Nektarina (S)paace NOVEMBER 2012 ISSN 1847-6694 ISSN 1847-6694
The Baltic November Dear Friends,
We hope you enjoyed our first two issues of Nektarina (S)pace! You can find the links on our website www.education4sustainability.com and also on our Issuu account (link: http://issuu.com/nektarinapublishing/docs/ nektarina_space_newsletter_september_2012
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This third issue brings you Positive Practices from Estonia and the schoolsâ€™ section gives us an insight on the International Day of Tolerance and shares some Sustainable transport options.
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Nektarina (S)pace Web Publication issued monthly by Nektarina Non Profit Issue # 3 November 2012
Published by Nektarina Non Profit
Contributors: Elena Livia Minca Yula Pannadopoulos Nikos Sorrensen
All photographs by Sandra Antonovic
In this issue Dear Schools, bringing you
International Day for Tolerance Mobile and Green Sustainable transportation good examples
Positive practices: Estonia
Mobile and green We live in an increasingly connected world, both physically and digitally. When it comes to mobility, we want to have as many options as possible. However, this has come at a price, as the transport-related CO2 emissions represent today 23% of overall CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion, growing by 45% from 1990 to 2007. The sector also accounts for approximately 15% of overall greenhouse gas emissions. Fortunately, a range of choices with a lower impact on the environment are now available to us.
Sustainable transportation options Below we summarize the main environmentally friendly transport alternatives and their advantages: Public transport (metro, light rail, trams, trolleys, buses, etc): Public transport reduces congestion, as people leave their individual cars at home. It also saves on fuel, because less fuel will be consumed per capita than in the case of private cars. In addition, it saves people money, by reducing the maintenance cost of their cars and also the amount of fuel consumed. Finally, it reduces the carbon footprint of individuals, especially if it is rail-based. Thus, electricity is used instead of fuel and electricity can be produced from renewable sources. Walking and bicycles / bike sharing: If the distance to be covered is not long, walking is a pleasant and healthy alternative â€“ it makes no sense to take the car for only a few blocks. Going by bike also has three excellent benefits â€“ it is friendly with the environment because no carbon emissions are involved; it is healthy because it keeps people fit; and it is cheaper than most other options because no fuel is needed. And of course, it is a lot of fun. If you do not own a bicycle bike-sharing centres are a good solution. For a small fee, or even for free in some places, you can rent a bike and pedal away!
Green cars: Electric or hybrid cars are becoming increasingly available. They are called green cars because their burden on the environment is lighter than that of regular cars. They consume less fossil fuel since they use partly electricity, they emit less exhaust gases and they make less noise. It is even claimed that their maintenance is easier, since not much is moving under the hood, so fewer things can go wrong. Car sharing: Car sharing means short-term use of a car that is shared among a group of people. It is commonly coordinated by a company that cares for the car and manages issues like insurance and parking, but it can also be arranged among individuals. One of its major benefits is that it saves money (no monthly payments, gasoline, insurance, etc). Moreover, car sharing takes more cars off the road, reduces traffic congestion and the need for more parking infrastructure or road expansions. It also decreases air pollution and fossil fuel dependency.
Improvements: Of course there are many other related actions that can be taken to improve the effectiveness of the abovementioned green transportation options. For instance, clean fuels,
transport vehicles, thus reducing even more their environmental impact. Also, a dedicated infrastructure, like bicycle lanes or special bus lanes can help make the traffic more fluid and enjoyable for the public, who will then prefer it to the crowded car roads. Furthermore, restrictions, incentives and taxes can be operated to benefit green transport. A few examples can be: restricting the traffic in central areas of cities to avoid congestion and promote public transport; low insurance rates at the purchase of a green vehicle; or taxes on conventional fossil fuels or on parking in some areas.
