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Ambiente & Sociedade

versão impressa ISSN 1414-753Xversão On-line ISSN 1809-4422

Ambient. soc. vol.21  São Paulo  2018  Epub 08-Out-2018 

Original Article




1. Semíramis Biasoli. B.A. in Law and Social Sciences, Ph.D. in Public Environmental Education Policies from ESALQ/USP, researcher at OCA - Laboratory of Education and Environmental Policies at ESALQ/USP and General Secretary for FunBEA - Brazilian Environmental Education Fund. E-mail:

2. Marcos Sorrentino. B.S. in Biology (1981), B.A. in Pedagogy (1984) and M.A. in Education (1988) from the Federal University of São Carlos. Ph.D. in Education (1995) and post-doctoral training in the Department of Social Psychology of the University of São Paulo (1999) and at the Sustainable Development Center of the University of Brasília (2010). Faculty member in the Department of Forest Sciences, in the field of Education and Environmental Policies, as an Associate Professor (2011), presently coordinating the Laboratory of Education and Environmental Policies (OCA) at ESALQ/USP. E-mail:


Environmental education needs to be molded as a structuring public policy, in addition to specific projects and programs in order to gain effectiveness in combating the socio-environmental and civilizational crisis. This demands the unveiling of the concept of public policies, which is the purpose of this study. The concept of multi-center public policies, as a result of government and other social players’ action, is used here. The results in the literature establish the need for three dimensions involved in the cycle of public policies presented by Frey: policy, polity and politics and, in this study, the essentiality of a fourth dimension is considered: that of everyday politics, which is related to instituting social forces and their importance in the construction of public policies intended to be participatory.

Key words : Environmental education; Public policies; Everyday politics


La educación ambiental debe ser abordado como una politica publica además de los proyectos y programas específicos para ganar eficacia en la lucha contra la crisis ambiental y la civilización. Esto exige la presentación del concepto de objetivo de política publica de este trabajo. Aprueba el concepto de orden público multicéntrico, como resultado de la acción del gobierno y otros actores sociales. Los resultados de la literatura establecen la necesidad de tres dimensiones que intervienen en el ciclo de las políticas publicas presentadas por Frey: la policy, la polity y la politcs y este llamados por la esencialidad de una cuarta dimensión : la política diaria , que está relacionada con la institución de las fuerzas sociales y su importancia en la construcción de políticas públicas que se han previsto participativa .

Palabras-clave : Educación ambiental; Orden público; Política cotidiana


A educação ambiental precisa ser trabalhada enquanto política pública estruturante, além de projetos e programas pontuais, para ganhar efetividade no enfrentamento da crise socioambiental e civilizatória. Isto demanda o desvelamento do conceito de políticas públicas, objetivo deste trabalho. Adota-se o conceito de política pública multicêntrica, como resultado da ação do governo e de outros atores sociais. Os resultados do levantamento bibliográfico estabelecem a necessidade de três dimensões presentes no ciclo das políticas públicas apresentadas por Frey: policy, polity e politics e, neste trabalho, defende-se a essencialidade de uma quarta dimensão: a da política do cotidiano, que está relacionada às forças sociais instituintes e sua importância na construção de políticas públicas que se pretendam participativas.

Palavras-chave : Educação Ambiental; Políticas Públicas; Política do cotidiano


At the end of the century, the only realistic utopia is the ecological and democratic utopia. It is realistic because it is based on a principle of reality that is increasingly shared and, therefore, has the virtues which Gramsci found to be essential in the construction of hegemonic ideas (...). On the other hand, ecological utopia is utopic because its realization presupposes the global transformation not only of modes of production, but also of scientific knowledge, frameworks of life, forms of sociability and symbolic universes, and presupposes, above all else, a new paradigmatic relationship with nature that will replace the modern paradigmatic relationship. It is a democratic utopia because the transformation to which it aspires presupposes the re-politicization of reality and the radical exercise of individual and collective citizenship, including in it the chart of nature’s human rights. It is a chaotic utopia because it does not have a privileged historical subject. Its protagonists are all those who, in the different constellations of power that constitute social practices, are aware of the fact that their lives are more conditioned by the power that others exercise over them than by the power they exert on others”.

