learned as a basis for advancing policy and practice; (3) and facilitating the development of partnerships between institutions and colleagues.

The Commission produces a wide range of publications. For example, Planning Education to Care for the Earth (Palmer. J., W. Goldstein and A. Curnow, editors, 1995) presents case studies in environmental communication and education from NGOs and governments. Other recent titles are Reunión Sobre Gestión de Programas Nacionales de Educación y Comunicación para el Ambiente y el Desarollo en América Latina (Puyol, A., 1995) and Education and Communication for Biodiversity: Key Concepts, Strategies and Case Studies in Europe (Elcome, D., 1996).

‘The consumption of firewood is a major cause of the destruction of the vegetation in Mauritania, a country almost entirely covered by the Sahara. The energy crisis is acute and the price of fuel wood in relation to the standard of living is excessively high. Charcoal is sometimes delivered by truck over 1,000km, and profit margins may amount to 20 to 35 percent of the retail price.

The felling of trees for agriculture and for energy requirements corresponded to more than 60,000 equivalent hectares of natural wood units in 1990. Almost 70 percent of domestic energy needs were supplied by wood or charcoal according to a 1987 estimate and Nouakchott, the capital, accounted for more than 47 percent of total energy consumption.It was hardly realistic ... to expect the population suddenly to abandon a fuel used from time immemorial, so efforts had to be made to improve the use of wood and the quantities necessary for various residential and craft production needs.'

Thiaw, I. 1995. A matter of motivation. Pages 84-86 in Palmer, J., W. Goldstein and A. Curnow, editors, 1995, Planning Education to Care for the Earth. Gland and Cambridge, IUCN.


  • Wendy Goldstein, Environmental Education and Communication Programme, IUCN World Headquarters, Rue Mauverney 28, CH-1196 Gland, Switzerland; Tel. +41.22.9990282 or 9990283, Fax +41.22.9990025, e-mail wjg@hq.iucn.org


“POLIS“ International Network in Environmental Education

Experience files, such as the one about the Marguerite group in Algeria that we present in the following excerpt from Dialogues for Environmental Education, are an effective way of getting the word out on what does and doesn’t work in environmental education. /GJM

Since its establishment in 1994, the International Network in Environmental Education (INEE) has built up a membership of over 250 individuals and organizations from some 60 countries. It was created thanks to support from the Swiss organization, Foundation Charles-Leopold Mayer for the Progress of Humanity (FPH). The Network’s main function is to gather information on people’s experiences in environmental education, including research, teaching methods, materials and activities, and to share this information more widely. Its overall goal is to promote the work of people and organizations active in this field, and to encourage international collaboration. The Network publishes a bulletin, Dialogues for Environmental Education, for the exchange of views, methods and news in this field. This is published in three languages (English, French and Greek) and is distributed free of charge.

INEE is in turn a member of a larger network, Dialogues for the Progress of Humanity, a federation of nine international networks created in 1987 with support from FPH. These networks share information through a common database and series of publications. The database consists of experience files, short articles describing concrete experiences, projects, research and reports. A compendium of 30 of these files was published by FPH in 1995. They are accessible by Internet on the Web server of the Alliance for a Responsible and United World (http://www.echo.org). A directory of NGOs active in environmental education is being added to this site.

‘At first, the idea of the group was to work on our concerns about the absence in our society of public spirit and responsibility, both on the individual and the collective bases, with regard to environmental problems. The Marguerite group decided to launch information campaigns and specific actions on the subject ...After a few weeks of work and consultation with professionals in different fields, we organized an Environmental Education Open Doors Day to which we invited professionals in ecology, education and environmental conservation, and students’ parents ... We decided that an interesting approach would be to analyze environment as a consequence of neglect, unconsciousness and a never-ending race for productivity and growth. The further we took our research, the more we observed environmental problems as deriving from three factors: ignorance, indifference and economic interest.So we are determined to reduce the ignorance and indifference of individuals, and hope to be able to [do so]. You learn to respect and preserve your environment by knowing it better.’

Gharbi, A. 1996. Marguerite Group: an environmental education project. Dialogues for Environmental Education 4:2.


  • Yolanda Ziaka, Coordinator, “POLIS” - International Network in Environmental Education (INEE), 3rd Septembriou 11, 10432 Athens, Greece; Tel. +30.1.5224469, Fax +30.1.5233419, e-mail yziaka@aurora.eexi.gr
The average person must hear something three times before it crosses the threshold of perception and enters into memory.



In a world where information is increasingly bought and sold, the development of Share-Net is a refreshing alternative approach of free flow of information through electronic media, and producing in-house publications at low cost. The network is staffed by a multi-cultural group of young people in KwaZulu/Natal who are producing products that are appropriate not only in South Africa, but in other parts of the world as well. /ABC

Share-Net is an informal network of individuals and organizations in southern Africa, collaborating to produce environmental education resource materials. Among its resource materials are environmental fact sheets, which cover a wide range of topics from sustainable development to rhinoceroses, and field guides for finding out about the plants, animals and ecosystems of South Africa. The Action Series of booklets offer a more practical perspective, for example, how to grow incema grass (widely used in basketry and weaving) and muthi (medicinal) plants. For teachers, there are booklets on environmental education, offering advice and suggestions for projects and activities. Other resources include Enviro Picture Building, a series of games which present environmental issues and stimulate participants to come up with possible solutions. Share-Net’s resources can be freely copied for educational purposes, and redevelopment for local use is encouraged. Many are available both in hard copy and on computer diskette.

‘Medicinal plants in eastern South Africa come from regions with different climates. The best area to grow a particular medicinal plant is in a climate similar to where it would naturally occur. If you live close to the sea where it is warm, with no winter frosts and plentiful rain, you will be able to grow all the plants shown in the coastal region. If you live in the mountains with very cold winters and where frost is common, then you can grow the plants listed in the uplands region. If you live somewhere in-between, where it is generally warm with little frost, then you will be able to grow the plants indicated in the midlands region. Ask your local experts to identify medicinal plants that may be suited to your home.’

Mander, M., J. Mander, N. Crouch, S. McKean and G.Nichols. 1995. Catchment Action: Growing and Knowing Muthi Plants. Howick, Share-Net.



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