Ecological Education and Culture in ASEAN: An Overview
Environmental sustainability is one of the core dimensions of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and other international frameworks. About half of the Sustainable Development Goals are related to the environment or address the sustainability of natural resources. The Paris Agreement recognizes the need to promote environmental integrity as a means to addressing climate change. The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction aims to protect environmental assets by managing disaster risks. ASEAN itself has the ASEAN Strategic Plan on Environment (ASPEN), the Roadmap for ASEAN Community 2015 that stipulates a clean and green environment, and the ASEAN Environmental Education Action Plan (AEEAP).
The AUN’s Thematic Network on Ecological Education and Culture (AUN-EEC) was created to complement these policies and programs. Ecological education is an extended form of environmental education, which aims to develop a citizenry that can make wise choices regarding the impact of anthropological activities. This involves “examining and altering fundamental cultural beliefs and practices that are contributing to the degradation of the planet’s natural systems… [and] “connotes an emphasis on the inescapable embeddedness of human beings in natural settings and the responsibilities that arise from this relationship” (Smith and Williams, 1999). Ecological culture refers to the way human beings conduct themselves in the natural environment as a result of “knowledge, norms, stereotypes,” and recognizes the tension between the needs of society and the need for nature to preserve its systems and stability (Ridei et al., 2013).
By tapping into ASEAN’s established network of universities (link to map), the AUN-EEC is in a good position to develop a generation of Southeast Asians who will have the mindset and competencies to conserve and preserve the environment, even as they face the challenges of social change and economic growth, with the region’s mineral deposits, biodiversity, and mixed cultures.
- Translate our awareness and love of nature to environmentally responsible behavior
- Raise awareness on critical issues
- Develop curricula/modules/materials that can be used in ecological education
- Develop skill sets to find sustainable development solutions in our context and setting
- Undertake initiatives that encourage our communities to support a sustainable lifestyle
We hope that this thematic network can serve as a platform to help Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) incorporate formal and informal ecological education in the ASEAN. By working together, ASEAN HEIs could be catalysts in promoting a culture of sustainability among ASEAN stakeholders and contribute to the solution of ASEAN social and environmental problems.
Dr. Ma. Assunta C. Cuyegkeng
Director, Ateneo Institute of Sustainability
Professor, John Gokongwei School of Management