Boaventura de Sousa Santos3

The article departs from the issue related to the socio-environmental and civilizational crisis, and anchors against the hegemonic narrative of a civilizational model whose structuring factors are the technical and scientific expansion; prioritization of profit, the individual and the private and, therefore, of the assumptions made by the developmental ideal.

In order to act against this, there are four dimensions that need to be articulated in public policies committed to improving the environment, the quality of life and the existential conditions of humans and non-humans: the policy dimension or dimension of the contents of public policies; the polity dimension or spatial dimension of institutions and structures; and the politics dimension or dimension of players and political processes, as presented by Frey (2000, p.216), in addition to the authors’ defense, of the necessary inclusion of the dimension of everyday politics, which demarcates a conceptual style of making politics from the perspective of instituting social forces.

The reality is that today’s challenges are immense. Among other predictions, those related to climate change are aggravated, as such changes are the result of various factors, namely the oil energy matrix, increase in greenhouse gases, agrobiodiversity reduction, water contamination and decrease and destruction of marine life with the resulting increase in spiritual and material poverty and urban, ethnic and animal violence, thus going against the so-called “advancement” of modern scientific logic. Even more disturbing is the universalization of the hegemonic discourse of the western way of thinking, which destroys other forms of thinking and characterizes what Santos (2007, p. 22) calls abysmal thinking.

Santos (2008, p. 321) identifies the basis of the problems we face in four fundamental axioms; i) the hegemony of scientific rationality, with the transformation of ethical and political problems into technical and legal ones; ii) the legitimacy of private property, which promotes possessive individualism, and when articulated with the consumer culture, induces the diversion of social energies with people to the interaction with objects; iii) the State’s sovereignty and the citizens’ vertical political obligation before the State; and iv) the belief in progress as an infinite development, fueled by economic growth and the expansion of relations and technological development.

It so happens that the State and its bureaucracy, when implementing a government project through programs and actions directed to specific sectors of society, are aligned with, both rightist and leftist, current conservative forces, in which ideologies that sustain the needs of capitalist development are found, making it difficult to break the hegemony built by them and for them with knowledge sequestration by a logical political and economic system to the detriment of society and its instituting social forces.

Santos (2002, p. 75) proposes an immense reconstruction of the social gears in order to face the wreckage of integrated globalized capitalism. These are counter-hegemonic globalizationsi based on the principle of the historically weakened community. That is the concept of community, not as a synonym for a geographic locality, but as an “existential concept that organizes people’s relationship to a group and establishes a feeling of common identity and of stimulus to solidarity” (GUSFIELLDii, 1995, apud ALVES ET. AL., 2010, p.10). They are spaces where individuals see themselves and others and construct a collective identity.

The prioritization of the community and collective action does not mean defending the weakening of the State, not even of a State with the Brazilian historical reality, which is constituted by a political system of forces connected to the “owners of power”, against the people or without the people, and does not represent the nation, a historically patrimonial State, as recovered by Faoro (2001, p. 867), because this situation is not resolved by reducing State intervention, but by developing better quality for it.

As reported by Santos (1999, p. 14), this is about the solidary and participative reform of the State. A State that represents the nation, but which is not necessarily a managerial, market- and management-oriented State, or the replacement by the so-called third sector, which also requires the task of a democratic re-foundation after decades of marginalization and colonization, as pointed out by the author (1999, p.8), but rather a state that approximates citizenship.

For Heidemann (2006, p. 498), it would be the prospect of a new polis, with jointly concerned citizens’ guarding the public thing, with different communities that are involved in disalienation, in the search for the limits of the public and the private and for what the public means.

We have adopted the concept of community proposed by Leff (2002) as spaces of cultural identities which legitimize more plural and democratic rules of social co-existence in face of the globalization process, which is ruled by economic rationality and market laws. For the author, a “policy of place”, of differences, of space and time, is emerging, and it values the meaning of utopia as the right of each community to forging its own future. This is the defense of radically democratic and participatory policies

This option for social participation in the construction of public policies finds obstacles with the absence of spaces and material and immaterial conditions that qualify participation and, hence, the necessary dimension of everyday politics in public environmental education policies.

