Dasgupta, NGOs and the silence on schools

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates

As I noted the other week that the Dasgupta Review has been published.  It has been widely welcomed with some NGOs publishing extensive comments.  See, for example, this from WWF-UK.  The WWF commentary makes a number of key points, the first two of which are:

  • We welcome the Dasgupta Review, which uses a robust analytical framework to demonstrate how nature’s contribution to our continued economic prosperity and wellbeing is not reflected in current economic models, tools and policymaking.
  • The powerful but unsustainable incentives that this embeds within our economic and financial systems are a primary reason for humanity’s overuse of nature and for the environmental crisis we now face.

Another key point (agreeing with Dasgupta) was that a transition towards a nature-positive global economy will require a fundamental transformation of our institutions and systems – particularly our finance and education systems – to ensure our collective actions align with this overarching goal.  Reading this, I hoped to find more about it; perhaps that some detail might be proposed for the bare bones that Dasgupta itself had proposed.  I was disappointed as two other references to education just repeated this point, whilst a third was about business needing to educate its customers.  There was no mention of schools, teachers or students.  I was disappointed then, but not surprised.

I tried the Wildlife Trusts next to see what they had to say.  They at least had a section [Make nature central to our education] of their comments devoted to education.  Here it is:

"The Review also recognises that at the heart of our unsustainable engagement with nature lies deep-rooted and widespread institutional failure.  To enable the changes we want to see, our institutions also need to change – this should start with our education system.  By experiencing the natural world, people are far more likely to take better care of it.  But inadequate teaching and learning for all ages is creating a growing disconnection between people and the natural world.  If we don’t take the opportunity to ensure that future generations nurture a connection to nature through nature-based learning, nothing will change.  Learning about our natural world should be embedded within the education system at all levels, through the Natural History GCSE and by ensuring at least an hour of learning outside every day.  The evidence shows that this will improve children’s confidence and educational attainment, their mental and physical wellbeing, as well as teaching them the skills they need for the future."

Most of this just repeats what Dasgupta says, and suggests that they don't understand that the proposed GCSE in natural history will be optional.

I then tried the RSPB, but a search on their website revealed no comment at all, although Mark Avery's blog features a brief comment by RSPB's CEO, Beccy Speight who doesn't mention education.  I then went back to the RSPB site to see if she had said more than this, but I couldn't even find what Avery had spotted.  Am I so inept, or is there a problem with the RSPB search mechanism?  And with how environmental NGOs continually sideline the education of young people.

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates


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