Seamless mobility – Covering all transport needs with one solution Seamless or combined mobility is a concept where public transport providers work together with supplementary transport providers to offer a solution that covers all transport needs with one product. Supplementary services can be car-sharing, taxi, delivery services, bicycle rental, etc. All transport modes can be used with one card. This concept has been used by the private company ‘Mobility Mixx’ in the Netherlands. The idea was to offer a comprehensive and convenient system of alternative travel means which would eliminate the need for employees to use their private car at work. Mobility Mixx combines several modes of transport (taxi, cycle, train, busses, trams, car sharing, car leasing and car rental). The target group is companies’ employees who can book and administer their business travel within the Netherlands with Mobility Mixx. The service is door to door. A Mobility Mixx customer logs himself into his account via the Internet. Here, he can get travel advice for the complete journey, including the time it takes to travel and whether he can walk or rather cycle to the bus stop or train station. The journey can be booked directly and the document can be sent to the employee’s manager for approval. The employee as well as his manager always has an online overview over the travels undertaken – as well as the travel costs. All the customer needs to log into the website and to pay for the booked modes of transport is his Mobility Mixx card as identification.
Good Practice Examples Mobility Mixx is therefore an integrated service that covers all travel needs. It also has the advantage that travel can be offered more cheaply due to specially negotiated rates with the partner transport companies. Moreover, the Mobility Mixx service can also be integrated with the Green Plan scheme, i.e. it is possible to account for the CO2 emissions caused by the customerâ€™s travel. Mobility Mixx has now around 10.000 registered customers.
Alternative bicycle -based transport â€“ Velotaxi Velotaxi is a taxi service based on bicycle use combined with a battery-driven electric motor. One velotaxi can carry two passengers. The Velotaxi GmbH was founded in 1997 in Berlin with 30 velotaxis. Today there are Velotaxis in 35 major cities in the world. Berlin is Velotaxi city number one, with 80 such vehicles in service. Here, the taxis run on set routes that cover the entire city centre. Velotaxi is a seasonal taxi service, usually running from around March to October. Apart from daily taxi operations, velotaxis can also be used as a means of transport at special events, to transport visitors between public transport stations and the venue or between different areas of a larger venue. Furthermore, velotaxis are well suited for use for city sightseeing. The velotaxis are set up as independent businesses in the several cities. One means of financial support for the business is the sales of advertising space on the velotaxi outer shell. 18
“Go bus” in Copenhagen, Denmark In several schools in Copenhagen, “go buses” are the means of travel for students from home to school. The concept originates in the UK and is mostly used for the youngest students. Groups of students who have a similar route to school go to school together, accompanied by a parent who guides the group to school safely. The parents rotate in taking the duty before and after school. The benefits of the scheme are that parents do not have to take the car individually for school runs but know that their child gets to school safely by foot. Walking to school is also healthier for children than being driven in the car. The children also learn how to behave in traffic at an early age and are therefore better prepared to act in traffic when at an older age they start walking to school on their own. As school runs in cars are reduced, the area around the school becomes less congested and safer for children to arrive. Air pollution and noise are reduced as well.
Chocolate Lake Nova Scotia Canada
A close-up on tolerance Celebrating the International Day for Tolerance on 16 November Following on the United Nations Year for Tolerance, 1995, in 1996 the UN General Assembly invited UN Member States to observe the International Day for Tolerance on 16 November to generate public awareness of the dangers of intolerance with activities directed towards both educational establishments and the wider public. The International Day for Tolerance is a time to learn about respecting and recognizing the rights and beliefs of others. It is also a time of reflection and debate on the negative effects of intolerance. Live discussions take place across the world on this day, focusing on how various forms of injustice, oppression, racism and discrimination have a negative impact on society. Many educators use the theme of this day to help students understand issues centered on tolerance, human rights and non-violence. Other activities include essays, dialogues and story-telling of peopleâ€™s personal accounts of intolerance and how it affects their lives. Human rights activists also use this day as an opportunity to speak out on human rights laws, especially regarding banning hate crimes and discrimination against minorities. 22