2. The advent of public policies

Heidemann (2009, p. 24) lists four concepts/ideas to talk about the emergence of public policies: progress, development, State and market. Historically, public policies emerge in the first half of the twentieth century, with the advent of the “developmental mindset” that has taken over the Western world, the myth of “progress” meaning steady improvement. The hopes and promises of progress are assumed by the “developmentalist” ideal, with the meaning of establishing a market economy, considering a country’s degree of industrialization as positive and desirable.

Up to that period, the promotion of progress and development was carried out by the forces of a self-regulated market, which depended on the freedom of individuals, with the presence of the so-called minimal State that had no role to play in the economyiii, and since, in that period, there were no public policies to establish limits or condition economic actions, the larger the private space, the less State interference was observed.

This almost absolute freedom of individuals brought problems to the social contract by disregarding the communal (social/collective) dimensions of human life and the political pathways to their solutions

When the market came into crisis as a quasi-exclusive force in the rule of the game of human life between the two great world wars, in addition to the 1929 crisis, the importance of the State increased with the growth of its role in social and economic life.

According to Heidemann (2009, p. 25), States and markets then began to jointly develop the societies, with the emergence of government policies that would later be better understood as public policies. What is important to reinforce in this framework is that public policies are already born in a close relationship between the State and the market. Government action begins to express itself in an indirect and regulatory manner, with the creation of laws, as well as in a direct fashion, with the creation of state-owned enterprises and participation in the economy.

3. The concept of public policies adopted

It can be said that public policies are mainly conceptualized as the set of actions developed by governments (organized groups holding power over state apparatuses), directly or indirectly, that is, which recognizes the protagonism emanated from a state player (DYE, 2009; KINGDON, 2003, p. 8/9; BUCCI, 2006, p. 14; LOPES; AMARAL, 2008, p.17). Dye (2009, p. 105) defines them as “everything that governments decide to do or not to do”. In Law, Bucci (2006) conceptualizes them as a set of programs, actions or articulated measures whose scope consists in moving the machinery of the government towards accomplishing an objective of public order.

According to the “state-centric” approach, what determines whether or not a policy is public is the legal personality of the protagonist player. This centrality of the State is closely linked to the fact that it alone, with its governments, has the legal competence to attribute legitimacy, universality and coercive capacity to the achievement of public policies, and therefore, the role of governments in promoting processes of direct intervention, regulation and contractualism is undeniable.

However, there are more comprehensive interpretations that treat it as a guideline designed to address public problems, containing two fundamental elements: public intentionality and response to a collectively relevant problem. This perspective of what is public and a common asset opens a door to the re-signification of public policies, encompassing the concept of dialectical spaces of conflicts and agreements, involving a series of players and relations. It takes into account that the State, with its governments and with its administrative structure, is not the only institution to serve the community, that is, to promote public policies (HEIDEMANN, 2009, p. 31).

From the perspective of the intentional and shared construction of the future (Tassara and Tassara, 2008, p. 149), Heidemann’s concept of public policy (2009, p. 27) is adopted: “decisions and actions by the government and other social players are known under the generic name of public policies”. Souza (2006, p. 28) and Secchi (2013, p. 2) share that opinion, and the former defines them as a “relative autonomy of the State”, while the latter reinforces the “collectively binding” character in the framework beyond the statist approach.

Secchi (2013, p. 3) refers to this approach involving the existence of multiple decision-making centers as multi-center and considers that its protagonists are private institutions, non-governmental organizations and multilateral organisms together with State players.

The present study follows such multi-center line by broadening the definition of public policies in order to encompass everything related to collective life, and also encompassing any organized civil society initiative that is capable of producing the public asset from the perspective of the common asset.

There is no doubt about the prominence of governments in the establishment of public policies, the so-called government policies, with the monopoly of the use of the legitimate force that provides it with objective superiority and control of a great part of national resources. However, if the government has primacy to create and execute legal instruments, on the other hand, the different social players use and carry out other public policy instruments, such as information, research, campaigns, incentives, provision of services, among others, mainly by means of collective organization.

