Information sharing and collaboration are inherent elements of environmental learning (EL). Serious engagement in today’s environmental challenges is significantly enhanced by working relationships and partnerships. Networks facilitate relationship building, collaboration, and the exploration/mobilization of a range of perspectives and ideas. Within the multifaceted field of EL, activities are typically handled in isolation, within one or a few sectors. A means for regular communication and exchange of information within and between sectors provides opportunities for collaboration and ensures resources are used effectively.

gpocean_014In 1990 and 1991, Canadian members of the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) held a series of discussions at the annual NAAEE conferences regarding the need to facilitate communication and information sharing within Canadian EL. A survey and feasibility study were subsequently conducted to determine the level of interest in creating a Canadian EL network. The results were virtually unanimous and the need for an EL network was clear. Establishing a highly visible, national EL network was seen as a fundamental tool to facilitate the development and dissemination of guidelines for excellence in the field and maximize opportunities to build synergies and ultimately make EL more successful in Canada.

In October 1992, a meeting of Canadian EL stakeholders was convened as part of the World Congress for Education and Communication on Environment and Development in Toronto. Discussions initiated at this meeting resulted in the formation of a committee of volunteers who agreed to work towards establishing a national organization and in 1993 the Canadian Network for Environmental Education and Communication (EECOM) was created. Under the stewardship of a volunteer steering committee, a provisional Mission Statement was adopted, and work began on attracting members. In May 1995, the first EECOM annual meeting was held, and the first formal Steering Committee elected. For the past several decades, EECOM has continued to grow and develop its mandate and membership base. The organization is now widely recognized as a leading Canadian EL organization with an established history of leadership.