Expert Meeting on Education

The Expert Workshop on Education: Priority activity 10 for the programme of work on Communication, Education and Public Awareness (CEPA) of the Convention on Biological Diversity was held in Paris from 17 to 19 March 2008 at the offices of UNESCO. The meeting was the first opportunity for experts on education to exclusively discuss the issues of mainstreaming biodiversity into education in the context of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

The following recommendations were made:

(a) Formal, informal and nonformal contexts of education are equally important, but have their own specific mechanisms, opportunities and actors. There are however good reasons for promoting and enhancing collaboration between all fields of education, as this is likely to result in greater effectiveness. The expert felt it would be useful to think of education in terms of learning processes. This better reflects the need to capture the notions of interaction and internalisation;

(b) The Expert Workshop recognised the complexity of reaching out to millions of primary and secondary schools and 60 million teachers worldwide in the formal system and the further millions of learners in nonformal contexts. For this reason it is essential to focus international initiatives on creating tools, frameworks and cooperation that facilitate action on the national level. Partnerships between key organisations from the fields of education and environment form the basis for such national activities to strengthen education for sustainable development;

(c) The mainstreaming of biodiversity into education in all contexts should be framed in terms of its contribution to the messages, competencies and themes of education for sustainable development. It is not recommended that biodiversity education in and of itself be the starting point for work;

(d) Any attempts at mainstreaming should seek to bring together actors and experts from various ministries, including environment, education and others. The particularities of cross-ministry collaboration in any given context need to be taken into account;

(e) The unique nature of traditional knowledge and the contribution of indigenous and local communities to knowledge about the world were also acknowledged as extremely important. Particular guidelines should be developed that take their experience into account. More work is required in this regard;

(f) Knowledge management was recognised as important in ensuring that the existing body of work and experience is presented and shared among practitioners in an efficient, effective and useful way. Effort should be made to develop clearing houses according to discrete goals and guidelines and taking existing experience into account;

(g) UNESCO has an important role to play in the mainstreaming of biodiversity into ESD. Greater collaboration and consolidation of existing experience needs to be realised. The secretariats of Multilateral Environmental Agreements should also seek to collaborate on educational matters, taking into consideration the differences in national structures for CEPA, and taking advantage of projects at the international level to create collaborative structures. One such project, “Learning for Life” was presented and should be discussed at COP.

Read the full report.