After one of the most polarizing and contentious U.S. presidential campaigns in living memory, I want you to know that NAAEE’s values remain steadfast. We are a non-partisan organization that is focused on advancing environmental literacy and civic engagement. We work together to create a more diverse and inclusive movement that will lead to a more sustainable future for all. We believe that together, we can work toward a future where people and the environment thrive. Our work is based on the best scientific thinking, the best thinking in education, and the best thinking in environmental protection. We believe in kindness, compassion, respect, and equity.
Our initiatives to link EE and civic engagement are critical. As a country, we need to discuss tough issues and look for common ground. We need to listen to each other. We need to help everyone we interact with understand what they can do to be part of the process to protect the environment, create healthier communities, work for shared prosperity for everyone, and create a stronger and more inclusive movement. As my friend and colleague Queta Gonalez says, we need to keep working “toward a world that is clean, green, and inclusive for all.”
At NAAEE, we will continue to work tirelessly to create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive movement. We will continue to use the power of education to address climate change, loss of biodiversity, water quality, and the pressing issues that face our global society. And we will continue to work with people from all sides of the political continuum to create a more sustainable future.
Our challenge, as important now as it has ever been, is to demonstrate that the environment is a core societal value and not a republican or democratic value. We can’t survive as a species without a healthy environment. We can’t survive as a society without respecting our differences. We need to listen to where people are coming from and work to find a way forward. Our profession knows how to do this, and we do it well. Our expertise will be more essential than ever to promote understanding, bridge cultures, and connect people to nature.
The Kettering Foundation, one of our partners in promoting civic engagement, is all about strengthening democracy. They focus on three things:
- Democracy requires responsible citizens who can make sound decisions about their future and can act on these decisions.
- Democracy requires a community, or a society of citizens, that can work together to address commons problems.
- Democracy requires institutions with public legitimacy that contribute to strengthening society.
Environmental education can help us create informed citizens, engaged communities, and strong institutions that are committed to creating a more sustainable future. We will continue to make progress and work together to address the tough challenges we will face ahead. For ideas about how you can get more involved in the political process, check out CNN’s tips at http://cnn.it/2eX0ZfO.
Please let us know what you’re thinking and what ideas you have for us, and join in the discussions on eePRO. And don’t miss the webinar “Building a Successful 21st Century EE Movement: Accelerating Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” on Thursday, November 17 at 3:00 ET. Together, with all of you and our networks throughout North America and beyond, we can work in communities everywhere to continue to shape the future and create the world we want.
NAAEE Executive Director
We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.
One lesson I have learned and will continue to reiterate is that it is one world and one environment much as our contexts may differ.
—Dr. Daniel J. Babikwa, GEEP Delegate, Kampala, Uganda