Poverty reduction and quality of life are two issues central to Live & Learn's environmental education approaches. Even though quality of life means different things to different people in different contexts, all human beings have a hierarchy of needs they seek to fulfill. At the most basic level this includes regular access to safe drinking water, nutritious food and access to basic sanitation. Some argue that for impoverished communities, the generation of income (either monetary or in kind) is the only way they can truly meet their needs and if this should lead to environmental degradation then so be it, since the choice at the margin is worse.
Across the world communities and government departments allow unsustainable logging and fishing practices to take place in full knowledge of the devastating consequences. In many cases long-term needs and sustainability are considered secondary to immediate income generation.
Live & Learn believes that education and learning must offer practical examples of how communities can produce income and meet continuing needs and also build environmental assets. It requires a versatile environmental education design, driven by existing structures, assets and good will - set within a context of new ethics and practice.
Traditional knowledge may lack the capacity to deal with current problems but it is the starting point for the construction of new knowledge. This new knowledge should be passed on through an action-based learning process, or learning by doing. Transformative education is needed: education that helps bring about the fundamental changes demanded by the challenges of sustainable development. This change must, however, be driven by local communities. There is no quick fix. It is a long-term vision that requires sustained facilitation and support.
Based on this, the overall objectives of the Live & Learn Strategic Vision 2020 are:
- Facilitate links and networking to enhance community mobilisation and action and maximise development benefits at community level, particularly in relation to economic opportunity and sustainable livelihoods options.
- Provide an integrated, educational approach promoting the transition to sustainable development, while maintaining a strong focus on community realities and priorities.
- Foster increased quality and innovation of teaching and learning in formal and community education.
- Provide government and intergovernmental organisations with practical support and tools for implementing national and international strategies.
Environmental education alone is unlikely to inculcate all the values needed to sustain the environment – if that was the case, we would already be much further down the road towards sustainable development. However, environmental education is the central pillar of strategies to promote such values. Alongside positive spiritual and political motivation, education is our best chance of promoting and instilling the values and practices that sustainable development requires.
For more information please download our Strategic Vision 2020