Does environmental education benefit children and adolescents?

Environmental education is an effective way to improve a range of environmental outcomes, such as knowledge about the environment and intentions to act pro-environmentally. This was shown by a recent meta-analysis comprising insights of five decades of research on environmental education for children and adolescents. Environmental education refers to any program that provides children and adolescents with information or training to improve their environmental outcomes. Outcomes that are positively affected by this sort of education are factual knowledge about ecology and climate, environmental attitudes (e.g. the importance of environmental sustainability) and environmental intentions (the willingness to engage in pro-environmental behavior). Beyond attitudes and intentions, even children’s and adolescent’s environmental behavior is positively influenced by environmental education programs. These effects can be found for diverse student populations of different ages.

Environmental education is thus a promising approach to improve knowledge, attitude, intentions and behaviors of young people, helping them to develop into environmentally aware and engaged actors.

van de Wetering, J., Leijten, P., Spitzer, J., & Thomaes, S. (2022). Does environmental education benefit environmental outcomes in children and adolescents? A meta-analysis. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 101782.