Thus, the conceptual essence adopted is the public asset or problem that is intended to be regulated, and what matters is not whether the decision maker has a legal state personality or a non-state personality, but rather that which provides collective contours is what will give legitimacy to the adjective public. Sharing the commitment to design structuring public policies, among and with the different forces existing in society, proves to be an effective contribution in the search for solutions for socio-environmental improvement.

4. Structuring public policies and environmental education

Based on the concept of public policies adopted, those identified as structuring are those that are planned and executed on a long-lasting basis, which generate subsidies for the formulation and implementation of other policies, that is, they are comprehensive and articulated with other initiatives; they are structuring because they generate permanent plans and programs and act in the creation and consolidation of administrative and operational instances, thus contributing to monitoring and evaluation.

Their qualitative and quantitative potentials are considered more significant than those achieved by actions that are dispersed and disconnected from other public policies and, because they are public, the concern about universal access is central. According to Morimoto (2014, p. 53):

Structuring public policies consist of a proposal developed with the participation of the community involved, aiming at strengthening it and at the continuity of processes, with the concern about establishing a dialogue with other actions already under way in that territory, guided by the inclusion of the diversity of people, environments and interests, and seeking long-lasting and fair effects.

Speaking of structuring policies in the field of environmental education means bringing the pedagogical perspective to the center and generating training processes that involve different social players. Such players should act in the formulation and implementation of public policies in processes that are capable of making critical and reflexive analyses of sustainability concepts and practices.

It requires the design and implementation of public environmental education policies in a participatory, dialogical and structuring fashion, and points to everyday politics for incorporation of instituting social forces and that contributes to the confrontation of the causes of socio-environmental degradation, outlining strategies to act in the transition to sustainable societies.

5. The dimensions of public policies

The analytical tools and the vocabulary adoptediv consider the policy cycle, such as the temporal dimension that involves the process and phases of design and implementation of public policies.

The number of steps depends on the level of detail and authors used (SARAIVA; FERRARESI, 2006, p. 32), but in general, at least three are pointed out: formulation, implementation and evaluation.

Heidemann (2009, p. 34) points out four stages, separating them into: i) decision making, identification of the problem and inclusion on the agenda, ii) design with formulation of alternatives; iii) implementation, or moment to put into practice plans, programs and projects commissioned in the previous phase in order to meet demands; iv) evaluation, in search of effective results. For Frey (2000, p. 226), evaluation aims at investigating the impact deficits and unwanted side effects in order to deduce consequences for future actions and programs.

The policy cycle has a didactic character, but understanding the dynamic, mutant and complex process and its interfaces with the different dimensions is an important element when seeking the implementation of structuring and participatory policies.

The dimensions of the analysis are three, as adopted from Frey (2000, p. 226): 1) content dimension, or policy; 2) spatial dimension, or dimension of institutions, polity; 3) dimension of players and political processes, or politics, to which the fourth dimension is added: 4) everyday politics, related to the instituting forces.

The policy dimension refers to concrete content translated into programs, projects, laws, standards, etc. The importance of content analysis, according to Frey (2000, p. 219), is that in the concrete programs, drawn up by planning agents, the results of political processes, intermediated by institutional structures and reflecting constellations of interests must be considered. They are operative elements, with legal legitimacy, but cannot be considered public policies individually or in isolation.

The second dimension is the polity dimension, which refers to the institutional framework, to the political institutions. It is the spatial dimension, where public policies take place: the political and legal system and the political and administrative structure, composed of formal and variable rules to be analyzed.

The politics dimension, however, refers to the political processes, to the powers at play. It is part of the composition of forces of players who act in the political arena. It is often conflictive in terms of imposing objectives, content and decisions.

All these dimensions intertwine and compose one another. According to Frey (2000, p. 217), they are not independent variables and are present throughout the cycle, where the various phases correspond to a sequence of elements of the process, institutions, power constellations and political networks, that is, of all dimensions.

