World Environmental Education Day is held annually on January 26.

The African Coalition of Communities Responsive for Climate Change has urged the governments to roll out massive education programmes aimed at making grassroots communities in various villages involved in conservation efforts.

In a statement released ahead of World Environmental Education Day today, the Executive Advisory at the ACCRCC said as things stand, conservation programmes are mostly driven from the top down.

“This approach may not yield the results expected even with the good intentions exhibited by His Excellence the President.”

World Environmental Education Day is celebrated on 26 January. Its main goal is to identify environmental issues both globally and locally and to raise awareness about the need for participation to conserve and protect the environment, mitigating the various levels of the impact caused by climate change.

Founded on the Belgrade Charter, the fundamental demands of environmental education are to develop a world population that is aware of, and concerned about, the environment and its associated problems, and which has the knowledge, skills, attitudes, motivations and commitment to work individually and collectively towards solutions of current problems and the prevention of new ones.

Dr Pamela Nkirote, a member of the executive advisory at the ACCRCC however said, there is a general decline in community environmental education in Kenya despite what groups like the ACCRCC and others do. “But these efforts are not coordinated,” she said adding that conservation and environmental cleaning appear to end with the State functions marking the same. 

“This should not be so, particularly when it is being driven from the grassroots. The local people must be educated that environmental matters begin and rest with them,” she said.

As such, Dr Nkirote said there is a benefit in roping in grassroots women, men, and the youth in tree planting exercises as ultimately, the communities are the final beneficiaries of planting and growing trees.

“I urge our people not to perceive tree planting exercises as government programmes. Our forefathers nurtured and grew with and within nature. We need to revisit when we surrendered the care for nature to the government,” she said. 

That is why, through Sustainability for all, ACCRCC wants to take advantage of World Environmental Education Day as an opportunity to promote knowledge about some of the most serious environmental problems facing our planet and the various strategies that can help us tackle them. 

According to Dr Nkirote, it is vital, for example, grassroots communities understand what renewable energies are and how they can help take care of the planet, and that water is a natural, limited and scarce resource that is essential to life on Earth.

The World Environment Education Day event established the principles of environmental education within the framework of United Nations programmes. 

She said environmental education at the grassroots would be key, particularly at this critical moment when the world is faced with the climate change crisis.

“It is important that people in the villages wherever they understand the causes and effects of climate change realise that sustainable development is the way to meet people's current needs without compromising the capacity of future generations and take stock of the fact that protecting the environment means ensuring our own survival,” she said. 

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