The Convention’s CEPA Programme


Additional Guidance on Reviewing and Action Planning for Wetland Communication, Education and Public Awareness (CEPA)

Available in hard copy from the Ramsar Secretariat (

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Additional Guidance on Reviewing and Action Planning for Wetland Communication, Education and Public Awareness (CEPA)
to assist Contracting Parties in implementing Resolution VIII.31, the Convention’s CEPA Programme, 2003-2008

Ramsar Secretariat, May 2004


Executive summary
Acronyms and terms
Chapter 1: About this additional guidance
1.1 What is it for?
1.2 Approach to the compilation of the guidance
1.3 Who is it for?
1.4 How is it arranged?
Chapter 2: The roles for wetland (CEPA) in the implementation of the Ramsar Convention
2.1 Introduction
2.2 What are the issues that CEPA can address?
2.3 Application of CEPA to wetland issues
2.4 Conceptual frameworks
Chapter 3: Who should be involved in CEPA reviewing and action planning?
3.1 Introduction
3.2 What the CEPA Guidelines tell us
3.3 Administrative arrangements
3.4 Roles and tasks in reviewing and action planning
3.5 CEPA Focal Points
3.6 CEPA Task Forces
3.7 Other participants
Chapter 4: Reviewing wetland CEPA activity
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Why carry out a CEPA review?
4.3 The review process
4.4 Timetables and timescales
Chapter 5: Developing and implementing an action plan for wetland CEPA
5.1 Introduction
5.2 Why develop an action plan?
5.3 What should be included?
5.4 An action plan strategy
5.5 Timetables and timescales
Chapter 6: Practical Tools
6.1 Introduction
6.2 Tool 1 Consequences wheel
Tool 2 Awareness-to-Action chain
Tool 3 Dartboard
Tool 4 Matrix
Tool 5 SWOT analysis
Tool 6 Visioning
Tool 7 Stakeholder decision analysis
Tool 8 Example review and action plan procedure and timescale
Glossary of CEPA terms


The Ramsar Secretariat acknowledges the professional and thorough work of Dr Jane Claricoates in preparing the background paper which formed the basis of the first edition of this document. Dr Claricoates was charged with the task of providing assistance to Contracting Parties in implementing a significant part of Resolution VII.9 on the Convention’s Outreach Programme: the review of current CEPA provision and the development of a national Action Plan to guide future CEPA activity. Although Resolution VIII.31, adopted at the 8th Conference of the Contracting Parties (COP8) in 2002, now supersedes Resolution VII.9, the important task of reviewing and action planning for wetland CEPA remains a cornerstone of the guidelines. We hope this additional guidance will stimulate progress in this area of the Convention's work.

Acknowledgement from Dr Claricoates: the perspectives and approaches expounded in this document have been elaborated through help I received from others in the field, representing many countries and many sectors connected directly or indirectly with the Ramsar network. In particular, I must thank the following for the information, ideas and insights they provided so willingly, often at short notice, and with great enthusiasm and generosity. I would like to thank them personally, for making this task so much easier, indeed possible. I would also like to thank them on behalf of all those Ramsar actors who will benefit from their experience and inputs. Thank you all.

Mark Bacon, UK Focal Point for the Aarhus Convention, UK Government
Bishnu Bhandari, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, Japan
András Böhm, CEPA Focal Point, Government of Hungary
Angela Brady, NGO Focal Point Consortium, Australian Wetlands Alliance
Robert Chambers, Institute of Development Studies, UK
Judy Clark, University College, London, UK
Kevin Collins, University College, London, UK
Geoff Cowan, Government of South Africa
Kate Gowland, Government CEPA Focal Point, Environment Australia
Biksham Gujja, WWF International
Chris Hails, WWF International
Doug Hulyer, CEPA Focal Point, WWT, UK
Laurie Hunter, US Fish and Wildlife Service, USA
David Lindley, Rennies Wetlands Project, South Africa
Paul Mafabi, Government of Uganda
Peter Martin, WWF UK
Kimberly McClurg, Government CEPA Focal Point, USA
Marlynn Mendoza, PAWB, Philippines
Mmokomo Moloto, Government of South Africa
Naoko Nakajima, Environment Agency of Japan
Reiko Nakamura, Ramsar Center, Japan
Jonathan Newberry, Ambactus Management, UK
Samuel Kofi Nyame, Ghana Wildlife Society
Reuven Ortal, Government of Israel
Gonzalo Oviedo, WWF International
Christine Prietto, NGO Focal Point Consortium, The Wetlands Centre, Australia
David Pritchard, RSPB, UK
Margaret Rowe, CEPA Task Force, Environment Australia
Ellen Shek, WWF Hong Kong
David Stroud, National Ramsar Committee; Joint Nature Conservation Committee, UK
George Subotsky, University of the Western Cape, South Africa
Koji Tagi, Wetlands International, Japan
Hatem Ben Mohamed Zamouri, Government of Tunisia

