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$500,000 Boost to Environmental Education Research

23 December 2003

The Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, has approved a $500,000 funding boost for environmental education research to be conducted by Macquarie University.

"The environment is everyone's business and effective environmental education is critical in order for the Australian community to play its role in sustaining Australia's fragile environment," Dr Kemp said.

"Macquarie University is an established leader in environmental education research in Australia and is well placed to provide high quality research which will lead to practical outcomes in terms of changing the behaviour of organisations and individuals.

"This research will identify key factors and impediments influencing sustainability education, evaluate existing approaches to environmental capacity building, and develop effective educational materials and programs to promote behaviour change towards the sustainable use of Australia's resources," Dr Kemp said.

The research program will be headed up by Associate Professor Daniella Tilbury, Graduate School of Environment, Macquarie University. Dr Tilbury is also a regional chair of the IUCN Commission on Education and Communication.

This initiative will fulfil the need identified in the Australian Government's National Action Plan for Environmental Education for effective environmental education research and high quality resources. Under the arrangement, Macquarie University will undertake a range of projects designed to better understand methods of influencing organisations and individuals and develop appropriate resources to do so. It will utilise its own expert resources, but will also employ the best available resources from other sources relevant to the particular project being undertaken.

One of the initial projects proposed is the development of a "sustainability toolkit" that will both explain to industry sustainability in an environment context and provide practical tools to enable companies to report on their environmental performance.

"An environmentally literate community is fundamental to addressing Australia's environmental challenges. The Australian Government's substantial investment in its various environmental policies and programs — notably the $2.7 billion Natural Heritage Trust, its $1.4 billion National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality, the $40 million Sustainable Cities program and its various greenhouse initiatives — need to be supported by appropriate education processes to ensure the benefits of these programs last into the future," said Dr Kemp.

The approach being adopted is consistent with advice provided by the National Environmental Education Council, an expert advisory body in this area.

For further information please contact Mr Peter Woods on (02) 6274 1198.