And here we emphasize the proposal of a fourth dimension which constitutes the structuring and participatory public environmental education policies: everyday politics, related to social organization for individual and collective participation in the public policies, in the political arena. It is related to the pedagogical and subjective components that motivate individual and collective participation in the daily making of politics by instituting social forces.

6. Why the fourth dimension in public environmental education policies

The socio-environmental problem is present in different spaces and discourses: in governments, non-governmental organizations, the media, companies, educational institutions - from school to universities and political parties. Apparently, all are in favor of the environmental agenda; however, socio-environmental degradation increases drastically and on a daily basis.

This pulverization of the players involved with the environmental agenda, or multi-sectoring, was defended as an advancement of the environmental movement by some authors (VIOLA; VIEIRA, 1992, p. 101, VIOLA; BOEIRA, 1992, p. 7, among others). In contrast, Agripa (2003, p. 9) identified the loss of environmentalist radicality with multi-sectorization by claiming that it has brought an economistic discourse that has contributed to the sequestration of fundamental flags of the environmental movement, such as social equity, the fight against hunger and poverty, among many others.

The fact is that there are innumerable and distinct initiatives to confront the socio-environmental and civilizational crisis, with discourses that at times oppose and at times complement one another.

According to Nobre & Amazonas (2002), different political and civilizational ideas are present under the aegis of the sustainable; nevertheless, it is fundamental to understand that the different nomenclatures mean different ideas and positions.

According to Nascimento (2012), the concept of sustainable development, which is historical in the constitution of the environmental arena, has become a field of contention in the sense used by Bourdieu, and has conditioned positions and measures by governments, businessmen, politicians, social movements and multi-lateral organizations. However, according to the author, there are three recurring dimensions on which the concept is anchored: environmental, economic and social, understanding that they are not sufficient, since they leave out the political and cultural dimension.

Advancing in the identification of nomenclatures and their political and ideological differences, there are those who defend the concept of sustainable societies anchored on the pathway of environmental education in Latin America, a pathway of resistance to authoritarian regimes, as well as on the struggle for human rights and strong commitment to democracy by adding the political and cultural dimensions as cross-sectional to the three dimensions of sustainable development.

For Tassara and Ardans (2006, p. 66), the environmental policy designed in a democratic and progressive configuration aims at the intentional and shared construction of the collective social future, of sustainable societies, as opposed to conservative environmental policies, which refer, at the most, to the improvement of the functioning of an already established and consolidated model of social life, identified with established powers and sustainable development.

In spite of this “massification” of the environmental issue, both in the public and in the private space, it is still marginal. In addition, sparse, punctual initiatives, even if valuable and promoting improvements, remain unresolved to the demands from emancipatory environmentalist ideas for great social, political and environmental transformations that have been present since the early days of the environmental movement.

Several ways are pointed out for reversing the crisis. Among them, critical environmental education emerges as a central field and a response to challenges, whether within the government, universities, companies, NGOs, schools or among citizens. However, coping with the problem must take place not only with individualized actions or punctual projects, nor only by teaching ecologically correct behaviors, but rather, in a critical fashion, as structuring, radically democratic, participatory, dialogic and communicative public policies and that, therefore, or on principle, are interrelating with other theoretical and practical themes and fields materialized in the daily life of the instituting forces.

It is argued that environmental education from a progressive perspective points to the transition towards sustainable societies and can contribute to the construction of ideals of common assets, in tune with the radicality of the emancipatory environmentalist flags.

What is defended as a common asset? Is the public common? According to the politics dictionary (BOBBIO, 1998, p.106), it is a value that individuals can only pursue together, with cooperative actions, aiming at a collective welfare that is different from the sum of individual assets.

For Negri and Hardt (2014), the common is associated with the principles of equality, freedom and sustainability. They are based on mutual learning, on the search for horizontal societies, on the insistence for democracy on all levels, “it is more than a virtue, but a key to its power” (NEGRI; HARDT, 2014, p. 75).