Students and staff on the MSc course in Environmental and Development Education, South Bank University, UK, also provided valuable comments.

Executive Summary

This additional guidance presents a variety of concepts, advice and practical tools aimed at assisting with a review or action planning exercise for wetland communication, education and public awareness (CEPA) activities. While the first edition was produced in response to paragraph 9 of Resolution VII.9, which called for National Wetland CEPA Action Plans, this second edition reflects Resolution VIII.31, paragraph 20, which differs only in that it encourages the development of Action Plans at several sub-national as well as national levels, calls on Contracting Parties to the Convention to:

"... undertake a review of national needs, capacities and opportunities in the field of wetland CEPA, and based on this to formulate their National Wetland CEPA Action Plans (at national, sub-national, catchment or local levels), for priority activities which address international, regional, national and local needs".

The document is aimed at all participants in a review and action planning exercise, from whichever sector and operating at whatever level. Following an explanation of the purpose and aims of the document, it focuses on identification of the wetland issues to which CEPA activities are to be addressed and how CEPA might be applied to them. To assist readers in reviewing current CEPA provision, it considers the identification of aims and purposes, principles of procedure and timing as well as reviewing a selection of strategic approaches. In considering the formulation of a CEPA action plan, the document discusses the possible strategies and procedures as well as the action plan content and suggested timescales for the process.

The document usefully considers who should be involved in the review and action planning exercise, and suggests roles and responsibilities for appointed CEPA Focal Points and Task Forces. It also includes a selection of practical tools that have been chosen for their simplicity and efficacy in assisting with some of the common tasks that arise during the course of reviewing and action planning for future CEPA provision. Throughout the document reference is made to further sources of information and help, and a full reference list is provided for materials mentioned in the text.

It is hoped that this additonal gudiance will help support efforts to undertake wetland CEPA reviews and action plans in all regions in which the Ramsar Convention is operative, with a view to improving the impact and strategic approach of CEPA provision in favour of the conservation and wise use of wetlands.

Acronyms and terms used in this document

Body / bodies Body’ and ‘bodies’ have been used throughout the document as a generic term to describe one of a wide range of participants implicated or involved in a process or activity. The range variously includes individuals, communities, not-for-profit organisations, commercial organisations, government departments and agencies, QUANGOs, international agencies and organisations.
CEPA Communication, education and public awareness.
CEPA Guidelines Annexed Guidelines to Resolution VIII.31, incorporated in the Ramsar Handbooks for the Wise Use of Wetlands No. 6: Wetland CEPA: The Convetnion's Programme on communication, education and public awareness (CEPA) 2003-2008 (2nd Edition, 2004). Available in hard copy from the Secretariat and on the Secretariat's Web site at
COP6 6th Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention, Brisbane, Australia, 1996.
COP7 7th Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention, San Jose, Costa Rica, 1999.
COP8 8th Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention, Valencia, Spain, November 2002.
Participation Guidelines Annexed Guidelines to Resolution VII.8, incorporated in the Ramsar Handbooks for the Wise Use of Wetlands No.5: Establishing and strengthening local communities’ and indigenous people’s participation in the management of wetlands. Available in hard copy from the Secretariat and on the Secretariat's Web site at
Ramsar Bureau Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention.
The Convention The Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971). Also known as the Ramsar Convention.

