UNESCO Sandwatch Training Promotes Climate Change Education in Indonesia

January 2013. Climate change poses many challenges to beaches and coastal areas and to the people living near these areas. In order to educate school students and community members on how to protect their beach environments, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Jakarta office and the FOCIL Foundation organized a Sandwatch training of trainers for teachers and students from Wangi-wangi island, Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia, in Wakatobi, Indonesia, on 17 and 18 December 2012. 

The training involved 18 students and 6 teachers from 3 local schools and started the implementation of Sandwatch activities on the island. In particular, the event aimed to socialize the concept of Sandwatch for climate change adaptation and education for sustainable development, discuss Sandwatch methodologies, and develop a one-year workplan for Sandwatch implementation in the respective schools.

During the training workshop and a fieldtrip, teachers and students identified the environmental problems facing Waha beach, discussed the environmental problems they will focus on as part of Sandwatch activities (each school will choose a beach where they will implement Sandwatch), and debated on how Sandwatch activities can be regularly implemented in the schools for the next 5 months and beyond.

Coastal environmental issues identified and discussed at the training include sand mining and the ensuing rapid erosion, beach use, and debris. One-year workplans for beach monitoring, data analysis, result sharing and taking action are currently being developed by each school.

Participants are encouraged to share the knowledge they have gained with other students and to invite them to implement Sandwatch activities and be part of the global Sandwatch programme. It is expected that by mid 2013, at least 40 students will have been involved in Sandwatch activities in Wakatobi. The first beach monitoring will be carried out by mid January 2013.

The Sandwatch project was launched by UNESCO in 1999 as a volunteer network of primary and secondary school students and teachers. Sandwatch seeks to develop awareness of the fragile nature of the marine and coastal environment and the need to use it wisely. The project activates an educational process through which school students and community members learn and work together. They critically evaluate the problems and conflicts facing their beach environments and develop sustainable approaches to address these issues. Sandwatch provides a practical ‘hands-on’ approach for integrating the values inherent to sustainable development into all aspects of learning. It thereby empowers citizens to act for positive environmental and social change.

For further information please contact Lisa Hiwasaki (l.hiwasaki@unesco.org) or visit: www.sandwatch.ca.