|Editor||P. Cunningham & N. Fretwell, Lifelong Learning and Active Citizenship|
The conferences about biological diversity of the Unescocat Congress highlighted the need to reverse the hegemonic, anthropocentric trend in biodiversity management. They stressed the principle of interdependence among the elements of an ecosystem, calling it a requirement for life. It is essential that we start with specific dialog-based experiences that take into account the traditional forms of understanding and interacting with the land. Science and technology, as instruments for conservation and development, should be used in the service of general welfare. Agencies like UNESCO advocate that culture is globally recognized as the fourth pillar of sustainable development. Human cultures are numerous and diverse. They allow people to make sense of their lives and to manage their relationships with other people and the natural world. Consumer cultures are behind what Gus Speth has called the “Great Collision” between a finite planet and the seemingly infinite demands of human society. If we are to prevent both a dramatic depletion of biodiversity and the collapse of human civilization a wholesale transformation of dominant cultural patterns is needed. That means rejecting consumerism —the cultural orientation that leads people to find meaning, contentment, and acceptance through what they consume—and establish in its place a new cultural framework centred on sustainability. Education plays a crucial role in creating new forms of “ecological citizenship” that lead people to think more critically about their interactions with the environment, engage practically with collective problems, and assume responsibility for their conduct. So the needed change for an ecological citizenship has very much to do with culture, with values, with ethics. First of all, it will be necessary to replace the sense of self as consumer with a sense of self as green citizen.