Chapter 1 About this document

1.1 What is this document for?

1. Since the early days of the Convention there has been a growing general recognition of the important role that education and related fields can play in environmental conservation. The Ramsar Convention recognises this potential contribution formally, recently with the adoption of Resolution VII.9 and its annexed guidelines at COP7 in Costa Rica, in May 1999, now superseded by Resolution VIII.31 and its annexed guidelines adopted at COP8 in Valencia in 2002. The Resolution and its guidelines (hereafter called the CEPA Guidelines) are now incorporated in the 2nd Edition of Handbook 6 of the Ramsar Handbooks for the Wise Use of Wetlands (Ramsar Convention Secretariat, 2004c), available on request from the Ramsar Secretariat.

2. The Resolution and its guidelines recognise the impressive array of activities worldwide in wetland communication, education and public awareness (CEPA), but acknowledge that these are not yet achieving their full potential. The Resolution and its CEPA Guidelines therefore aim to renew the Convention’s efforts to promote the conservation and wise use of wetlands through communication, education and public awareness via a call for fresh attention to this strand of implementation.

3. This additional guidance is intended to assist the Contracting Parties in their implementation of the Resolution, particularly offering assistance to:

(a) reviewing their current needs, capacities, opportunities and priorities in wetland communication, education and public awareness (CEPA) (Resolution paragraph 20); and
(b) developing a wetland CEPA Action Plan based on the review (Resolution paragraph 20).

4. This guidance identifies and addresses key factors that will arise in discussions during the planning and implementation of CEPA reviews and the planning of CEPA action plans. It will provide practical support for Contracting Parties and others in their CEPA endeavours, assisting them to make the most of the fresh opportunities presented by the development of a more formalised CEPA strand within the Convention.

1.2 Approach to the compilation of this document

5. This guidance draws on formal Convention texts and associated documents; on theoretical writings in the fields of communication, education and public awareness; on case studies; on written responses to a questionnaire designed for this project; and on conversations with CEPA experts from a number of Ramsar countries. National CEPA Focal Points were invited to contribute to this process. National Ramsar Committee or CEPA Task Force members were also involved. It is therefore based on the writings and practical experience of many people, drawn from a range of Ramsar countries and regions, and reflecting a significant mix of environmental, cultural, social, economic and technical contexts.

6. The guidance cannot be comprehensive in any area since the issues arising are virtually unlimited and the best solutions will have to be tailored to each individual situation. It is hoped, however, that it will help identify best solutions more easily. Neither is it intended to be a comprehensive source of CEPA techniques, but aims to help those undertaking the reviews and action planning to identify appropriate approaches, methods, and expertise, and to locate further resources as necessary to help with more detailed planning and implementation.

1.3 Who is this document for?

7. It has been compiled for the use of Contracting Parties to the Convention on Wetlands and for anyone involved in the planning or implementation of wetland CEPA reviews or action plans, at whatever level (national, regional or local). In practice, the Contracting Parties (meaning specifically the Ramsar Administrative Authorities and their respective governments) implement the Convention through the involvement of many people, representing a wide spectrum of government responsibilities, by working with different agencies from within and from outside government; by working with different organisations; and by working at different levels and in different sectors. This document has been designed to help the range of people working to implement the Convention through appropriate CEPA programmes and activities, whether in a government or non-governmental capacity; at international, national, regional or local level. In trying to address such a wide audience and subject, areas of the document are necessarily scant in detail. Readers are encouraged to work with experienced practitioners and refer to suggested sources.

1.4 Arrangement and use of the document

8. In order to cover such a diverse field of activity and to cater for the needs of a very wide potential user-group of CEPA reviewers and planners, it has been necessary to deal in principles rather than prescriptive solutions to the matters under discussion. The document does not provide definitive answers – or ‘recipes’ – to the many questions that will arise. It aims rather to guide and support. Hence, it may be used to assist early discussions, or in preparing for workshops.

9. The guidance is arranged in six chapters:

  • Chapter 1 describes the document itself.
  • Chapter 2 questions the fundamental purpose of wetland CEPA activity, and provides a conceptual framework for establishing CEPA goals and aims. It looks at identification and exploration of the wetland issues to which CEPA is to be addressed and then at the application of CEPA to the issues.
  • Chapter 3 discusses who should be involved in the action planning and review process. It considers the range of skills that will be needed and includes suggestions for specific roles and responsibilities for CEPA Focal Points and Task Forces.
  • Chapter 4 focuses on reviewing existing CEPA provision and on identifying its potential future contribution to implementation of the Convention.
  • Chapter 5 addresses the formulation of a wetland CEPA action plan, based on the review findings, and includes discussions on strategy and possible procedure. In practice, the review and action planning are two parts of an integrated process. Readers are therefore advised to read both Chapters 3 and 4 in order to pick up all relevant information on a topic. Mutually-relevant sections have been cross-referenced.
  • Chapter 6 provides a selection of practical tools that could be used for some of the common tasks in a CEPA review or action plan.

