ISSN: 2717-4417

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Environmental Education, Faculty of Educational Sciences, Payame Noor University, Tehran, Iran.

2 Department of environmental education, faculty of educational sciences, Payame Noor University, Tehran, Iran.



- Citizens’ environmental literacy greatly affected their environmental awareness and knowledge.
- The collective environmental behavior of men was greater than women’s.
- There was a significant relationship between awareness, knowledge of concern, and environmental behavior.
- There was no relationship between the indicators of environmental literacy and age.
- There was a significant relationship between academic degree and environmental awareness.
The issue of social responsibility for the protection of the environment at all levels of the society is explicitly emphasized in Article 14 of the General Environmental Policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The city of Mashhad is the second most populated city in Iran after Tehran. A city like Mashhad, with a population of nearly five million people, is typically faced with environmental problems such as extremely high temperature, demanding waste management, noise and air pollution, traffic congestion, water shortage, and drought. Expression of environmental problems is a concern, and requires the cooperation of experts and the public to find solutions. Researchers have come up with a variety of solutions to environmental problems, most of which are technological, but they are interested in changing people’s lifestyles and behavioral solutions today due to the high cost of these projects, because environmental hazards result from human intervention. The present issues can be overcome only through changes in human attitudes and behaviors. Citizens with pro-environmental behaviors feel most responsible for the urban environment and the preservation of its natural, historical, and cultural values. The aim of this study was to investigate environmental literacy and its relationship with background variables and the aspects of citizens’ environmental literacy in Mashhad.
This cross-sectional survey adopted an individual unit of analysis. The population involved the citizens of Mashhad in 2021. A sample of size 689 containing residents in the thirteen municipal districts of Mashhad was selected using the systematic random sampling method, and parameters such as citizens’ awareness, knowledge, concern, and environmental behavior were measured as dimensions of environmental literacy. The data collection tool was a questionnaire, which was completed with reference to the respondents. For assessment of its reliability, a pre-test questionnaire was completed by a sample of fifty people for elimination of probable defects and calculation of reliability. A Cronbach’s alpha coefficient between 0.70 and 0.84 indicated the proper reliability of the questionnaire. Moreover, formal validity was used in this study.  The hypotheses were tested once the data were analyzed using correlation and comparison methods in the SPSS software.
The results of this study indicated the high level of citizens’ environmental literacy in terms of awareness and knowledge, while the respondents’ score in environmental concern and behavior was only slightly above average. The respondents’ individual environmental behavior ranged between moderate and high. Their environmental behaviors in the public sphere were significantly lower than average and close to low levels. The collective environmental behaviors of men are greater than those of women, but individual environmental behaviors are greater in women than in men. None of the indicators of environmental literacy was related to age except environmental behaviors. The average environmental behavior index was 3.17 for the 18-24 age group, 3.29 for the 25-44 age group, and 3.31 for the 45-64 age group, and the average environmental behavior index for people aged sixty-five years and older was reported to be 3.32. This indicated that the environmental behavior index increased slightly as age rose. The chi-squared test results demonstrated that there was a significant relationship between citizens’ academic degrees and the environmental knowledge index in Mashhad. In other words, environmental concerns increased as academic degree rose. Finally, there was a significant direct relationship with low intensity between environmental awareness, knowledge, and concern and environmental behavior.
The results of the study indicated a relatively poor tendency among the citizens towards environment-friendly behaviors, especially in the public sphere. Although the examined population was mentally concerned about the environment, the concern did not provide them with enough energy and motivation to take an action, for whatever reason. Environmental awareness can change only individual environmental behaviors, which is possible in a small space such as a family and impossible or trivial beyond that. Citizens consider the responsibility of protecting the environment outside their personal spaces, such as a house, car, or workplace, as a responsibility of the relevant municipal institutions, and hardly participate in voluntary activities aimed to protect the urban environment. Therefore, efforts should be made to increase citizens’ environmental literacy, and environmental education should be different for different age, occupation, academic, and gender groups. The capacity of non-governmental institutions to attract participation and cooperation among organizations should be used to promote responsibility in environmental behavior.
This article is taken from the doctoral dissertation entitled “Designing and validating a model for attracting public participation in the development of environmental literacy of the citizens of Mashhad”, which down in Payame Noor University of Tehran.


Main Subjects

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