The Strategy Persuading Public on Environmental Awareness

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A lecture by Prof Dr Shabaz Khan

The Director of UNESCO Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific

The Centre held a training course started on 19 July 2016. The participants were teachers and education personnel from the SEAMEO member countries. It provided many activities that led them to have a better understanding and knowledge through practicing and experiencing environmental education for sustainable development in a scientific way. The Centre also invited many great professors as the lecturers in the training course.

One of the lectures was about the Strategy Persuading Public Environmental Awareness, an excellent and fun presentation delivered by Prof Shahbaz Khan. He made the atmosphere during the lecture so comfortable and encouraged the participants to feel free to talk, share ideas, and ask questions.

At the beginning of his presentation, he gave the participants a brief explanation about the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisations (UNESCO) since he is the Director of the UNESCO regional science bureau for Asia and the Pacific. UNESCO is an agency of the United Nations (UN) that has many contributions to the world, namely the construction of peace, human development, and intercultural dialogue in globalisation era through education, science, culture, communication, and information. In general, the overarching objectives of the UNESCO are about the peace and sustainable development. UNESCO plays certain roles as a standard setter and a clearing house in every country it is established and these are the ways that show UNESCO contributions.

Prof Shabaz Khan is a good presenter because he told the participants some examples that occur and could be found in daily life in order to give a clearer picture about what he was explaining. His interesting statement was that people have been the main actors in ruining the environment all this time. He furthermore explained that using dark colours for clothing has been a big environmental issue. It is a simple thing people do because of their egos but it gives bad impact to the environment and to them as well. “We cannot make people change their lifestyles since it is very personal,” he emphasised, “so we need to do a persuasive approach.”

Hence, UNESCO has a big challenge to persuade country on environmental awareness. He then kept asking the participants whether they know or do not know how UNESCO persuades every country to realise how severe the environment is nowadays. He made it as clear as crystal that UN agenda by 2030 is to put people and wellbeing and planet at the centre so it needs effort to achieve it in time.

From his talk, it can be assumed that persuading public to change their vision about environment and their lifestyles is not easy to be done. It needs three main things, he explained. The first is information; it is an important thing because when one is going to give some groups of people an understanding of the structures, conditions, and cause-effect relationship, one will need valid, legal, and scientific information. The second is knowledge; it helps one to understand and analyse the complexity of phenomena and processes. The last is application of knowledge-wisdom; it is used to implement and apply the knowledge for problem solving with consideration of environmental potential and socio-cultural conditions.

The participants also got a loud and clear explanation from him that education is the first parameter of human development index (HDI) and also to build a bridge to create a public community who has high environment awareness. Hence, the teachers have important roles especially in persuading students due to the goal. Last thing, he said “be a rich-heart person” and it was a really touching saying to remind everyone about how beautiful and meaningful life is when everyone has a rich heart.