Formulating and implementing environmental policies and programmes demands a broad range of environmental skills and knowledge.
This strategy features in the framework of Agenda 21 as formulated at UNCED (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), now coordinated by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and implemented through national and local authorities.
Agenda 21 recommends that:
(a) environmentally focused training activities in sustainable land resources planning and management should be undertaken in all countries, with developing countries being given assistance through international support and funding agencies;
(b) governments at the appropriate level, and with the support of the relevant international and regional organizations, should promote members of local rural organizations and train and appoint more extension officers working at the local level;
(c) regional and international economic organizations and non-governmental research institutes with expertise in this area should be encouraged to provide training sessions and seminars for government officials.
High level training of specialists includes among others, the training of energy specialists at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory in the US. The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) established the Industry Advisory Group on Environmental Education which developed the Learning and Environmental Action Programme (LEAP). LEAP improves existing corporate environmental activities, internal company training and external environmental training. The World Industry Council on Environment, has a working group on education and training which promotes LEAP and cooperates with AIESEC.
Two recent examples of government action on environmental education are the [US National Environment Education Act] and the [National Strategy for Environmental Education] produced by Finland's National Commission for UNESCO. The European Community Programme for Education and Training in Technology (COMETT) promotes the exchange of students, recent graduates and staff from higher education with enterprise personnel from industry to facilitate exchange of experience and mutual expertise, particularly in advanced technologies. COMETT is working to develop a European network of University-Enterprise Training Partnerships (UETPs) at the regional and transnational level. COMETT is planning at least 25,000 transnational exchanges, primarily student placements, funding 5,000 courses (150,000 people), and helping the continuing training of employees and graduates.
At the international organization level, various UN agencies and departments such as the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the International Labour Organization (ILO) among others, are working on international environmental education. In 1975, the International Environmental Education Programme (UNESCO and UNEP) was launched, and since then has operated in 160 countries, distributed educational materials to more than 150,000 institutions and individuals, contributed to the training of more than 30,000 key personnel, and helped prepare national environmental education strategies in 12 countries. UNESCO and UNEP have facilitated training of environmental specialist, particularly through the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) project, the International Geological Correlation Programme, the International Hydrological Programme, the International Oceanographic Commission and the Programme on Natural Hazards. In ten years UNEP has trained over 10,000 professionals and specialists from developing countries, particularly through the Oceans and Coastal Areas Programme Activity Centre, the Programme on Desertification Control, and INFOTERRA. The International Register of Potentially Toxic Chemicals (IRPTC) also offers training. UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), has formed an international network of centres of excellence on resource evaluation and environmental management programmes.