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12.1 Environmental education and training

210. The Assistant Executive Director introduced the subprogramme on education and training by describing how the joint UNESCO-UNEP International Environmental Education Programme (IEEP), among other things, would embark upon a revision of the teaching materials issued during the past 13 years, the development of prototype curricula in environmental education and the decentralization of some training activities. Governments would be encouraged and assisted to produce national strategies for environmental education arid training for the 1990s. UNEP would revise its long-established course in post-graduate environmental management at Dresden and expand this service to key groups from Governments of developing countries by seeking additional training fellowships and starting a new long-term training course elsewhere. Efforts to train employers and industrial managers in environmental management would continue through co-operation with ILO. A new thrust would provide environmental education for journalists. The Assistant Executive Director also noted that a trust fund had been established by States in the Latin American and the Caribbean region to support UNEP's Environmental Training Network. He expressed the hope that other regions would do likewise.

211. All representatives who spoke expressed full support for UNEP's work in the field of education and training, stressing its importance for the future. There was general support, too, for the close collaboration between UNESCO and UNEP in the field of environmental education.

212. One representative expressed the hope that the new training project for environmental managers and engineers from the Asia/Pacific region being carried out jointly by Finland, the USSR, UN1DO and UNEP would serve as a model for such training in other regions.

213. One representative called for UNEP's support in the training of health professionals in work-related diseases and hazards.

214. One representative called for more training programmes for journalists similar to the training course for communicators from the countries of the Southern African Development Co-ordination Conference (SADCC) supported by Finland.

215. One representative stressed the need to raise the level of funding for environmental education. Links between the UNESCO and UNEP regional offices that had been developed in the Latin American region should also be strengthened in other regions.

216. The observer for UNESCO called upon Governments to develop national strategies for environmental education and training for the 1990s based on the Moscow Strategy produced by UNESCO and UNEP in 1987. He expressed his organization's appreciation for UNEP's co-operation in environmental education. Announcing that UNESCO's General Conference would be asked to consider a significant increase in UNESCO's contribution for the next biennium, he also expressed the hope that UNEP would raise the current level of funding for this programme and that the two bodies would strengthen their co-operation in environmental education and training. UNESCO welcomed the expansion of long-term post-graduate training in environmental management.217. The observer for ILO noted with satisfaction the close collaboration his organization enjoyed with UNEP in training aimed at employers' organizations and stressed the need for continued collaboration between ILO, UNEP and UNESCO in such activities.

218. The Assistant Executive Director stated that environmental education and training were extremely important fields and that UNEP was pleased with its present collaboration with UNESCO. Although they had initially encountered difficulties in implementing their joint education programme, it was now well established and received support from Governments world-wide. In respect of environmental training, the Assistant Executive Director said that through the forum of the Designated officials for Environmental 14atters (DOEM), activities were now better co-ordinated to train as many specialists as possible in various environmental fields.

12.2 Public Information

219. In his introductory remarks, the Assistant Executive Director noted that the reassessment and restructuring of the responsibilities, functions, strategies and human resources of UNEP's public information arm had continued along the lines of earlier Governing Council decisions. Evolving communication technologies and the growing world-wide concern about environmental matters had been key elements in this reassessment and restructuring. He added that UNEP would give greater emphasis to the needs of the groups it wished to reach, adapting materials to local requirements, and encouraging influential mass and special-interest media to devote more space and time to environmental issues. The regional offices, co-operating with institutions in developing countries, would launch specific information campaigns to raise environmental awareness at the grassroots level. He noted further that in public information activities concerning the environment, there should be better co-ordination and communication with the rest of the United Nations system, with the regions, and with Governments.

220. A number of representatives stressed the importance of increasing public environmental awareness. one expressed the hope that the reorganization of the Information and Public Affairs Branch would significantly enhance environmental awareness, suggesting that greater use be made of national committees to spread environmental information.

221. One representative said there was a need to distinguish between passive and active public awareness; passive awareness came after a problem occurred, While active awareness led to understanding what was going to happen. He noted that little had been done to increase active environmental awareness, possibly because the issues were complicated, and he proposed that more consideration be given to ways to heighten such awareness.

222. One representative said an informed public would urge and press decision-makers to take appropriate steps. This view was echoed by another representative, who observed that individuals' awareness and attitudes were essential to acceptance of legislators' proposal.


223. Yet another representative noted with appreciation the attention given by UNEP to public awareness, noting that its lack was a serious handicap in the conservation of natural resources, particularly in his country. He added that scarcity of financial and technical resources imposed serious constraints on reaching such important audiences as school children, farmers, women, and outreach groups and he stressed the need for more environmental training of journalists in developing countries.

224. Another representative proposed that projects be established at the national and international levels to increase public awareness.

225. The observer for UNESCO said his organization would continue to strengthen public information activities within its environmental programme.

226. The representative of the secretariat noted that the Executive Director had approved a reorganization and that each programme unit of UNEP would now be serviced by a designated focal point in the Information and Public Affairs Branch who would ensure that its information activities were properly planned and co-ordinated. The Branch would be responsible for setting standards and for carrying out information and public affairs policy with greater efficiency and economy and a higher output, so promoting a stronger image of UNEP.