Thursday, September 8, 2011

Relationship between Environmental Education and Social Justice - My Reflections

Upon reflection on the relationship between Environmental education and social justice, we’d see that the aim of Environmental education is to equip learners with knowledge and skills that will make them aware of their environment and its allied problems. Environmental problems have direct and sometimes indirect effects (positive or negative) on our daily lives, and in many cases, linked to derivations, discriminations and outright occurrences of violent conflicts!

In aiming to create a world population that is consciously aware of environmental issues, Environmental education strives to prevent, reduce, or where possible eliminate possible causes of social injustice in the society.

A society that is aware of the environmental consequences of industrialization on their lives for instance, will certainly make proactive efforts to ensure industrial growth and development plans are made with due consideration for possible environmental effects.

Apart from guiding people to be committed to taking proactive stances on issues, Environmental education, if properly implemented, will guide people to adopt Environmentally-friendly attitudes and values. By adopting a lifestyle that seeks to protect the environment, people will be indirectly protecting and promoting the rights of others to good environment.

Many conflicts across the globe are caused by environmental issues like resource control, environmental degradation and direct marginalization of indigenous people. Many forms of structural and direct physical violence are perpetuated as a result of these conflicts. With Environmental education, people will acquire the capacity to critically examine environmental issues and upon due reflection, seek for civil nonviolent methods of effecting transformation.

With a society that is consciously aware of their rights and responsibilities towards the environment, governments will also have to place top priority on environmental considerations when initiating and implementing various policies.

Environmental education strives at the equitable and sustainable usage of environmental resources the earth. Its efforts really help in ensuring social justice finds a place in the dictionary of world leaders.


  1. Ibrahim,

    In my opinion we can tell the mental, emotional and physical health of a country or its people by how they view/treat the environment. The earth is our survival and we often take for granted that no matter what we do, the earth will provide for us. But I've come to believe that this is not true. The earth has given us great abundance and it is our responsibility to use that abundance wisely. Right now, very few societies are doing that. I only hope that it is not too late and that everyone can wake up before it is too late.

    Without the health of the earth we will die. We are all interconnected. How to relate this to students is a challenge as many of our desires are in direct conflict with protecting the earth.

    I get a little carried away on this topic, so I will end here for now.



  2. Gwen,
    I quite agree with you, our lifestyles are in many cases directly in conflict with the requirements for a sustainable environment! It is a case of tightening the noose around our necks, and later crying out that we are choking!
    Recent research linking our environmental habits with global warming is a good example. We are slowly eroding the Ozone layer with the various emissions from our industries, and we when the effects (Drought, Flood, etc) come, we start looking for ‘ways out’!
    The biggest problem is getting the governments and multinational giants to balance financial gains against environmental needs.
    President Obama’s recent back pedaling on the issue of Environmental laws is a good example. While he earlier wanted to place a ceiling on the allowable emissions, political and economic pressures are now causing him to rescind the earlier statements.
    It is even better out there in the West; here in the developing countries like Nigeria, the public officials don’t care about the effects of the activities of industries on the environment. Once the multinational firms grease their palms, environmental assessment documents are mere formalities that are approved without anyone checking if their contents are true.
    We will continue raising awareness about the issue and teaching the kids about it, with time, it’ll become a more important issue in the society.

  3. Ibrahim,

    Many people here in the states are quite disappointed in President Obama's recent change of heart/mind. He seems to be a politician first and a concerned president second. In my opinion, the U.S. needs to take the lead in environmental protection policies, but sadly we do not.

    Yes, we do have laws that restrict pollution in our country but many companies have gone oversees and continue to pollute in those countries. There needs to be a world-wide agreement to protect the environment but I'm afraid we are a long way off from this.


  4. Gwen,
    The sad truth is that economic and political interests come first before environmental or humanitarian considerations.
    The financial powerhouses fund the politicians’ campaigns and the politicians design and implement their policies to suite their preferences.
    Another painful reality is that if the West puts in place laws to control pollution, they firms simply move to undeveloped nations ruled by corrupt, and inept leaders to produce their goods, and in turn b ring it back to the West!
    Maybe they have forgotten that pollution from any part of the world affects us all?
    A system like the policy in place for “Blood Diamonds” is needed for environmental pollution issues. If a country bans the production of a certain goods within its borders, it should also refuse permission to any company to bring in the finished product from such a polluting manufacturing process, even if it is from another country. This should also apply for Labour laws. If the West doesn’t accept Child-labour within its borders, it should also ban imports from countries that allow child-labour.


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This work by Ibrahim K. Oyekanmi ( is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.