Strengthening Environmental and SCP Education in the Philippines
In December 2016 the EU-funded SWITCH-Asia Policy Support Component (PSC) for the Philippines has been granted an extension, enabling the project to continue its work until June 2017. This extended phase includes a new technical assistance activity geared towards the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of Education (DepEd).
The latest activity aims at strengthening the existing environmental education programme for schools at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels, with reference to Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) and its links to the socio-cultural aspects of education. Besides contributing to strengthen the implementation of the National Environmental Awareness and Education Act of 2008 (RA9512), the project will provide policy level recommendations to the National Environmental Education Action Plan for Sustainable Development (NEEAPSD), the main national action plan for environmental education in the Philippines, as well as guidelines, checklist and evaluation criteria to the National and Regional Search for Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Schools programme (NRSSEFS), an existing bi-annual national level school campaign covering primary, secondary and tertiary level education. Targeting the NEEAPSD and NRSSEFS as the main policy instruments for school campaigns will ensure up scaling and mainstreaming of efforts beyond a few ad-hoc school level campaigns.
This new component will support the Environmental Education and Information Division (EEID) of the Environmental Management Bureau-Department of Environment and Natural Resources (EMB-DENR) in the following specific areas:
· SCP, covering existing government policy initiatives supported by SWITCH-Asia in themes such as green procurement, clean energy (energy efficiency and biofuels) and clean air and linking these themes to day-day life of students and behavioural change.
· Socio-cultural sustainability, including cultural inclusivity, social values and drivers for environmental sustainability and gender considerations (e.g. gender sensitive approach, messaging, gender impact, gender equality and gender differentiated monitoring).
Proposed outcomes of the PSC work on education have been preliminarily discussed with the Ambassador of the Delegation of the European Union to the Philippines, H.E. Mr Franz Jessen and other EU Delegation representatives and include a mini desk study on national status and international practices of integrating SCP and socio-cultural sustainability in education, two Policy Briefs to strengthen SCP and socio-cultural sustainability in the NEEAPSD and a set of dedicated capacity building and communication initiatives.
In February, the PSC team further met local government stakeholders. On 14 February, a workshop was held to gather information on how sustainable development can be integrated in education. In this first of a series of six workshops, the PSC shared international and national best practices on education for sustainability with over 30 participants from government agencies, schools, universities and local government. Two on-going SWITCH-Asia projects in the Philippines - High Efficiency Motors (HEMS) and Zero Carbon Resorts (ZCR) - shared their efforts and achievements as valuable sustainable practices at the ground level. This included the initiative by the HEMS project to create a community of practice in energy efficiency and sustainable practices promoted by the ZCR project that are adopted by small tourism resorts and can be replicated at the household level.
Ms. Elenida Basug, Chief of the Environmental Education and Information Division at DENR, presented an overview of initiatives in developing climate-resilient schools. The overview illustrated how environmental education is being integrated in the formal school curricula at primary, secondary and tertiary level across subjects and described theoretical and practical environmental education modules currently being implemented (such as tree planting, waste minimization, segregation, recycling, composting, fresh water and marine conservation, forest management and conservation, livelihood opportunities).
The workshop also addressed the links between SCP and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Asked to rank the SDGs according to national priorities, participants singled out SDG 3- "Ensure Healthy Living", SDG2 - "End Hunger" and SDG 1 - "End Poverty", in this sequence.
The participants identified three key priority areas in terms of everyday practices, namely:
1. Purchasing decisions that included value for money in the long run, cost to environment and society and the responsibility to provide transparent information to consumers to help them make informed purchasing decisions.
2. Prudent use of energy and water, including the use of energy and water efficient devices.
3. Budget considerations including living below the means and not within the means, which included setting aside at least three months of salary for emergencies, saving on resources, increasing on savings instead of need based expenditure and making a monthly budget plan.
During the workshop, participants were also invited to identify Filipino values considered valuable and necessary in achieving sustainable development. Initial findings pointed to the following main values: "Religious", "Hospitable", "Loving", "Talented", "Resilient", "Patriotic" and "Adaptable".
The final theme for the day was the link between the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Filipino values and the everyday practices associated with SCP. The participants discussed how best to integrate these concepts into the national education agenda, so to ensure that education for sustainability is balanced and not solely focused on environmental issues. This preliminary discussion will help to inform future related policy recommendations.
Written by: PSC Philippines project team
Edited by: Silvia Sartori (SWITCH-Asia Network Facility)