According to UNESCO’s “Declaration of Principles on Tolerance” tolerance means respect, acceptance and appreciation of the rich diversity of our world's cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human. It is fostered by knowledge, openness, communication, and freedom of thought, conscience and belief. Moreover, tolerance should not be seen as concession or indulgence; it is, above all, an active attitude prompted by recognition of the universal human rights and fundamental freedoms of others. The Declaration also underlines that in the modern world, tolerance is more essential than ever before, as this is an age marked by globalization and rapidly increasing mobility, communication, integration and interdependence. Since every part of the world is characterized by diversity, escalating intolerance and strife can occur in every region, not confined to any country. Therefore tolerance is necessary at all levels, from individuals and family to community. Furthermore, education is seen as the most effective means of preventing intolerance. The first step in tolerance education is to teach students what their shared rights and freedoms are, and, at the same time, to promote the will to protect those of others. The teaching methods should address the cultural, social, economic, political and religious sources of intolerance – major roots of violence and exclusion. Do you think people are more tolerant nowadays than they were in the past? What do you think are the causes for this? Have you witnessed any episode where the tolerance principles were crossed? What did you do about it? Discuss with your classmates and teachers and send us your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org 23
Tolerant: what to, exactly? The link between tolerance and sustainability When we say we are tolerant we generally mean that we accept and respect different points of view, different cultures or opinions. In other words, we consider being tolerant in relation to other people and we regard tolerance as an attribute pertaining mostly to the human sphere. However, if we try to expand a little the notion, we can also explore a distinct type of tolerant behavior, the one towards the environment we live in and the sustainability of our actions. As much as this topic may seem out-there or exaggerated, it is still worth investigating because it can offer a good perspective on the relations between society and the environment. So, are we tolerant towards nature/sustainability? If we look at the definition given to tolerance in the Declaration of Principles and apply it to the issue at hand, then being tolerant towards the environment should mean respect, acceptance and appreciation of the rich diversity of our environment. Unfortunately we can find numerous examples where we, as humans, have failed to respect our environment and showed our appreciation only by taking it for granted. Too many times we have seen it just as a provider of our daily resources and not as a home where all beings have equal rights in sharing those resources. And is this attitude tolerant? Is it sustainable? Not really, not if we want our descendants to enjoy the same diversity of our planet. 24
By trying to be more tolerant, meaning understanding and appreciating the enormous benefits that the environment is providing us every day, we are one step closer to become more sustainable. This way, we will learn to respect it and only employ means that will prove favourable for both people and nature in the long run. And actually, this is what sustainability is about.
Moreover, on a very different angle this time, tolerance is also a key ingredient to achieving conflict resolution, peace and stability. And all of these create a perfect ground for us to start thinking about the issues that matter, like living sustainably, fighting poverty, promoting equity or improving the quality of life.
Do you think people should be more tolerant towards the environment? Do you think they can be? How? Find some examples where man has been disrespectful to nature and show how tolerance might have helped resolving the problem. Discuss them with your fellow classmates and send us your insights at email@example.com
Questions of the day Asking questions is in the very nature of human beings. They help us stay focused, they provide knowledge and they satisfy our curiosity. But most importantly they make us aware. This month we decided to have a special section where we do more than presenting answers, we will also be raising a few questions that we hope will enhance your understanding as well as motivate your interest in finding out more. 28
Is education enough to become more sustainable?
Education is a very important step in our formation as humans. Especially early education can and should provide the values and principles that are going to guide the lives of the future adults. But is education all that is needed? Nowadays we are more aware and we know many more things about the world we live in than previous generations. But we have to be fair and admit that many of us, although we have learnt about sustainability issues and the consequences of our choices, still indulge sometimes in just doing the easiest or the most convenient thing. It is not that we don’t know, but several other factors influence our decisions (for example the feeling that our action is not going to solve anything because nobody else will do it). On the other hand, education must not be reduced to dry statements that only tell us what we should or should not do because it is “good” or “bad” for the world. In fact, education should focus on presenting facts, cultivating values and developing abilities to think critically, research and discover for oneself which actions will influence the environment in a positive or negative way. Whether we like it or not, we live now in a more globalized world than ever, where actions in one place can influence the course of things in another place. Still, for education to succeed in making people more aware about sustainability issues it is not enough to start in only one place, but multiple efforts from every country should be started. 29
Are we fighting the positive change?
Looking back at what we discussed earlier about our tolerance towards nature and sustainability, the question that comes to mind is: “Are we only not tolerant or do we actually fight the positive change?” By positive change we understand a change that is beneficial for the environment, people and sustainability in general. Several examples can be easily pinned down, such as renewable energy, recycling or becoming a vegetarian.