Starting from two questions: the transition from public to common ownership and from state control to democratic self-management, the question of the common asset is closely related to governance processes, with multiple points of entry and cooperative or antagonistic relationships with governments (or both simultaneously) and, therefore, closely related to the insurgent social forces.

Hence, contribution is given to the transformation of government mechanisms in governance processes involving different social players, and thus the decisions about the common (and not public, in the sense of legitimacy of State institutions) are made through democratic, effective, day-to-day participation, not just by means of elected representatives and experts.

Some consider that the State alone can manage common assets and offer the demanded services satisfactorily by betting on statist public policies; others condemn public bureaucracy, and in defense of the market, they defend the private ways to ensure public assets.

Here, the bet is on public policies designed in and for autonomy, empowerment and a multiplicity of actors, on shared decision-making, which, according to Salm (2009), is co-produced in a network composed of community instances that comprise the society and not in an omnipresent State that is historically corporate and subject to the variables that make up government management and its political and partisan priorities.

Talking about shared decision-making and, therefore, about the strengthening of the instituting forces that make up the dimension of everyday politics requires participation, and Salm (2010, p. 4) warns about some obstacles to the effective participation and co-production of public assets: the size of social systems, technologies that are increasingly complex and difficult to understand, time and urgency that require many decisions, in addition to the political apathy present in the mass society.

Heidemann (2009, p. 31) argues that the State’s inability to fulfill its functions of constructing public assets in a satisfactory fashion has made other players see, in their involvement with the co-production of public assets, a possibility for solutions: base articulations with the emergence of other players who can share with the State territorialized projects in the search for public assets to become common assets.

It is in this perspective that the inclusion of everyday politics is defended, since it is the dimension related to the instituting forces, here understood as the forces coming from the base, from the set of individuals that unite for joint actions and for common assets. The instituting forces are the materiality in concrete life, and the organization, in everyday life, of the socialization of individuals and groups, as opposed to instituted powers and forces.

Without the instituting forces, public policies can be a dead letter, or a set of facade institutions that do not contribute to the transformation of societies and materialization of emancipatory ideas in the field of environmental education. It does not mean the replacement of the State in its functions, but rather, complementary action, incorporating the different segments of society, in the processes of shared construction, attributing legitimacy to public policies from other players, facing the apparent contradiction between strengthening the State and not depending exclusively on a center that formulates and implements public policies.

Harriss’s signal (2001, p. 27) is significant when arguing that the current discourse of an “organized civil society” and of a “social capital” that advocates participation, empowerment and decentralization as social development paths may mask that these organizations are being allegedly fomented and constituted in an apolitical fashion.

The author argues that the strengthening of organized civil society should not mean weakening the State, and she brings back the valorization of the State and political agencies by defending that public action - understood as the reciprocal action to actions by the State and by the non-State in the arena - can lead to both an expansion of democracy and significant social development.

Therefore, she warns that this is about defending an organized and political civil society that is capable of living in the conflict of ideas and interests and not an apolitical civil society which supports “responsive, responsible and transparent” governments and market policies “that respect its choices”, ideas often seen as progressive although they are deceptively appealing, since they do not bring background questions about the civilizational model.

It is true that these are essential attitudes, however, they must be associated with the radicality of reflection on the model of society that one wants to construct, otherwise there will be no significant changes in the current model, but only the improvement of this established civilizational model and that will eventually support the neoliberal orthodoxy of prioritizing the private to the detriment of the common asset. (HARRISS, 2001, p. 32).

Thus, the bet on the common asset passes through a strong and democratic State and an organized civil society that is politically capable of building collective well-being projects from its different views. It necessarily implies the ability to explain conflicts and then make decisions.

It is the necessary relationship between the instituted and the instituting, understanding that the instituting is not confused with the instituted, and by having its demands and proposals incorporated by the instituted, it brings forth new instituting forces, not plastering itself, but being a permanent open movement, free to accompany the pulsating, daily energy of social forces for the construction of progressive, participatory, inclusive and structuring public policies.

