Questions about the boundaries of environmental education have existed since its beginnings. Here’s what the North American equivalent to NAEE says:
“Environmental education is a process that helps individuals, communities, and organizations learn more about the environment, and develop skills and understanding about how to address global challenges. It has the power to transform lives and society. It informs and inspires. It influences attitudes. It motivates action. Environmental education is a key tool in expanding the constituency for the environmental movement and creating healthier and more civically-engaged communities.
NAAEE’s vision is of a just and sustainable world where environmental and social responsibility drive individual, institutional, and community choices. And its mission is to use the power of education to advance environmental literacy, and civic engagement to create a more equitable and sustainable future. Like NAEE, it works with educators, policymakers, and partner organisations.
It espouses the Tbilisi definition from 1977 which says that “environmental education is a learning process that increases people’s knowledge and awareness about the environment and its associated challenges, develops the necessary skills and expertise to address the challenges, and fosters attitudes, motivations, and commitments to make informed decisions and take responsible action.”
As for why we need environmental education, it says:
“The environment sustains all life on earth. It provides us with nourishment and inspiration. Our economy thrives on a healthy environment. A growing body of research tells us that time spent in nature provides physical and psychological benefits. Our personal and cultural identities are often tied to the environment around us. At the same time, it’s impossible not to be deeply concerned about the unprecedented environmental, social, and economic challenges we face as a global society—from climate change and loss of species and habitats, to declines in civic engagement, decreasing access to nature, a growing gap between the haves and have nots, and other threats to our health, security, and future survival. Environmental education is a process that helps individuals, communities, and organizations learn more about the environment, develop skills to investigate their environment and to make intelligent, informed decisions about how they can help take care of it.”