Education and Awareness
Communication and education are powerful processes for involving people … and should have equal standing with economic and legal instruments. The gap between policy and local initiatives is widely recognized. Strategic use of communication and education throughout the policy cycle is essential to bridge this gap. Communication plays an important role in bringing the voice of the people into the policy process and mobilizing society for action (Global Biodiversity Forum (GBF10) hosted by IUCN, Oct 1999).
NEFOS sees education and awareness as the key to providing people with the knowledge, awareness, attitudes and values to implement sustainable outcomes. However, education needs to be more broadly based than just providing information. NEFOS’ education and awareness programme is concerted promotion of information within a context of learning by those on the receiving end and usually is combined with relevant action. NEFOS believes that poor community participation is associated to environmental education problems not only ignorance but in that:
- There is poor awareness of existing information.
- Actions to conserve biodiversity are limited by lack of information.
- Many organisations are involved in environmental education, but activities are not coordinated and integrated in a way to ensure greatest effectiveness.
- An environmental education curriculum with resources materials and teacher training programmes is needed to ‘mainstream’ biodiversity concepts.
- Cultural practices and values need to be recognized in environmental education.
NEFOS’ education and awareness programme does not target ‘the public’ in its broadest and amorphous sense, but people in recognisable assemblies. The awareness programme has been purpose-built to match particular audiences or recipients, whether they be officers or councillors in local government, staff in government agencies, community groups, industry and producer sector groups, students in formal education, etc. General campaigns may encourage people to believe someone else will act, and because they are not the intended target, they are not challenged by the campaign’s objectives. In trying to reach everyone, general campaigns run the danger of affecting no one personally. Informing people that water quality is a concern is not as effective as telling people their local harbour or river has been closed for swimming and shellfish collection because of specific identifiable discharges. NEFOS conducts awareness programmes through organized workshops, school visits, video presentations, production of newsletters, leaflets, stickers, posters etc.
NEFOS’ incorporates humane education to inform the entire community about learning to respect life in our homes, communities and the environment. It encourages kindness and empathy for both human and nonhuman animals, and promotes understanding of our many diverse habitats. Most importantly, NEFOS strives to establish a sense of responsibility, making the world a better, more humane place.