But how can we awaken a critical view by the different players so that they can prioritize and build competencies in order to identify implicit interests and be prepared for participation in political arenas? How can we guarantee the occurrence of concrete spaces of participation throughout the cycle of politics so that certain topics are included as a political agenda? How can we overcome the obstacles repeatedly pointed out, recognizing and understanding the institutional meanders in the effective implementation of public policies? And, even more so, in the implementation of such policies, how can we ensure that they will occur in a participatory manner, with procedural evaluations that will allow constant monitoring and incremental adaptations in their course?

It is necessary to consider the norms and institutions, the construction and viability of concrete contents, the conflicts and negotiations that influence decision making, and in relation to the instituted powers, polity, policy and politics. But for the effectiveness of the process, it is fundamental to consider the subjective motivations of the social actors involved, and here lies the essentiality of the fourth dimension, which is always instituting, continually adapted and always open in the search for political transformations.

In the last few decades, much has been said about the importance of environmental education. Texts and laws have been designed, but the texts do not contemplate goals and strategies that are deployed from their guidelines, and so their realization is not present on a large scale. Hence, there is the need for different players and segments to be present from the formulation to the implementation of laws.

It is known that it is also necessary to participate and lobby, but it is not possible to effectively reach the established powers, the executive, legislative and judicial powers or even the mass media and other institutions that can contribute to the profound cultural changes that the issues in the field of socio-environmental sustainability require.

The field of environmental education has a long history and tradition of mobilization and engagement. But why have we not been able to mobilize to the point of reaching the intended goals? The hypothesis is that political control over institutions or more laws are not enough. Although they are important, it is necessary to improve the capacity to incorporate into everyday politics, thus creating a synergy with the so-called instituting forces; social organization and governance are required.

Demo (2006, p. 39) presents political quality, as the “human ability to constitute a relatively autonomous subject, to participate actively in democracy, to realize individual and collective citizenship, to be able to live in equality and difference”. Such “political quality” is not presently available due to the very pre-existing material and immaterial inequality, either because of lack of access to information, quality of education or, as presented by Chauí (1993: 52) because of the “green-yellow mythology” and passivity existing in light of the historical constitution of the Brazilian State.

On the contrary, what is commonly and historically found is the concept of “political poverty” (DEMO, 2006, p. 44), that is, the inability to know how to think, which prevents individuals from becoming critical and creative, capable of confronting their socio-historical situation. Sorrentino and Nascimento (2010) also point to the precarious training of professionals qualified to act in the formulation and implementation of public policies.

Understanding how obstacles to citizenship and democracy manifest in Brazil, with the different social players’ constitutive tensions and the forces present, requires, in order to confront the socio-environmental problem, pedagogical processes that are capable of making critical analyses of current concepts and practices. It requires dissatisfaction about the socio-environmental issues and the search for strategies of action in light of utopias and nation projects debated with the different players.

The importance of the fourth dimension - everyday politics - resides in this context, complementing the three dimensions proposed by Frey (2000, p. 226), due to the essentiality of bringing instituted-instituting dialogicity that will allow to connect individual and singular actions to the realm of collective concerns and actions of humanity.

The dimension of everyday politics, related to the subjective motivations for individual and collective participation in everyday political practice, seeks an engagement with the radicality that the present moment demands, which will contribute to the qualification of the axis of participation, citizenship and democracy with the political quality necessary to consolidate the emancipatory potential of progressive public policy practices.

There are two ways to go in the everyday daily dimension, without prejudice to others being identified: the pedagogical perspective and participatory planning.

The pedagogical perspective, if present throughout the cycle, contributes with the political quality of processes and people for participation. This way is theoretically based on the concepts of Community, Identity, Dialogue, Power of Action and Happiness (ALVES et al., 2010, p. 9; SORRENTINO et al., 2013, p. 56) in the defense that the set of concepts, and not each one in isolation, contributes to the political and pedagogical basis of environmental educational processes.

The composition of the five concepts starts from the need to work on self-clarification and self-analysis, which provides a greater knowledge about who we are (SORRENTINO; BIASOLI, 2014, p. 40) for involvement with the public thing, the common assets and the promotion of structuring public policies.

