Undoubtedly, environmental consciousness has increased tangibly lately, as new, Mother Nature-friendly policies by states got under many people’s skin – naturally or with some lashing by the whip. Yet the real change will come when good and proper treatment of nature will be encoded, literally, into the genes of young generations. What needs to be done to boost environmental education, especially for the youth, in the Baltics first of all, to get the message on the urgency out?
“High profile issues, like plastic pollution and oil pollution, both being very visible, are brought to the attention of young people through influencers, social media and activists. However, lower profile ones which people have more control over also add up to be of significant impact,” says Shana Gavron, CEO of Endangered Wildlife OU, a ground-breaking Tech4Good Estonian fintech company specialising in the valuation of biodiversity.
“For example, the impact of shower length, gaming time and video calls, should all be part of environmental education. Do you know how much CO2 is released by being on a video call for an hour? This is where the education should occur, which is not currently sufficiently addressed because teachers are not being educated in environmental assessment,” says Shana Gavron.
In her words, it is Finland that has a more holistic approach in environmental education.
Endangered Wildlife has recently created a Personal Environmental Footprint Calculator app at a very low cost, which demonstrates numerically and with a heatmap exactly where young people are having an individual positive or negative impact in different categories of the environment.
“Sometimes the results can be quite surprising!” says Shana, adding she trusts the good judgement of the youth on all causes of nature.
Janis Matulis, Chairman of the Board of Latvijas Zaļā kustība (Latvian Green Movement), says that some simple catchy things, like public clean-ups, competitions and different game modules in social media can work the magic in jacking up the traction of environmental education, especially for young people.
“Telling and teaching about the hottest environmental problems around, starting from climate, globally and locally, talking about the Baltic Sea pollution can contribute to the cause significantly,” he said.
Latvijas Zaļā kustība has engaged young Latvians in two international projects, like Coast Watch, involving research of the Latvian Baltic coast, and Clean Games that mixes actual nature clean-ups with elements of competition.
“Then we have produced a Spatial Planning Game for students – ‘If I were a Decision Maker’. We arrange regular clean ups along the coast and also pine tree plantings in some areas of the dunes,” Matulis said.
Do you wonder where Latvia is a step forward and where it lags on environmental issues among its closest neighbours?