Ministers confirm the importance of education to achieve biodiversity targets
“Awareness is not enough to trigger action. We need education. This starts with schools.” The French Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, Mrs Delphine Batho, put it clearly. Education is a key driver to achieve the Aichi Targets for Biodiversity, a set of 20 targets for the global 2011-2020 Strategic Biodiversity Plan – a framework for action by all countries and stakeholders to save biodiversity and enhance its benefits for people. Of particular relevance to education is Target 1 which states that “By 2020, at the latest, people are aware of the values of biodiversity and the steps they can take to conserve and use it sustainably.”
“And it is not just about educating the children” said Mrs Jayanthi Natarajan, Minister of Environment and Forests of India. She was speaking at a side event where the recommendations from the International Conference on Biodiversity Conservation and Education for Sustainable Development (13-14 October) were presented during the Biodiversity COP 11 in Hyderabad, India. Mrs Batho further stressed that: “A second lever we can use is local city authorities, which can help with a number of drivers related to biodiversity change and loss. Finally the third lever is civil society, which reflects and helps with citizens’ engagement.”
Mr. Braulio Ferreira de Souza, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, argued that “we should pay more attention to positive ideas: we have problems but also solutions, and these come from children, local communities, etc… We need to motivate society: initiatives may be small but collectively we can make a difference.”
These statements echoed the call of the conference participants for biodiversity education and learning projects to be relevant to today’s realities. Some 280 teachers, researchers, young people, ministry officials and representatives of international organisations and NGOs, participating in the Conference, stressed the importance of taking into account a variety of approaches, connecting the global to the local, inviting action, inspiring people, involving society, and looking at education as a tool to produce concrete solutions for biodiversity-related problems.