Every day we have news of the pandemic that does not finish remitting. But they are not the only ones. On our screens, information about the climate crisis or pressure on ecosystems. They are just a few factors in global environmental change.
And every day we receive news of new environmental regulations that show us a world that is yet to be born. An example is the restriction of flights in France when the distance is less than two and a half hours and can be replaced by train travel. The environmental goal is to reduce pollution.
Many of these measures come from governments, but they are not the only ones that can do something. Environmental awareness has been in place for decades. And this tells us about the role of citizens in environmental and, therefore, social and economic transformations.
What is environmental citizenship?
It is key to know what environmental citizenship is to know what makes us environmental citizens. The European Network for Environmental Citizenship defines it as “The responsible environmental behavior of citizens who act and participate in society as agents of change in the private and public spheres, on a local, national and global scale, through individual and collective actions, in the direction of problem solving environmental “.
This represents a crucial change in our role as citizens. We are no longer only passive recipients of environmental regulations, but we also have a fundamental role in being agents of change.
This does not assume full responsibility. Our actions as individuals will always be framed in the actions of the Government. But we are also supporters of the transformations of the government. Therefore, we have a double role as agents of environmental change: our own environmental behavior and our role in changing the agenda of governments.
Therefore, environmental citizenship is crucial to the success of any environmental policy. There are numerous very ambitious environmental policies that require the indispensable participation of citizens, such as those on sustainability and on the circular and low-carbon economy. They are not top-down policies. But not only from bottom to top.
If the current health crisis has taught us anything, it is that, in the face of common and global problems, cooperation is essential for success.
What makes us environmental citizens?
Going from the concept of environmental citizenship to the fact (being an environmental citizen) requires a significant effort, in line with the phrase that is recognized by the Mariscal de Campo Helmuth Karl Bernard von Moltke: “No plan, no matter how good, resists its first contact with the enemy, with reality.”
It is that reality with which you have to fight. What are our weapons metaphorically? Mainly, adopt environmental attitudes and behaviors in our day to day and make ecological decisions, at a private and collective level. And at a general level, transform society by increasing our participation in decision-making processes that allow key issues to be included on the agenda.
In addition, it is necessary to be aware and apply our environmental rights and duties. But not only those of our environment that we can know. Also from distant places that suffer the actions of our model of consumption and life.
Are we environmental citizens?
I believe that important steps have been taken in Spain to become environmental citizens. And, in fact, it has been achieved that the environmental issue is on the agenda of the Administrations, although still in an uneven way.
It is an issue still in process and for which, as always, we need education, conventional and also through the media.
Education is the key tool from the present to build a new future in which we can live in harmony with nature. As stated in the work of the European Network for Environmental Citizenship, “education plays a key role in shaping future environmental citizens; no one is born an environmental citizen, but anyone can become one through education ”.
That balance with nature is the goal for an environmental citizen, a citizen with environmental awareness and action. But not only from the bucolic concept of nature, which is also necessary. Also from our right to breathe clean air and to have clean oceans. To properly manage waste and close cycles. To consume clean, renewable and sustainable energy. To have a spatial planning that protects key resources and shows guidelines for social, economic and environmental balance. To have a city in harmony with the environment and connected with ecological corridors. To the enjoyment of the environment without diminishing our future development possibilities. To have a future, environmental.