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Education for Sustainable Development Background

Island Environment Watch:
A New Tool for Education for Sustainable Island Living


There are a number of outreach initiatives, some in progress for several years, that seek to empower citizens, and especially youth, to act for positive environmental and social change. Among the successful tools are ones that focus on a practical approach to the measurement of environmental change by schools and communities, who then use the information to address issues that they identify at a local level. Such initiatives include the Sandwatch project (UNESCO-sponsored) that focuses on beaches, the River Care project (sponsored by Live and Learn Environmental Education Inc.) that focuses on rivers, and the Chemistry Outreach to Schools (COTS), University of the South Pacific initiative that focuses on weather and waste. Each of these initiatives has had successes in their local area, ranging from persuading a sugar factory to reduce the contaminants dumped in a river (River Care in Fiji) to involving a coastal community in the clearance of a blocked drain and beautification of a coastal area (Sandwatch in St. Vincent and the Grenadines) and to encouraging school science clubs to monitor weather and village communities to embark on a 'Clean X" project (COTS Program, USP, Fiji).

Such activities are very significant at a local level, but the question always arises - how to broaden the impact so that they become really significant and visible over a larger area? A simple answer is for the different initiatives to join forces and work together.


The key idea behind this proposal is networking activities and different groups working together within a geographical framework.

Taking a distinct geographic area such as a district, a parish or a watershed, different groups would undertake to monitor specific aspects of environmental change, for example, weather observations, waste management, land clearing and sediment runoff, river pollution, mangrove health, beach littering. Each group could work individually, collecting information about the changes over time, identifying issues, and undertaking activities to address the issues; but there would also be opportunities for the groups to interact with each other to discuss and exchange experiences and possibly also to collaborate with each others activities.

This is essentially a school and community-based approach. So methods adopted for monitoring environmental changes must be simple, low cost (or no-cost) and sustainable. This is not an academic programme, rather it is a case of helping ordinary people help themselves by collecting the necessary information and using it to enhance their neighbourhoods and to make their own individual lives, and those of their children, better. (Such methods already exist for most, if not all, the ecosystem components - beaches, rivers, weather and mangroves). A suggested approach would be to select two or three islands in different regions where this concept could be tried on a pilot basis in distinct geographical areas over a 2-3 year period.

With different activities, linked and focused in a specific geographical area, the potential exists for significant impact that is likely to amount to more than the sum of the individual components.


To get involved, contact :


Coastal Regions and Small Islands Platform
UNESCO, Paris, France
fax: +33 1 45 68 58 08

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