In a 2021 environmental awareness survey commissioned by GIZ SPACES among 1,316 domestic protected area (PA) visitors, less than 40% knew about the reasons for maintaining and managing PAs. Even less (28%) were aware of a guideline on what to do and not to do when visiting a PA. Selected PA staff responsible for environmental education centers achieved an overall environmental knowledge score of just 34%, with zero grasp on research methods, mushrooms, ecosystem services and local environmental problems.
Two SPACES training workshops on environmental education and communication (EEC) in April 2022 strived to counterbalance these trends. For 3 days, more than 50 participants from PAs, NGOs, government, research and donor organizations discussed and explored creative ways of promoting and practicing EEC in Mongolia. They enjoyed the interactive and participatory nature of the moderation and visualization methods (MOVE) employed throughout the workshop, which allowed for factual plenary inputs on EEC issues as well as edu-taining games, exercises and practice-oriented working group sessions. As a result of the workshop, participants reached a common understanding of EEC formats, training needs and tools, and achieved a thorough grasp of the purpose, structure and contents of an EEC ToolBox and a MOVE Manual developed by GIZ SPACES. The ToolBox is full of EEC games, exercises, and other materials that rangers, green schools, eco-clubs or NGOs may use for trainings and events. In addition, the Mongolian Ecological Center, WWF, Nomadic Nature Conservation, and the National University’s Environmental Education Center presented EEC best practices such as youth-oriented outdoor project weeks and nature & adventure trails.
As a result of this workshop, participants established a Facebook Group “My Green Mongolia” and a working group comprising Freshwater Center, Ecological Police, UNDP ENSURE, GIZ SPACES, ZSL, WWF, TNC, NNC, and the Hustai and Khomintal PAs discussed the concept of a National Environmental Campaign to reach out to all levels of public in an effective and efficient way. The concept’s major principles are cooperation, exchange, and joined forces by all major players in EEC because this will safeguard leverage, outreach and cost-effectiveness. The participating organizations made commitments to contribute to the campaign.
Another workshop for more than 30 PA communications officers identified best-practice examples of communication activities in PAs and developed draft communication plans for three “virtual” protected areas in the “Northern”, “Gobi” and “Western Steppe” areas based on a 10-step approach recommended by OECD-DAC. This peer-to-peer exchange familiarized participants with the draft National Environmental Education and Communication Strategy (NEEC) and encouraged them to develop their own local communication strategies.
Feel free to download all the related media and materials that can be used for environmental education purposes of and distributed through social media channels by any party interested in EEC in Mongolia.