In discussing environmental citizenship, it is common to hear about the rights and responsibility approaches. In the rights approach, there is the demand towards external systems to give information and provide access to decision making.This can be an effective approach when the demand is action based rather than simply semantics. Of course citizens should be given clear information and be involved in decision making. In the responsibility approach, there is a concept of external duty to comply. The concept of external duty reduces the sense of citizen empowerment or inherent understanding of the individual as the focus is directed out and away.
I would like to introduce a third approach to the conversation as an authentic approach to environmental citizenship. In an authentic approach to environmental citizenship, the responsibility towards their surrounding environment comes from within the individual. From an authentic perspective, a citizen does not need a sign that says “do not litter”. Citizens already know this. The “shoulds” and “should nots” are a result of a person’s own inherent connection to the world in which they live. These decisions are made with an inherent appreciation for and understanding of the world in which we live. Citizens work creatively and make designs that reflect the abundance and ingenuity of the world we all live in.