Trinidad and Tobago is the southernmost island in the Caribbean with approximately 1.4 million people, and is the land of steelpan, calypso, soca and the carnival. Although the country does not have a national organization specifically for the advancement of environmental education, there are a number of NGOs and civil society organisations who continue to do the work in their respective fields.
Policy & Practice
Trinidad and Tobago’s National Environmental Policy (2018) prioritizes environmental education under Priority 5 (Fostering an environmentally responsible society), Section 2.20 (Communication, Education and Public Participation). This section “recognises that empowering individuals to undertake environmentally responsible behaviour also requires systemic reinforcement of pro-environmental behaviours and knowledge,” which “entails continuous environmental education and public participation in environmental decision-making” (pg. 32). The policy also notes that “all environmental education in Trinidad and Tobago is in keeping with the goals, objectives and characterisations contained in the Belgrade Charter (1975), the Tbilisi Declaration (1977) and Chapter 36 or Agenda 21 (1992)” (pg. 32). Section 2.20 also lists the government’s commitment in this area, including promotion of environmental education from pre-school through adulthood, integrating sustainable development concepts into curricula, and ensuring all such efforts “encourage and facilitate the inclusion of marginalised groups such as indigenous peoples, the rural poor, children, youth, women, sick, disabled and elderly” (pg. 33).
EE in K-12 Education
Although there is no specific mention of environmental education in national curricula, the education system is said to be designed the principles of a “new Caribbean citizen of the twenty-first century,” as outlined at the 1997 Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads of Government Summit. Among other qualities of a “twenty-first century Caribbean citizen,” the list includes to “be aware of the importance of living in harmony with the environment” (National Early Childhood Care & Education curriculum, pg. 31).
There is no certification program for environmental educators in Trinidad and Tobago, however environmental education professionals have taken opportunities to become certified through US-based groups, such as the Colorado Alliance for Environmental Educators.
EE in National Government
The Ministry of Planning and Development is responsible for environmental issues in the country, and the Environmental Management Authority initiates most environmental education efforts.
Civil Society organizations generally access funding to further their work mainly locally from the Green Fund. It is a national environmental fund of Trinidad and Tobago which is capitalized by a levy on the private sector and makes financial resources available to eligible organizations.
Funding is also obtained from the United National Development Programme Small Grants programme through the Global Environmental Facility and JB Fernandes Award. These are also open to civil society organizations only and not registered for profit or Limited Liability Companies.
See below for a number of state agencies who implement environmental education initiatives:
- Environmental Management Authority Education Unit – conservation education, sensitive areas
- Solid Waste Management Company's Public Education Unit – waste education
National EE Campaigns and Funding
Many environmental education activities are funded through the Green Fund, international funding, or fundraising through the sale of products and/or services. The Green Fund is a government-funded initiative that funds conservation, restoration, and remediation activities through non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and community-based organizations.
Environmental education is certainly growing in Trinidad and Tobago, however there is not currently a regulating or governing body to allow professionals to connect, network, train, and becoming certified in the field. See below for a number of NGOs who implement environmental education initiatives:
- Whyfarm – teaches agriculture for children, using a comic book/superhero strategy to reach kids
- Nature Seekers – leatherback sea turtle conservation
- Fondes Amandes Community Reforestation Project – reforestation and forest conservation
- Green Screen Film festival – use of film to bring awareness to environmental issues
- International Year of the Reef – coral reef conservation
- Marine Environment Education Programme in Trinidad and Tobago – marine litter and education
- Environment Tobago
- Environmental Research Institute Charlotteville
- Siel Environmental Services Limited – social enterprise promoting waste efficiency & education
- Transforming Environmental Education Successfully (T.E.E.S) – works to create a sustainable school model in Trinidad and Tobago