Environmental Education and Public Awareness in Georgia are tightly linked with the last developments taking place within the territory of the Former Soviet Union. There was no Environmental Education and Public Awareness here, including Georgia, before the Perestroika. Some elements of Environmental Education and Public Awareness could be found in school curricula or newspaper publications, however, all these were under very strong press of Soviet ideology and, therefore, carried wrong information and wrong bearings. On the other hand, starting from the times of Perestroika, when liberalisation has really begun and Georgia gained its independence, the Green Movement was established and grew rapidly.
Today environmental issues remain to be popular and often we witness public discussions about them. In other words, we may state that Public Awareness on environmental problems in Georgia has been developed. As to Environmental Education, it is still in the very state of development. The difficulties facing by Environmental Education in Georgia may be the absence of experience and traditions, the old stereotyped public mentality, recently past acute political and economical crisis that made environmental issues less appreciable.
Nevertheless, highly active green movement and the first steps towards democratisation have paved the way for the introduction of professionals-based Environmental Education in Georgia. This was initiated in early 90s after local enthusiasts have found contacts with international organisations (ISAR, WWF).
From 1994 ISAR completed an effective small grants' program addressed to the development of environmentally oriented non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Many of NGOs, now active in Environmental Education and Public Awareness, were established and developed owing to this program (Gaia, Humeco, Vita-Centre, NACRES, Green Wave, Udabno, Elkana, Green Cross, Energy Effectiveness Foundation, Environmental Biomonitoring Association, etc.). These NGOs now work independently and collaborate with international foundations and agencies (OSGF, Eurasia Foundation, TACIS, etc.).
A large-scale Environmental Education program is run by the WWF Office in Georgia. This program includes training of environmental educators through special courses organised in Western Centres, e.g., Certificate Course in Environmental Education (CCEE) at Jordanhill College, Strathclyde University, Glasgow, UK. 10 Georgian attended this course and many of them are already certified. Other important blocks of the pointed program are: establishment of Environmental Education centres in Georgia, teachers training and up-grading, publications, organising summer schools, etc.
Local NGOs also contribute to Environmental Education in Georgia. NGO "Gaia" may be a good example of such contribution, as its principal type of activity is participation in public education. "Gaia" has over 50 members, however about 12 persons make up the active core. They are the founders of "Gaia" and take part in its work, including presenting and creating projects. They guide training courses for teachers, design curricula, perform organisational work, look for and find supporters and propagate the ideas of democratic society and sustainable development.
Following projects were completed by the members of "Gaia".
Other projects concern with the organisation of workshops for school administrators, the introduction of ideas of sustainable development into teaching of English language in elementary and secondary classes, as well as introduction of these ideas within different subjects at different stages of teaching. These projects were supported by WWF.
Larger projects completed by "Gaia" are:
We hope very much that our contacts with people holding the same views and ideas will substantially support the attempts of "Gaia" to help Georgia in its transition from the Soviet system to an independent and more democratic nation, in bringing Georgia toward a consciousness of the interconnectedness of our planet, humans and environment.