10. Reference is made to sources of further help throughout the document and a glossary of CEPA terms is included. The latter outlines a selection of potentially troublesome words that are in common usage in the field, explaining some of the main issues around them and the need for clarification where they are used.

Chapter 2: The roles for wetland CEPA in the implementation of the Ramsar Convention

2.1 Introduction

11. In designing an effective CEPA review or action plan, an essential, preliminary step is to establish the precise purpose and potential of CEPA activities. This chapter considers the role of CEPA in addressing wetland issues under the Ramsar Convention and how it can be applied to these issues.

12. An effective review or action plan can only be achieved if a wide range of CEPA actors can be engaged in the process. This in itself presents some challenges because of their diverse professional backgrounds and their often equally diverse perspectives on the aims of a CEPA programme. This chapter also addresses this issue, presenting some conceptual frameworks useful for those involved in reviewing and action planning.

2.2 What are the issues that CEPA can address?

13. The Ramsar Convention is founded on the belief that wetlands provide a wealth of goods and services that have sustained human populations throughout their history. Wetlands also contribute significantly to the maintenance of global biodiversity. Loss and degradation of wetlands reduces this wealth, negatively affecting the health and well-being of human society.

14. Two fundamental roles for CEPA in implementing the Convention are then:

(i) to raise awareness at all levels of society of the functions and values of wetlands to all people, and the cost to society of the loss and degradation of wetlands;
(ii) to use CEPA techniques as a means to resolving wetland problems that result in wetland loss and degradation at Ramsar and other wetland sites.

15. The following paragraphs and Boxes 1 and 2 illustrate how CEPA can address wetland issues with an example of the resolution of a wetland problem using CEPA techniques. The example demonstrates that the delivery of a wetland message through CEPA activities can be highly effective although it is a complex process involving a broad range of stakeholders and CEPA solutions. It demonstrates too that poorly conceived CEPA activities lead to failure. While this example is focussed on the resolution of a wetland problem through CEPA activities, rather than the effective delivery of a positive message about wetland functions and values, its message is the same for both approaches. 

Box 1 Identifying the underlying issues
WETLAND ISSUE: Over-abstraction of water, leading to unacceptably low water levels and availability


Their stake

Perceived issue

Sphere of solution

Site Manager Responsibility to maintain populations of legally-protected species Threat to protected wetland species Ecological
Local people – group (a) Depend directly on the water for domestic uses Loss of availability of an essential resource Social
Local people – group (b) Do not depend on the wetland for their water Irrelevant to them Not applicable
Local craftspeople Depend on the wetland plants for their craft materials Threat to their income Social and economic
Tourist operators Depend on the landscape and wildlife qualities of the wetland for their tourism business Threat to their livelihoods Social and economic
Community workers Interest in the health and welfare of local people Reduced or lost incomes and reduced water quality will impact on the health and welfare of local people Social
Local government Responsible for the welfare of the community Solutions to any problems will be expensive Economic and political


BOX 2: Identifying the solutions
WETLAND ISSUE: Over-abstraction of water, leading to unacceptably low water levels and availability.


Rationale for solution(s)


Sphere of solution

Site Manager Low water level arrow-green2.gif (315 bytes) increased pollutant concentration arrow-green2.gif (315 bytes)threat to protected fish species Take action to protect species, for example:
arrow-green2.gif (315 bytes)  undertake scientific fieldwork
arrow-green2.gif (315 bytes)  begin public awareness programme
arrow-green2.gif (315 bytes)develop and implement a site water level management plan
Ecological or social
Tourist operators Low water level arrow-green2.gif (315 bytes)unsightly location and reduced wildlife Shift tourist operation to another location Social and economic
Local government