The pedagogical dimension throughout the cycle should allow different classes, players and organizations, from their differentiated socio-historical realities, to approach the question of socio-environmental complexity, contributing to the collective emergence of a new political culture.

The second path is methodological: participatory planning that has as a presupposition to create the feeling and practice of citizenship, in the search for material and immaterial needs to be prioritized, dialogued and understood.

The challenge imposed by historical, social, economic and subjective conditions requires the stimulation for new forms of human organization, and for this, when exercising the praxis with participatory planning made with the subjects involved, and not for the subjects, the goal is to ensure communicative processes that allow the disalienation and the “intentional and shared construction of the future” in the directions that the very players involved put themselves.

It is incremental, open, and procedural planning that is monitored, evaluated and adjusted along the way - it is the cooperation that Heidemann (2006, p 498, 2009, 27) presents, in which citizens/organizations, together, care about the public thing, qualifying the meaning of public to common asset.

7. Concluding remarks

We depart from the understanding of public policies as actions by the government and other social players, starting from the resignification of public to common asset. For the central question of sustainability, environmental education needs to be understood as a structuring public policy, since the total sum of punctual and disconnected actions, projects and programs, although valued, contribute little to tackling the problem as a whole.

Brazilian environmental education is recognized by different trends or shades ranging from critical to conservative environmental education, from the popular to the behavioral, and here the position is that environmental education that is capable of operating transformations towards quality of life for all is critical, dialogic, transformative and emancipatory, prioritizing reflective processes on the current civilizational standard imposed on current societies.

Climate change and the erosion of agrobiodiversity are the “tip of the iceberg” of changes in natural systems, with strong negative consequences for immense portions of humanity, especially for disadvantaged social classes. Likewise, everyday prejudices and violence against people, social groups, living and non-living beings are causes and effects of a civilizing malaise that demands deep and long-lasting answers.

The State, the market and society in general have been presenting initiatives to confront the destruction of the planet and the lives of those who inhabit it, with different goals and hopes, but not every initiative by large business and financial corporations, governments and individuals and isolated organizations is able to face the deepest causes of this problem. It is necessary to critically analyze the hegemonic foundations of human organization forms, and the search for new paths in this direction is urgent.

We defend here the path of radically democratic and participatory public policies that take account of advancing in the direction of sustainable societies. However, when establishing the option for participating in the construction of public policies, there is a new obstacle, which is the fragility of the instituting social forces that do not find spaces or material and immaterial conditions to guarantee such participation, and hence the necessary explanation of the dimension of everyday politics in public policies.

Thinking and proposing that environmental education be exercised as a structuring public policy and in the four dimensions presented means moving from punctual and discontinuous measures, from fragmented projects, to a structuring educational environmental process that takes account of working conflicts and their explication with the necessary inclusion of the instituting forces.

The adoption of a “green flag”, far from being a consensus or an egalitarian and participatory movement, has as its reference the confrontation of social, economic, cultural and environmental inequalities, among many others that can be identified by their materialization in a “multi-colored flag” in light of the complexity of the environmental issue.

Proposing environmental education as a structuring policy means starting from educational processes that go from pedagogy to public policy. For this, multi-sector dialogue, shared public policies and especially the strengthening and inclusion of the forces in society, the instituting forces and their pulsivity are necessary for the central and daily challenge of environmentally educating the whole community.


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iSantos (1999, p. 12) refers to the trans-national articulation of movements, associations and organizations that defend interests and groups marginalized by global capitalism as counter-hegemonic.

iiGUSFIELD, J. R (1975): Community: a critical response. New York: Harper & Row Publications.

iiiThe administration of justice, diplomacy and, incipiently, education were the main duties of the State (HEIDEMANN, 2009, p.24).

ivOther theoretical approaches: Lowi (1972) distributive, regulatory, redistributive and constitutive; Lindblon (1979), incremental process; Cohen (MARCH; OLSEN, 1995), trash can model; Kingdon (2003, 2006), pre-decision stages - agenda formation and specification of alternatives.

vAccording to the Brazilian Association of Technical Standards - ABNT. NBR 6023.

Received: June 08, 2015; Accepted: May 19, 2018

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