School Outreach – Promoting Biodiversity Awareness in Schools
The Secretariat has committed itself to raise awareness on the importance of preserving biodiversity and the work of the Convention to Montreal area schools. Over 50 schools from the English Montreal School Board and the Commission scolaire de Montréal, from both primary and secondary levels, participated in this program.
With a special focus reflecting this year’s theme, “Biodiversity and Climate Change,” staff members of the Secretariat and volunteers from Montreal-based universities, such as Université du Québec à Montréal and Université de Montréal, have been visiting schools since January. Presentations, made in both English and French, were given to individual classes of students of all ages, sometimes with several classes visited a day. This presentation included a PowerPoint that gave a brief introduction into biodiversity, what it is, as well as an introduction into climate change and how it happens. Examples of the impacts of climate change on biodiversity are explored in three different ecosystems. The presentation ends with the ways forward, both at the international level and at the individual level.
Staff members and presenters then engaged the students in a lively question and answer period, provoking their curiosity on the importance of the interlinkages between biodiversity and climate change. Students were quite familiar with the threats of climate change, and were very keen on learning the role that biodiversity plays in adaptation and mitigation to the impacts of climate change, as well as the simple things they can do to promote biodiversity conservation and preservation right from their own homes. An example of the presentation
used is available on our website.
The Secretariat recognizes the importance of promoting increased awareness of the value of biodiversity, and the impact that climate change is having on these natural treasures. As the Secretariat continues to promote biodiversity education and awareness as part of the school curriculum, the extremely positive feedback we have received is an encouraging indication that we are moving in the right direction. A few examples are here below.
An energetic and highly motivated grade 5 class from l’Annexe St-Louis de Gonzague, a primary school in the Greater Montreal area, following a presentation on biodiversity and climate change, took the following actions:
- They began this learning adventure, through a series of animated discussions on the significance of biological diversity.
- They then decided to participate in the Art Competition being organized by the SCBD. This initiative was spread throughout the whole school so that all classes participated.
- They studied, through related texts, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report that came out in February 2007.
- They visited the SCBD offices to submit their art entries and to discuss with SCBD staff some of their questions and concerns about climate change and biodiversity.
- These activities raised their personal awareness of biodiversity and climate change issues. To share what they learned, they posted this new information throughout the corridors of the school hoping to share their knowledge with the other students. At the same time, they posted their individual commitments to activities that would reduce climate change impacts.
- They wrote a letter to their parents about their visit to the SCBD, and to share their reactions as “young defenders of biodiversity.”
- As a final project, to celebrate the International Day for Biological Diversity, the students prepared postcards addressed to the Prime Minister, which focus on the importance of protecting biodiversity at all costs. The subject of the post cards is, “Me: a Young Citizen of The Earth, Me: Future Voter…” These postcards were sent out on 22 May 2007.
The school outreach program has also gone international this year. Part of the programme this year was to recruit university student volunteers to present at primary and secondary school around the island of Montreal. One of the volunteers was a student visiting from Lebanon. Upon his return to Lebanon, he initiated a similar school outreach programme there. The first 4 presentations took place at “College des Soeurs du Rosaire.” The outcomes of these presentations were very positive, and the school is looking forward to visits next year.