Low water level arrow-green2.gif (315 bytes)location becomes unsightly and lacks resources, and so becomes less attractive to local people Seek solutions to maintain the community at the location, for example:
arrow-green2.gif (315 bytes)address the on-site water levels
arrow-green2.gif (315 bytes) address cause of the low water levels at a local or wider level
arrow-green2.gif (315 bytes)address the unsightliness
arrow-green2.gif (315 bytes) address the tourism decline directly
arrow-green2.gif (315 bytes) address the needs of the craftspeople
Economic and political

16. This simple analysis of a wetland issue highlights a number of important points of relevance to CEPA work. Most points are equally relevant to the challenge of delivering a positive message about the values and functions of wetlands:

  • The problem (or symptom – here, unacceptably low water levels) may appear similar to a number of people, but the underlying issue (or cause) may be identified and understood very differently. It will be more effective to focus CEPA activity on the issue(s) than on the problems.
  • The diverse backgrounds of the people delivering the CEPA message can affect their perceptions of the issue and solutions being addressed: are they social or ecological, economic or political? Are they focused primarily on the wise use of water or wetlands; on wildlife conservation or social development? Such different perceptions can cause confusion when deciding the direction and focus of the most appropriate CEPA input and its goals. Participative, open consideration of the issues will help clarify the purpose of CEPA.
  • The issues, differently understood, give rise to different solutions, and the solutions are located within different operational spheres, for example, ecological, social or economic. This has implications for the most effective spheres, stakeholders, methods and messages for CEPA activities.
  • There may be some convergence between perceptions of the issues (unsightliness), or between suggested solutions (address on-site water levels). Such agreement between different groups can be used to identify where and how CEPA might be applied most effectively and emphasises the need to bring together the many different stakeholders that have shared concerns.

2.3 Application of CEPA to wetland issues

17. At what point does a CEPA programme enter the complex picture described in the preceding paragraphs, and with what aims? In the next paragraph and Box 3 the same scenario will be used to develop a CEPA perspective on the issues, and consider where CEPA might usefully be introduced.

18. Box 3 summarises some possible CEPA responses to the different underlying issues and solutions identified in Boxes 1 and 2. A number of general points can be made about the application of CEPA to wetland issues:

  • Understanding of not only the wetland issues, at appropriate levels, but also of CEPA methods and cultural issues, will improve the chances of designing and implementing a successful CEPA programme.
  • The needs of people (survival needs, responsibilities to family or employer, for example) are paramount in practice. CEPA solutions that are not socially acceptable cannot hope to achieve their goals.
  • Cross-sectoral and multilevel working may be necessary to achieve effective CEPA. Such operational arrangements are not common, so creative and exploratory thinking will need to be applied to identify those opportunities with the most potential.
  • A variety of CEPA methods may be needed within one CEPA programme.
  • CEPA activity is not the sole responsibility of, a single group of professionals. There will be benefits to working with professional or experienced communicators and educators and these partnerships are encouraged in planning and undertaking CEPA programmes.
  • Involvement of all stakeholders in identifying the issues and the solutions will usually improve the effectiveness and efficiency with which CEPA can effect change. The planning and implementation of a CEPA programme will be significantly assisted when local people have sufficient technical and local knowledge of the issues and CEPA approaches to be fully involved.
  • Effective application of CEPA can be short (such as when a trained facilitator is involved in a project to assist with a community participation event). Other CEPA input will need to be complex and sustained (for example a public awareness campaign to change a particular practice).
  • CEPA is often slow-acting, and is best understood as a series of investments for significant future returns. Each investment must be strategically linked, to ensure direction, continuity and effect. Strategic thinking and coordination between activities and programmes should be important components of CEPA action planning, which should also be realistic about timescales (see Chapter 5.5).
Box 3 Identifying the CEPA solutions
WETLAND ISSUE: OVER-ABSTRACTION OF WATER, leading to unacceptably low water levels and availability.