If these options are proved to help the environment and are already available for us to choose, how come we still prefer the old, more unfriendly ones? Some people are not aware at all of these possibilities or they don’t know if they are available in their particular locations. This is why information should be spread out through all means and especially through education. Others do know about the existence of the new green alternatives, but cannot find the right incentives to make the change. After all, changing habits is one of the most difficult things to do. So people just get stuck behind the idea “if no one else is going to change, why should I?”. Then the old egocentric feature kicks in: “what’s in it for me, what do I get for changing my ways?” So this finally highlights the problem: do we truly not see the benefits of this change or do we just not care and try to find excuses? 30
Do we care only when it directly affects us? It has become quite easy nowadays to give examples of situations where common resources have been depleted by their users because they only considered their own wellbeing and did not think about the other users. To name just one, the continuously shrinking Aral Sea unfortunately illustrates this very well. From soil, forest or pasture to water bodies people have used the resources without much consideration for their sustainability. The damage is even larger where the resource extends beyond the borders of just one country, such as in the case of rivers or lakes. For example pollution of major rivers is likely to affect the environment not only in the location where it has occurred, but downstream as well. People have even come up with a name for such cases, calling them a “tragedy of the commons”. This is because no one actually feels responsible for the resource as long as it is common and no one cares what will happen to it in the future. However, when the resource becomes unavailable, people regret not having taken any action to prevent it, but it is too late. Some argue that turning common, public resources to private can be of help, as it would make people more accountable for their actions. But how can we be sure that the new owner will not be attracted only by fast and easy profit? Especially in the case of “global” resources, such as the oceans and their wildlife, privatization seems very difficult. So how come we are not able to foresee the tragedy and act responsibly from the beginning? Does it necessarily have to hurt us before we do something? Or are we confident that someone else will find a solution when the time comes? 31
How far are we willing to go? Over the centuries people have used natural resources to improve their livelihoods and many of the consequences of this exploit have failed to show up from the beginning. Now we are faced with many problems (pollution, water scarcity, loss of biodiversity, etc) that are threatening not only the environment we live in, but also our capacity to sustain activities and develop. Among these many problems climate change is the most recently proved and one with severe global implications. Despite the inherent debate over its very existence and the role played by humans as opposed to the natural variability, there is now a general consensus among scientists that the challenge is real; in fact it is already happening and human actions are indeed responsible for its extent. Of course people have also tried to come up with solutions to the problems they created. With more technological advances than ever, geo-engineering, or the adoption of projects that tackle climate change directly, for instance by removing CO2 from the atmosphere, has appeared more prominently in the discussions. A regular example is the adding of iron compounds into the ocean waters to enhance the population of algae, a known consumer of CO2. However, the potential unknown consequences are still a major cause of concern. As it previously happened with many discoveries that were considered breakthroughs and chief benefits for the society, their side effects turned out to be more dangerous than the problem they were intended to solve (like for instance the DDT chemical, which was successfully used to kill pests and ended up killing the wildlife as well in the process). 32
The ones in favour of geo-engineering argue that the technology is likely to buy us some time to figure out all the other important actions we should take. In many cases, like the melting of ice caps and implicitly, the threat to polar bears, time is running out already and this might be the only solution. But provided we do adopt some geo-engineering solutions, a question still remains regarding what would happen if some external factors would hinder or stop their application. Would this not create larger disruptions in the system and make us dependent on such solutions? So how big a risk are we willing to take? How confident are we that we can interfere and fix everything and, moreover, that we have the right to? There are many measures that we could take to cut down the carbon emissions, including low-cost ones, such as tree planting or renewable energy. We already know what needs to be done but, since it is politically difficult to handle, or unprofitable for companies, we just donâ€™t do it and continue to claim solutions that will impact less on our current lifestyles.
