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World Environmental Education Day

The 26th of January is World Environmental Education Day. This day is dedicated to the educational engagement with the topic of the environment.

Since when has World Environmental Education Day been celebrated?

The background of this day of action for the environment is well documented. It dates back to the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, or UNCHE, which was organised in Stockholm between June 5 and 16, 1972. This conference in the Swedish capital was the first ever United Nations environmental conference and can be seen as the beginning of international efforts to implement a global environmental policy.

Almost 50 years ago, around 1200 participants from 113 different countries took part in the conference. The outcome of this conference was the adoption of 26 principles for environment and development, which were subsequently detailed in an action plan with 109 recommendations for international environmental management.

The member states that signed these principles also committed themselves to transboundary cooperation, which eventually resulted in UNEP, the United Nations Environment Programme, on 15 December 1972.

Why is the International Day of Action for Environmental Education on 26 January?

Actually, there are two different dates for World Environmental Education Day, which, according to its history, could actually be placed in June.

The World Environmental Education Congress (WEEC) celebrates World Environmental Education Day every year on 14 October. However, many environmental groups and organisations celebrate it on 26 January.

While the WEEC specifically refers to the United Nations Intergovernmental Conference on Environmental Education on 14 October 1977 in Tbilisi, Georgia, 26 January seems to have a more symbolic character. In concrete terms, the reference to the 26 Principles for a Common Environment adopted in 1972 suggests itself as an interpretation.

Goals and intentions of the World Environmental Education Day

The core message of World Environmental Education Day is primarily to raise public awareness of the importance of environmental education as a scientific discipline. Special emphasis is placed on the social and societal implications of environmental problems, the consequences of which will be felt even more acutely in the years to come.

Further information on the World Day of Environmental Education:

Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (English)

Report on the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (PDF/English)