Canadian initiatives were in the spotlight this month at COP24, the 24th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in Katowice, Poland from December 3 to 14. All Canadians concerned about climate change are anxiously awaiting what may come out of COP24, but perhaps none more so than the students of Canadian UNESCO Schools.
The UNESCO Associated Schools Network (ASPnet) links more than 11,000 schools, teachers and students across the world in support of international understanding, peace, intercultural dialogue, sustainable development and more. The network actively contributes to achieving the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in particular Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4: Quality education for all. ASPnet in Canada counts more than 80 schools in eight provinces.
Canadian UNESCO schools are particularly active in climate action—and others are noticing. UNESCO schools in France and Russia have invited Canadian schools to share their stories and initiatives. A recent example is Loch Lomond School in New Brunswick, which created a video about the UNESCO Canadian Biosphere Reserves and Geoparks to share with UNESCO schools in Russia!
Tracking Change: Bringing Indigenous youth perspectives on climate change to COP24
A group of Indigenous youth from northern Canada’s MacKenzie River Basin attended COP24 to present a knowledge mobilization project called Tracking Change. The project focuses on traditional knowledge of ecological, social and cultural change in the basin, particularly around climate change.
After a stop in Paris where they met with Ms. Elaine Ayotte, Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of Canada to UNESCO, they headed to Katowice to present their posters at the UN Conference of Youth, participated in the UNFCCC Indigenous People’s Caucus, and met with Canada’s delegates from Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Assembly of First Nations. Congratulations to all the students! (Visit their Facebook page)
Launching Two Canadian ASPnet Climate Change Documents at COP24
CCUNESCO partners attended COP24 to talk about Canadian UNESCO schools and launched two inspiring climate-change publications by and for youth.
Promising Practices of Climate Action from 10 Canadian ASPnet Schools
Co-launched by CCUNESCO and the University of Saskatchewan’s Sustainability and Education Policy Network, this publication promotes Canadian climate initiatives, and is a great piece for sharing and learning about best practices. Featuring initiatives from 10 ASPnet schools that participated in the 2017-18 UNESCO Climate Action Pilot Project, it covers common drivers and barriers and outlines next steps for climate action.
A few climate action initiatives from ASPnet schools
- At Bruce Peninsula District School in rural Ontario, teachers, students and staff live the “whole school approach” every day and have created their own website, Simply Living Simply, with monthly challenges and tips.
- As part of Zero Emissions Day, Collège Régina Assumpta conducted a survey on transportation methods used by the school community. They discovered that teaching staff often drive to school by themselves and 40 percent of students arrive by car. The school plans to use this information to encourage carpooling and public transit.
- After installing an industrial composter, École Cavelier-De LaSalle redirected 176 kg of waste as compost in 2017, and 200 kg in 2018. The school has also been reducing plastic waste by selling reusable water bottles.
Activity Guide on Climate Change and Traditional Knowledge
At COP24, the Global Centre for Education (GCE) and TakingITGlobal connected ASPnet schools from Canada, Brazil, Nigeria, Indonesia, and Poland to talk about climate change and traditional knowledge. Launched during this interactive session, the Activity Guide on Climate Change and Traditional Knowledge aims to help students examine the complex nature of climate change and explore practical steps to make a difference. It addresses SDG 13 (Climate Action) and provides resources to spark interest and build knowledge. It also contains activities to encourage participation, discussion questions to provoke critical thought, and resources for further study and action.
From ASPnet climate initiatives to Indigenous knowledge mobilization, it’s clear that Canada’s youth have much to contribute when it comes to helping the world avoid a climate crisis. We encourage all schools and teachers to download UNESCO’s Getting Climate-Ready: A Guide For Schools On Climate Action to implement the whole-school approach and take action!
UNESCO Associated Schools Network
Filmed during the UNESCO Schools National Conference in Winnipeg, the video presents the UNESCO Associated Schools Network in Canada. Students and educators collaborate on common themes and projects focusing on global citizenship, sustainable development and reconciliation. Members share with us the rich and diverse experiences from within the network.