In the Islamic world people are advocating for environmental education. The relationship between environmental education and Islam is eloquently articulated in an article by Nura A. Abboud, a molecular biologist and an environmental activist. She is the Founder of the Jordanian Society for Microbial Biodiversity (JMB).
“Islam considers seeking knowledge as an obligation. Islam teaches its followers to keep streets clean, to help animals and any living being, prohibits the pollution of water, prohibits cutting down a fruitful tree and preserves the components of the environment. Islam also sets legislation for cultivating land and benefiting from it,” Abboud says.
“Additionally, Islam has strict teachings to prevent environmental deterioration caused by industrial development, urbanization, poverty etc. Islam organizes the relationship between humans and nature where it calls for its protection and enrichment through a comprehensive educational process. Islamic teachings in preserving environmental components hold the sense of responsibility and sensitivity. Such teachings were extraordinary at a time when the environment was not suffering the pressures it is suffering nowadays.”
Abboud explains that in Jordan environmental education is largely the domain of NGOs. Organizations like JREDS and RSCN are at the forefront of environmental education in the country. JREDS has implemented three international eco-labeling programs – Green Key, Blue Flag and Eco-Schools. RSCN has designed Environmental Education programs to improve peoples’ general understanding and awareness of environmental issues. They are also behind efforts to protect the natural world.
Despite these efforts, Jordan like much of the Arab world, still does not have a national strategy of environmental education.
Abboud has made a number of suggestions to improve enviro-literacy in Jordan. She states that “Jordan should employ a holistic Environmental Education program adopting sustainable development principles, and presenting green ideas that perceive handling the environmental issues as important target and offers various solutions to different environmental problems which has become a national scourge.”
She goes on to suggest that the Ministry of Education should “empower the youth to participate in solving their own environmental problems as well as affecting the actions of public towards the desired goal, which is participating in solving the grim reality of environmental problems in the country.”
She also makes it clear that the scientific community should also get involved to help the public to understand the implications of its research as apply it to education.
Abboud advocates for a holistic approach of zero-emission eco-schools throughout Jordan. She wants to see eco-schools that are constructed out of locally sourced materials and derive their energy exclusively from renewables. She specifically suggests that geothermal energy should be used for heating and cooling. She also supports harvesting rainwater for use in gardens and cleaning.
Abboud’s efforts are a shining example of people around the world who are working to green education and facilitate a sustainable future.
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