Science for Education Today, 2022, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 136–150

Environmental education and its contribution to sustainable cities

De Iulio R. 1 (Rome, Italian Republic), De Martino M. 2 (Moscow, Russian Federation), Isidori E. 3 (Rome, Italian Republic)
1 LUMSA University
2 RUDN University
3 Foro Italico University of Rome

Introduction. In 2050, the human population will reach 9.7 billion people, and more than 5 billion will live in urban areas. Anthropic pressure on natural ecosystems has been progressively increasing, and it has reached worrying levels with severe economic and social repercussions. From an ecological point of view, cities act as a hetero-trophic system. They import raw materials, transform them, and dispose their waste, mostly in faraway places. Therefore, the city is an unbalanced system needing more and more rural spaces which are functional for finding resources to continue developing and progressing. This article highlights the importance of environmental education in sustainable city building processes in South European cities.
Materials and Methods. As the European Union has intensified its engagement in sustainable cities, only cities awarded by European green capitals were included. Cities from North Europe have been excluded since environmental education has been developed previously. The methodology used in this analysis is the case study.
Results. Environmental education is a process that allows people to learn about environmental issues, solve problems, and take action to help the environment. Two cities were included in the analysis: Nantes and Lisbon. Nantes' strategy was to draw attention to the housing problem, improve urban life quality and active participation of citizens in future community choices. Lisbon planned to increase soft mobility, construct new bike paths, and improve the public transport network.
Conclusions. The analysis of the two cities, conducted by a comparative methodology, shows the potential intervention areas and indicates how environmental education contributes to a sustainable city. Together, Nantes and Lisbon applied an environmental education strategy based on citizens' participation, involvement, and education. Similar strategies are recommended for the future development of more sustainable cities.
Environmental education contributes to the city's sustainable development, promoting awareness among people of ecological problems. At the same time, it stimulates the growth of operational skills, such as a sense of initiative and the ability to assume and take responsibility.


Ecosystem; Sustainability; Sustainable city; Education; Environment; Europe, European Union.

For citation:
De Iulio R., De Martino M., Isidori E. Environmental education and its contribution to sustainable cities. Science for Education Today, 2022, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 136–150. DOI:
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Date of the publication 30.04.2022