CEPA solution



Site Manager


1 Posters, audio-visual materials, radio programmes. Distributed to the places local people use, materials describe protected fish species, explain issues, suggest simple changes in local people’s day-to-day practices. No changes in local practices noted. Manager tries solution 2.
  • Local people understand concerns well, only use absolutely necessary amounts of water – what help is information to them?
2. As above, but information changed to emphasise legal protection and international significance of the protected species. No change observed. Public awareness programme failed.
  • As above.
3. Initiate new public awareness campaign to explain research results (fish species needs cooler water for egg development); suggest practical solutions e.g. planting trees or reducing grazing to increase shade. Information distributed locally. Although approach has worked elsewhere, at this site no significant response. Three months later Manager tries solution 4.
  • Inappropriate time of year - local people have no free time.
  • Information printed on paper of a culturally-taboo colour, therefore inaccessible.
4. Manager reprints information, redistributes it. More people become involved, situation improves, although many of the trees planted are not of suggested species
  • Information printed on a non-taboo-colour paper.
  • Information distributed at quiet time of year in locals’ calendar.

Local Government

5. Publicises (improved) appearance of the location, and opportunities available for tourists. Tourism increases for a time, but then declines again. Increased pressure has been put on the location.
  • CEPA not applied widely enough.
  • Communication required between tourism operators and local government to raise awareness and effect group behaviour changes/ organisation to avoid long-term site damage.
Community workers 6. Notice improvement in health and welfare of local community, and begin a campaign to bring some of the case studies to the attention of the local government. Local government amends policy and thereby enables better sanitary arrangements to be installed.
  • Community workers catalysed action and connected local people and government
  • Community workers helped government operate more effectively.
  • Government provided authority and resources to solve a problem beyond the capacity of the community workers.

Community workers and Site Manager

7. Initiate a programme of meetings in several communities affected by low water levels to gather information relating to their shared concern about poor water quality. Discover the issues are common to many of the communities, and begin solution 8.
  • Understanding of the wider, cross-sectoral issues enabled mutually-beneficial solutions.
8. Begin a programme to inform local and national governments of the effects of low water levels and resultant poor water quality on protected species and local communities. Governments initiate policy changes: legislation is changed. Local governments begin solution 9.
  • Necessary for local people, the warden and community workers, and for three departments of government to work together, to effect this change. It takes many months.

Local government

9 Implements a campaign, targeted at local people, explaining changes in legislation to enable local changes in practices, and the benefits. Local people comply with changes and water quality improves.
  • Time and resources invested in campaign is significantly reduced because the future implementers were involved in identifying the issues and their solution. At implementation, therefore, issues and the personal significance of policy changes were understood.

2.4 Conceptual frameworks
19. To be effective in reviewing and action planning for wetland CEPA, there is a need to involve people from a very wide range of backgrounds – NGOs, local and national Government personnel from different ministries, business people, educators etc. This will inevitably bring together people with potentially different interpretations of the aims of a CEPA programme. It will be important to discuss the meanings which individual members of the review and action planning group attach to ‘CEPA’. The following paragraphs will assist with these discussions.


20. The aims and components of any CEPA activity will reflect the underlying beliefs of its designers. Therefore, it is important for those involved in reviewing (assessing) or planning CEPA activity to be aware of their own and others’ ideologies. Environmental and educational ideologies are of particular significance here. This section will outline one framework for each.

Environmental ideologies
21. An important environmental ideological divide exists between so-called ‘technocentric’ and ‘ecocentric’ ideologies. Some of the main ideas of each are compared in Box 4.

Box 4: A framework for environmental ideologies



  • People are separate from the natural world
  • People are part of the natural world
  • The natural world has utilitarian value to people
  • People have a stewardship responsibility for the natural world
  • People ultimately have control over the natural world
  • People are ultimately constrained by natural laws
  • People enjoy exceptional abilities that enable them to create new technological responses to perceived environmental problems
e.g. people living at a coastal location devise a desalination plant to provide them with freshwater e.g. people cannot naturally survive in a place without freshwater and should not settle there

22. The two environmental ideologies in Box 4 describe extreme positions and it is unlikely that an individual will fully adhere to either position. The significance of these different beliefs may become apparent when discussing the appropriate aims and messages for a CEPA programme. For example: to what extent should our messages accept water pollution as inevitable and accept that a technological solution is acceptable? Should we include technological subjects in a curriculum, or should we aim to persuade people that the application of technology is essentially accepting pollution and its underlying causes, and include in our curriculum tools for social change in place of technology? Understanding of such fundamental differences can be especially helpful when working cross-sectorally or cross-culturally.

