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Environmental education and awareness programmes

Effective implementation of coastal management and conservation programmes depends on the full support of local actors, which depends on a certain level of education, awareness raising and training in the relevant areas. Education and awareness raising have been identified in Agenda 21 as keay areas for working towards sustainable development. Once awareness is raised, the necessary values and attitudes, skills and behaviour can be developed.

Environmental education is a learning process that increases people’s knowledge and awareness about the environment and associated challenges, develops the necessary skills and expertise to address the challenges, fosters attitudes, motivations and commitments to make informed decisions and take responsible action (UNESCO, Tbilisi Declaration, 1978).

The components of environmental education are:

  1. Awareness and sensitivity to the environment and environmental challenges
  2. Knowledge and understanding of the environment and environmental challenges
  3. Attitudes of concern for the environment and motivation to improve or maintain environmental quality
  4. Skills to identify and help resolving environmental challenges

 


Example: Education Programme for Staff, Aurinkomatkat, a Finnish Outbound Tour Operator

To encourage and promote sustainable and environmentally sound tourism within its internal operations, Aurinkomatkat, a Finnish outbound tour operator has created an education programme for staff. The topics are the environmental, economic, cultural, social impacts of tourism, destination-specific issues, sustainability actions and recommended practices to combat the commercial sexual exploitation of children.

Benefits
Aurinkomatkat has seen a number of benefits of having its entire staff continuously trained and informed on sustainability issues.

Including:

  • Staff members are now taking their own initiatives to improve sustainability performance in the office and in destinations
  • The training sessions encourage participation and sharing ideas
  • There is increased information on sustainability for customers;
  • Aurinkomatkat has improved its relationship with partners by showing that it is concerned
  • There is a feeling of commitment among staff
  • The circulation of the newsletter enables staff to be informed of the progress that is being made and what difficulties are faced.

(Tour Operators Initiative)

Education and awareness programmes need to be addressed to both the professional sector and the general public and should inform them about the direct and indirect impacts of tourism, the causes and effects, the global and local issues, the immediate and long-term issues and good practices in the area. The private sector and especially tour operators could provide information more widely to their clients - the tourists - about sustainable tourism issues, encourage them to conserve, avoid negative impacts on biodiversity and cultural heritage to respect national legislation of the visited area as well as traditions of local communities.

Education and awareness-raising also is required at all levels of government. This should include processes for increasing mutual understanding between relevant ministries, including joint and innovative approaches for dealing with tourism and environmental issues. It is quite important to raise awareness within the academic sector responsible for training and research on issues regarding sustainable tourism.

Example: The contribution of Information Centres to sustainable tourism in protected areas (the case of Strymonikos Gulf)

The main role of the Centre consists in contributing to information and public awareness in matters of coastal zone functions and values. Using as examples the Strymonikos Gulf and the Gulf of Ierissos, whose coastal zone diversity is typical for Greece. It is the first IC in Greece dealing exclusively with matters associated with the coastal zone.


Strymonikos Info centre

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Example: Public Awareness Strategy, Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve (DDBR)

A variety of different groups of people have an interest in the Danube Delta or influence it in some way or other. The Public Awareness Strategy of the DDBR has been designed to support the conservation and sustainable management of the natural resources of the Danube Delta while improving socio-economic benefits for the local population. The financial sustainability of the DDBR, through the implementation of an integrated and clearly targeted plan for public awareness activities.


Information and visitors Centres in DDBR

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