Sources: http://www.un.org/en/events/toleranceday/ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Day_for_Tolerance http://www.un.org/en/events/toleranceday/pdf/tolerance.pdf http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/un/international-day-tolerance http://www.internationaltransportforum.org/Pub/pdf/10GHGTrends.pdf http://www.apta.com/mediacenter/ptbenefits/Pages/default.aspx http://goalforthegreen.com/2011/04/advantages-and-disadvantages-of-electriccars/ http://auto.howstuffworks.com/fuel-efficiency/fuel-economy/car-share4.htm http://www.scp-knowledge.eu/sites/default/files/knowledge/attachments/GRIP% 202005%20transport%20Best%20Practice.pdf 33
Education for Sustainable Development in Estonia In the middle of the significant developments in education policy that Estonia faced recently, Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) has been an important topic present in the educational debate and has received its well-deserved attention from Estonian policy-makers. In the Estonian case, not only the Ministry of Education and Research is responsible for implementing sustainable development ideas in education, but it is strongly supported by the Ministry of Environment. In 2005 a Memorandum of Cooperation was signed between the two ministries. This document established the development of environmental education as a priority for Estonia. The role of the Ministry of Environment has been to develop the infrastructure for practical environmental education activities for more than 10 years now. Examples of the means that help put ESD into practice include the Estonian Museum of Natural History, the Environmental Information Centre, the State Forest Management Centre with its nation-wide network of nature centres and study programmes developed based on the national curriculum, etc. A great number of ESD-related activities and programmes are developed and coordinated by the Environmental Board that falls within the area of governance of the Ministry of Environment. One of the goals of this Board is to foster a sense of responsibility in Estonians, particularly young people, regarding nature.
The Education Department of the Environmental Board bases its work on the idea that environmental education shapes the way people think and implements this philosophy by offering continuous training to specialists in nature and environmental education, improving the study resources on sustainable development and offering free programmes to tens of thousands of students from all over Estonia to complement the education based on the national curricula. There are lots of practical ESD-related activities and programmes available for schools in Estonia and they are extremely popular among teachers and students. The Ministry of the Environment coordinates the electronic database that unites educational programmes for environment and sustainable development topics; more than 70 organisations provide activities to children from preschool age to adults, from camping in a bog to studying aquatic life in Estonian lakes. The Ministry of Education and Research is responsible for implementing ESD topics through the formal education system and the national
starts in early childhood education. The Estonian National Curriculum for Pre-school Child Care Institutions describes the learning content and educational objectives in seven fields, one of which is â€œMe and the Environmentâ€?. The objectives of this field of study include both cognitive content elements (e.g. noticing changes in the nature) and skills and values content (e.g. valuing the health of oneself and others, trying to have a healthy and safe lifestyle). 39
In addition to involving ESD topics in the subject curricula, Estonia has a relatively long history in teaching sustainable development as a cross-curricular topic. The idea of cross-curricular topics in the national curriculum is to integrate general and curricular competences and to span them across numerous subjects. The cross-curricular topics are priorities for society. In schools, the cross-curricular topics are taught through the structure of the learning environment, subject study, selection of optional subjects, creative works, extra-curricular and hobby activities. The compulsory cross-curricular topic “Environment” was first introduced in the National Curriculum for Basic and Secondary Schools in 1996. The later version of the National Curriculum adopted in 2002 implemented a cross-curricular topic that from then on is called “Environment and Sustainable Development”. This topic strives to shape the pupils into socially active, responsible and environmentally aware people, who preserve and protect the environment, value sustainability and are ready to find solutions to the problems of the environment and human development. This cross-curricular topic, regardless of its name, has, through more than 15 years, concentrated on promoting environmental aspects of sustainable development. The economic content present in the general objectives of the cross-curricular topic talks mainly about valuing and following sustainable lifestyles. Compared to the environmental content, socio-cultural objectives are least presented in the three versions of the national curriculum.
The latest of them, however, has several improvements and aims at guiding the students towards understanding how social, economic, cultural and technological developments of the humanity are connected. Since the schools started following the latest version of the national curriculum only in September 2011, it is still too early to comment how the improved content was implemented and how it affected students’, teachers’ and schools’ understanding of sustainable development. Estonia has established a clear state policy about ESD: a programme and an action plan for developing environmental education at basic and secondary school level were launched in January 2011. The objectives of this programme are not only to educate the teachers about ESD topics, but also to conduct research on the availability of ESD-related teaching and study materials or how ESD networks function in Estonia.