Australians need to 'school up on environmental literacy'


Professor Andrew Campbell ... "We need to improve the environmental literacy of the entire Australian population."

A Charles Darwin University academic has warned that Australia’s capacity to engage with the future rests with an urgent need to boost the nation’s ability to “read the environment”.

Professor Andrew Campbell, the Director of Charles Darwin University’s Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods, said improving environmental literacy among Australians was an essential ingredient in developing the nation’s capacity to negotiate change.

“We need to improve the environmental literacy of the entire Australian population, helping people to read, understand and act on changes and trends in the world around us,” Professor Campbell said.

“It would engage innovative Australian small businesses working in the sustainability sector, help re-position Australia internationally in the climate debate and develop generations of people better able to adapt to a changing world.”

Professor Campbell’s essay “Resilience needs a sense of community, a sense of place” was published this week by the independent think tank Australia 21.

Launched by Professor Ross Garnaut at the National Press Club on Monday (17 June), the booklet “Placing Global Change on the Australian election agenda” raised serious challenges to Australian society that were being ignored by the current political process, Professor Campbell said.

“The questions asked in this anthology should be part of the political debate in the lead-up to the Federal election,” he said.

“We would do well to create a new political space and energy for new forms of leadership to emerge in our increasingly hazardous and resource-constrained world.”

Professor Campbell said much of the preparatory thinking for an Australian Environmental Literacy initiative had been done already.

“What is needed is national leadership, an overarching vision based on a coherent narrative, and a kick-start to get the federal machinery working.”

The booklet is available for download from Australia 21 at

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