During a side event at the eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD-COP 11), in October 2012 in Hyderabad, India, representatives of selected Regional Centres of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development (RCEs) from across the Asia–Pacific region gathered to highlight their work by sharing experiences and best practices This side event, “RCEs and Biodiversity: Local Solutions Linking Education and Implementation” was organized by the United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS).
Dr. Unnikrishnan Payyappallimana of UNU-IAS introduced the concept and benefits of the RCEs, then handed over the session to the Chair, Mr. Kazuhiko Takemoto, who praised the work of the RCEs and expressed his hope that the RCE network will continue after the end of the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development in 2014.
RCE representatives then presented some case studies.
Prof. Sonjai Havanond (RCE Cha-am, Thailand) spoke about mangrove conservation activities in his country. RCE Cha-am is involved in the biodiversity study “Education for Sustainable Development (ESDC)” in the Sirindhorn International Environment Park, and has worked on issues related to eco-tourism, fisheries and agriculture, community uniqueness and indigenous knowledge.
Ravleen Singh (RCE Chandigarh, India) talked about a project on water hyacinths that not only enhanced the biodiversity of the region but also provided livelihood opportunities to many women. RCE Chandigarh works extensively on understanding wetland ecosystems and promotes the importance of a “hands-on” approach to learning about wetlands. Their project aims to encourage local communities to to protect and conserve wetlands as an important repository of biodiversity, and to gain public recognition for wetlands while promoting sustainable development and livelihood benefits from wetlands.
RCE Chubu (Japan) is involved in the Biodiversity Cyber Dialogue Project which makes optimal use of social networking services to develop a deeper common understanding among stakeholders in different world regions on the importance of biodiversity. Prof. Kinhide Mushakoji shared insights on how the internet and social networking sites are uniting people from around the globe to work for a cause.
Lalita Siriwattananon and Sarurom Ran (RCE Greater Phnom Penh, Cambodia) discussed the need to educate local farmers and children in the benefits of using bio-fertilizers and bio-pesticides instead of chemical pesticides. RCE Greater Phnom Penh works with elementary schools and farmers to reduce threats to local biodiversity. Major thrust areas of the RCE include food, agriculture and environment education through awareness-creation and capacity-building programmes.
Dr. Abdhesh Gangwar (RCE Srinagar, India) talked about his experiences in a Naga village in Khonoma. His focus revolved around the role that the RCE is playing in developing communication tools and strategies in the UNDP-funded project on conservation of medicinal and aromatic plants in the State of Uttarakhand, India. Medicinal and aromatic plants are under severe threat due to unscientific and unsustainable harvesting; species with high market demand require immediate attention for protection and conservation.
In summing up the presentations, Dr. Ram Boojh lauded the work being done by the different RCEs and urged the RCEs to network/partner with UNESCO. He further urged participants to connect biodiversity with cultural heritage in order to ensure holistic growth and development of the communities that the RCEs are working with.
Dr. Rolando Inciong mentioned the various insights that he gained from the presentations. Kazuhiko Takemoto conducted a “question and answer” session, then concluded the event.
For more information,see the event summary on the UNU-IAS website.