Environmental Education at NBI

To use the gardens and resources of the NBI to inspire and enable people to take responsibility for the environment

[Aims] [Policy] [Outcomes]

The indigenous plant resources of South Africa are an important focus in the process of building a culture of environmental knowledge and awareness. The NBI therefore regards the development of an effective and vibrant environmental education and interpretation programme as a priority.

The environmental educational programmes are offered in the following national Botanical Gardens:

The NBI has based its mandate to offer environmental education programmes on the following:

  • International environmental policies, including Agenda 21 and the Convention on Biological Diversity
  • The Constitution of South Africa
  • The White Papers on Education and Training and Environmental Management Policy
  • The NBI’s Employment Equity and Transformation Policies

Our commitment to the above is reflected in the Mission and Aims of our education and interpretation programmes.


  1. To develop effective environmental education and interpretation programmes which respond to international and national environmental policies and legislation e.g. Agenda 21, CBD, etc.
  2. To make the gardens more educationally relevant and accessible to all teachers and learners, particularly those who in the past did not have the opportunity to visit
  3. To contribute to transformation in education through our programmes and networks
  4. To promote the education value of indigenous gardens in schools
  5. To ensure effective communication and networking within the NBI, between education and other directorates, and between the NBI and the public and others involved in environmental education
  6. To contribute to the transformation process by appointing staff from previously disadvantaged groups wherever possible, and providing support and mentorship to enable staff to develop to their full potential

Policy Statements

Agenda 21
Chapter 36: Education, Training and Public Awareness

  • Make environment and development education available to people of all ages
  • Work environment and development concepts into all educational programmes with analyses of the causes of major issues
  • Bring indigenous people’s experience and understanding of sustainable development into education and training

Convention on Biological Diversity
Article 13: Public Education and Awareness

The contracting parties shall:

  • Promote and encourage understanding of the importance of, and measures required for, the conservation of biological diversity, as well as inclusion of these topics in educational programmes
  • Co-operate, as appropriate, with other States and international organisations in developing educational and public awareness programmes with respect to conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity.

South African Bill of Rights
Article 24: Environment

Everyone has the right:

  • To an environment that is not harmful to their health or well being
  • To have the environment protected for the benefit of present and future generations

White Paper on Education and Training
Chapter 24: Environment

20: Environmental education, involving an interdisciplinary, integrated and active approach to learning, must be a vital element of all levels and programmes of the education and training system, in order to create environmentally literate and active citizens and to ensure that all South African citizens, present and future, enjoy a decent quality of life through the sustainable use of resources.

White Paper on Environmental Management Policy
Goal 5: Environmental Education & Empowerment

Promote the education and empowerment of South Africa’s people. Increase their awareness of and concern for environmental issues, and assist in developing the knowledge, skills, values and commitment necessary to achieve sustainable development.


In order to achieve its aims, the NBI Environmental Education Programme will be guided by the principles of Education for Sustainability which are contained in the above policies. Education for Sustainability promotes both ecological sustainability and social justice.

Appropriate objectives and methods will include:

  • promoting an understanding of the holistic nature of the environment, which is characterised by interrelationships between economic, social, cultural, ecological and political issues in local, national and global spheres
  • interdisciplinary, integrated and active approaches to education
  • developing environmental knowledge and understanding of concepts
  • developing skills such as analysis of environmental issues
  • promoting environmental values, including a respect for indigenous knowledge systems
  • creating opportunities for people to take action to address environmental issues


The NBI EE Programme is inspired by a vision of an environmentally literate and active population working towards the following outcomes in society:

  • sustainable living
  • a healthy environment
  • conservation of natural resources
  • environmental protection and stewardship
  • responsible development.
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