Environmental education is to build a new ecological society

Distinguished representatives of the United Nations institutions at our side since the beginning of our adventure in 2003,

Czech authorities,

All members and staff of the local organizing committee, dear friends and colleagues engaged in environmental education, many warmest thanks for attending this 11th congress in Prague, onsite or online.

In spite of everything, against all the odds, we are here, in some way, in person or thanks to the Internet.

“Thanks” is the first word I want to underline, the second is “In spite of everything, we are here”.

After two years of huge pandemic and in times of war near us, with refugees around us. The situation is getting worse and we express our solidarity for the victims of the war.  “Near us” and “around us” is in the literal sense, near Prague and this congress Centre. But in a globalized world, on this small and finite planet, everywhere and everything is “near us”.

So, “Building bridges” and building bridges in times of climate urgency, this title imagined in 2018 is more and more meaningful.

In 1969 Environmental Education, the first journal on environmental education, inside of its first slim 32 pages issue, wrote that the goal of EE is that every citizen “knows it deep in his/her heart and bones, the simple facts that he/she is absolutely dependent on his environment, that he/she is affected by is environment, and that he/she affects his/her environment”.

This goal is ever valid, solid, and compelling.

This year we celebrate two significant fiftieth anniversaries: the first UN conference on the environment in Stockholm and the MIT report to the Club of Rome: “The Limits to Growth”.

Environmental education is to build a new ecological society.

According to Edgar Morin, it is to build a human community -a planetary community of destiny. Thanks to the culture of interdependence, and of the limits, it can come to light, a culture we can cultivate, breed, and spread. We must be a force of peace and ecological transition drivers.

It needs more competencies, more research, more relationships, and alliances. In sum, more contacts and a stronger WEEC Network.

On Wednesday, we will announce the 12th WEEC in 2024. From now we encourage all of you to consider candidacies for the 13th congress in 2026. The call for bids opens today.

Thanks a lot again. Have lovely days of talk, discoveries, and new friendships. And meet again every day after this 11th congress in Prague, which I wish fruitful and gratifying.

Despite everything.