Story | 17 Jul, 2023

CEC Regional Vice Chair for South America models conservation actions that build communities

The Commission on Education and Communication (CEC) celebrates the 25-year of work developed by Luis Camargo, CEC Regional Vice Chair for South America, as Founder and Director of the Organization for Environmental Education and Protection (OpEPA) modeling conservation actions that build peaceful and regenerative communities.

content hero image
Photo: OpEPA

25-year of planting educational seeds for growing interconnected and interrelated beings with their environment allows Luis Camargo, CEC Regional Vice Chair for South America, harvesting recognition for expanding an educational model that connects people with nature. In his role as General Director of the Organization for Environmental Education and Protection (OpEPA), Luis has been recently recognized as a 2023 WISE Award finalist and 2023 Richard Louv Prize awardee.

OpEPA focuses on a nature based education approach that reconnects people to the Earth, awakens the naturalist spirit, and activates regenerative leadership and action; allowing them to learn and then to act directly in their surroundings to have a positive impact on the planet. The methodologies used involve including nature as a learning environment, a teacher, and a source of wisdom. Integrating urban green areas and wilderness areas as a learning environments, where collaborative conservation projects are designed and implemented. Through nature-based education OpEPA supports nature conservation using a holistic approach that involves exploration, awe, magic, learning, realization and action.

"We are creating a replicable model for any city in Latin America and the world, which allows transforming traditional education towards Nature Based Education” says Luis Camargo.

Reconnecting children and youth to nature

In the hi-tech environment children are growing up, balancing screens with nature is fundamental, Luis’s work has been at the forefront of making nature a big part of education. Using a holistic approach to learning activate students' regenerative capacities. By creating integral learning experiences (academic/knowledge, sensory/direct experience, and reflective/emotional)  students start exploring, discovering, realizing and embodying their interconnected and interrelated natural self.

The Nature-Based Education Network is an example of this work, a collaborative network with active collaboration between educational institutions that promotes the appropriation of the ecosystem through Nature Based Education. Collaborative networks encourage respect for diverse ways of thinking, bonds of trust, teamwork, and self-organization, leading to more just and sustainable communities and societies. By involving many students from different socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds, the Network promotes equity and inclusion while developing environmental stewardship skills of students and communities. Additionally, this approach allows to start building the idea of cities of learning.

Call to action

OpEPA also provides tools to public and private schools for the articulation, strengthening, visibility, and implementation of School Environmental Projects or other educational projects aimed at the conservation, appropriation, and sustainable use of the ecosystem services that each area -where the project is implemented- provides. In addition to their educational efforts, OpEPA also works to advance the shift towards regeneration in individuals, institutions, and public policy. This includes initiatives such as sustainable and regenerative tourism, transitioning to regenerative cultures, and addressing planetary boundaries challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss, ecosystems, soil quality, and water management.

Find manuals, tools, resources, courses and trainings for building capacities of key audiences in order to support transformative changes that drive people to act in their website.