Environmental education activity proceeds from principles of sustainable development and is based on the national curriculum. In 2005, the Minister of the Environment and the Minister of Education and Research signed a Joint Action Memorandum, the aim of which is to shape through a study process responsible citizens who value the environment and preserve it. Until then, the activity plan signed in 2000 was the basis for such actions. A year later, the concept of environmental education was formed.
Bureau of the Environmental Awareness of the Ministry of the Environment
In the Ministry of the Environment, Public Relations Department handles the field of environmental education and information, and the composition of the Department also includes the Bureau of the Environmental Awareness.
The bureau organises the evaluation of applications submitted to the Environmental Awareness Programme of the Environmental Investment Centre. The aim of the programme is to provide support to activities that increase the environmental awareness of the population.
There is also a speciality library, whose task is to provide information services to the officials of the Ministry, to order literature and information brochures, as well as to spread library materials on the environment, issued with the participation of the Ministry of the Environment, to target groups, incl. schools and libraries. The library also serves other specialists outside the Ministry.
The director of the bureau represents the Ministry of the Environment Estonian National Commission for UNESCO. The activities of UNESCO include improving education on sustainable development, which acquires increasingly wide attention all over the world.
In improving environmental education, the Ministry of the Environment cooperates with the Ministry of Education and Research and other institutions engaged with environmental education.
Environmental education specialists
The Ministry of the Environment supports the improvement of sustainable development by developing the respective infrastructure in Estonia, training continuously natural and environmental education specialists, improving sustainable development related study materials, and by providing free programmes supporting national curriculums for tens of thousands of students over Estonia.
According to the ministries’ agreement, by now, a suitable infrastructure for practical environmental education has been developed for already ten years in the area of government of the Ministry of the Environment, and the work is conducted by specialists with respective education.
Estonian Museum of Natural History is a nature education centre of the area of government of the Ministry of the Environment, where three nature education specialists work; one of them is focused on Russian-speaking population. The total of approximately 20,000 students a year participates in the study programmes of the Estonian Museum of Natural History that support the national curriculum. As a parallel activity, the museum also organises the further training of teachers. It is worthwhile to take a look at the website of the Estonian Museum of Natural History from time to time; virtual exhibitions may be also found there on the basis of the museum collections.
State Forest Management Centre has developed a network of nature centres covering the entire state, with competent specialists as its employees. RMK nature centres also provide study programmes to approximately 20,000 students, compiled on the basis of the national curriculum.
All counties have employees from the Department of Environmental Education of the Environmental Board. Environmental education was initiated in the Environmental Board by the obligation to introduce to people natural values of protected areas and national parks. On the basis of requirements of sustainable development, study programmes have been developed which handle such aspects related to environmental education as waste management, mining of mineral resources, and other economic and cultural aspects influencing the status of the environment.
On the initiative of the Ministry of the Environment, a web-based database has been created, where one can find study programmes that support the national curriculum as well as contact details of institutions that offer environmental education - and this irrespective of the affiliation or form of ownership.
We also deem important area-specific environmental schools directed at journalists and comprising different themes, such as forest, waste, fishery, euro money, etc. At these schools, area specialists introduce to journalists the circumstances related to various decisions.
Last updated: 13.07.2021