Background of Environmental Education in Mexico
The first records of environmental education in Mexico began in the 1970s with some isolated efforts by government institutions and several independent projects by non-governmental organizations.
In 1990, the National Institute of Ecology was formed with some training functions in environmental protection. Subsequently, in 1995, the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Fisheries (SEMARNAT) was created at the federal level, which formed the Center for Education and Training for Sustainable Development (CECADESU). This agency remains responsible for formulating, directing and coordinating the education, training and communication processes for sustainable development in Mexico.
The “Decade of Education for Sustainable Development” (2005-2014) was a decisive boost for Mexico to place education for sustainability as the axis of transversal environmental public policies, managed by the National Commitment of the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development starting on March 11, 2005.
Thanks to these actions, environmental education became relevant in Mexico incorporating environmental issues into teacher education and training programs. During this decade, a strategy for environmental Education for sustainable development in Mexico was created to strengthen state’s plans for environmental education.
Constitutional amendment to article 3 incorporating environmental education
Nearly thirty years after the first efforts to establish environmental education in Mexico, in 2019 a constitutional amendment was incorporated making environmental education mandatory. Likewise, the General Education laws were issued including environmental education as one of the pillars of education in Mexico.
The development of the mentioned laws included the involvement of NGOs with relevant environmental education experience in Mexico. Participating NGOs included Telar Social México (TSMx), which co-created the Sostenibildad_Mx strategy driving and articulating actions to raise the environmental education debate towards a profound and sustainable social change. During this process, various reform initiatives were submitted without achieving much progress.
In 2016, Telar Social México, in alliance with The Hunger Project México (THP), Reforestamos México, Reeduca and Mexicanos Primero, among others, joined efforts to promote an environmental education initiative signed during the presidential election citizen summit in 2018 by all presidential candidates.
In November 2018, during the EarthxMexico 2018 event, a broader group of NGOs, integrated by Telar Social México, THP, Fundación EDUCA, Fundación Reversible, Alianza México sin Plástico, Cíclica, Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda, Fondo Mexicano para la Conservación de la Naturaleza (FMCN), Pro Natura, Reeduca, Universidad del Medio Ambiente, and other NGOs and universities, launched the Chapultepec Commitments. This initiative included filing a motion with the Mexican Congress to include environmental education as a fundamental part of the national education system by means of amending Article 3 of the Constitution.
In December 2018, the Secretary of Public Education in Mexico established among the axes of the education plan “the obligation to include respect for the environment into the education curriculum as part of the foundations for a comprehensive training of future Mexican generations.”
In May 2019, in an unprecedented milestone, Federal government announced that, for the first time in Mexico, Environmental Education became mandatory in Article 3 of the Constitution as a historical achievement.
In August and September 2019, this same group of NGOs participated with the Ministry of Public Education and the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) to incorporate environmental education into the General Education laws. This group of organizations evolved to become the collective promoting the initiative known as “Worldwide Environmental Education” described in this document.
Background of Environmental Education