23. With educational ideologies the question is, "What is the purpose of education?" ‘Education’ in this sense encompasses all CEPA activity. One scheme suggests the following tripartite framework:

(i) education exists to prepare the individual for work;
(ii) education exists to develop the individual for life; and
(iii) education exists to contribute to social change in favour of more just and equitable societies.
(Kemmis, Cole & Suggett, 1983, cit. Fien, 1993)

24. This is relevant to the current context when the aim is to agree the goals of a CEPA activity or include certain values within the text of materials. For example, what should be included in the development of formal education curricula? In line with (i) traditional subjects that teach about technology and modern systems of resource extraction might be included. Part (iii) implies that current social systems are not a success because they are producing and perpetuating injustices (for example, lack of access to clean water). Many individuals and texts make strong connections between, for example, poverty and environmental condition. This third view of education, therefore, would lead us to include skills for social change in the curriculum.

Four educational tendencies
25. The framework in Box 5 (developed initially in relation to university adult education) may help to clarify the long-term aims (vision) of a programme or assess current CEPA activities.

Box 5: Four educational tendencies
Education is Cut off from life Integrated with life
Not aimed at changing the socio-cultural and politico-economic environment TENDENCY 1




Aimed at changing the socio-cultural and politico-economic environment TENDENCY 3

‘Professional education’



Tendency 1-type CEPA would accept and take place within the existing socio-cultural and politico-economic and political context. It would not connect directly or practically with the world around the learners.
Tendency 2-type CEPA would prepare learners to become a contributing part of the existing socio-cultural and politico-economic situation.
Tendencies 3 and 4 share more radical aims: they would prepare individuals to be agents of change to the existing socio-cultural and politico-economic environment.
Tendency 3-type CEPA would train professionals to act as external expert change agents, assisting with making changes to other people’s socio-cultural and politico-economic context.
Tendency 4-type CEPA would enable learners to be the agents of change in their own contexts.

(Taken directly from Mayo, 1997)

Education ‘about’ , ‘through’ and ‘for’ the environment

26. The following framework for environmental education has been adopted and developed for many different contexts. It may be helpful for assessing the goals and approaches of current or planned CEPA programmes.

  • Education ‘about’ the environment is a common form of environmental education. It provides knowledge of environmental systems and of those social and political systems which influence environmental decision-making.
  • Education ‘through’ the environment is based on the notion that learning from experience is more powerful than learning in a detached, academic, way. It involves the learners experiencing the environments, systems and associated issues on which they are focusing. It is potentially a reforming education.
  • Education ‘for’ the environment incorporates and builds on education ‘about’ and ‘through’ the environment, but its aims are more radical. It does not accept current dominant values. It educates learners to critique their own values and to be agents of the social changes necessary to address environmental issues. It is a potentially transforming education.

Education ‘about’, ‘for’ and ‘as’ development

27. Views of development vary hugely, not only in different parts of the world but also within countries and this can result in significant difficulties in agreeing the content and purpose of a CEPA programme. It may help to clarify the goals and approaches of a wetland CEPA programme in development education terms using the following three-part framework :

  • Education ‘about’ development will result in learners having knowledge and understanding about the issues of development. It is likely to include ‘North-South’ content dichotomies. It is unlikely to bring about any major changes in attitude.
  • Education ‘for’ development will be more likely to produce motivated individuals, with moderately changed attitudes and some significant changes to their lifestyles.
  • Education ‘as’ development will produce informed, motivated and skilled individuals who will change their lifestyles completely as a result of deep attitudinal changes. There will be no ‘North-South’ content.
  • (Downs, 1992)

28. In addition to conceptual ambiguities, similar comments can be made about many words that are commonly used in connection with wetland CEPA. The absolute meaning adopted is less important than the clarity and agreement of a meaning, and its distinction from other terms. It is also important to question the meaning when others use these terms. The Glossary offers interpretations of a selection of important, frequently-used, terms.

Go to Chapters 3, 4 and 5

Return to the CEPA Programme index page

For further information about the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, please contact the Ramsar Convention Bureau, Rue Mauverney 28, CH-1196 Gland, Switzerland (tel +41 22 999 0170, fax +41 22 999 0169, e-mail Posted 16 April 2001, updated 8 January 2006, Sandra Hails, Ramsar.

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