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IUCN Commission on Education and Communication (CEC) Newsletter, August 2023

IUCN CEC Newsletter, August 2023

Message from the Chair

The last few months have been a very busy time for the CEC. Since the launch of our new Work Plan that we shared in our last newsletter, we have activated a number of initiatives to advance our commitment to generating concrete “how to guides” that we will create for the IUCN Union, and with you. The Children and Nature Network is working hard on a guide entitled “Ten steps to Greening School Grounds and Outdoor Learning”.

CEC member Manfred Oepen and myself are working on a guide to support creating a communication campaign; and the team at Organization for Environmental Education and Protection (OpEPA) based in Colombia are leading our efforts to prepare materials to help us think more holistically and strategically about Nature-based Education. I am excited by this body of work and anticipate we will start to share drafts for your input by year end. We look forward to getting your suggestions, examples and materials to really provide texture and depth to these pieces we hope will be valuable for the entire environmental community.

The months ahead will also be busy. The GEF Assembly in Vancouver, Canada in late August is coming up, where we will host two important Nature-based Education discussions with the Government of Canada, the Canadian Wildlife Federation and Earth Day. Let us know if you are around Vancouver at that time (August 21-25). In November, the world will meet in Dubai, UAE for UNFCCC COP28. We believe this will be a watershed moment for the environmental education world as we observe an unprecedented commitment to advancing discussions on climate and nature education across the planet. I am also very excited that our friends at the Abu Dhabi Environmental Agency are hosting the World Environmental Education Congress (WEEC 2024) in late January 2024. We hope many of you can attend this important global discussion that will connect people from all over the world to discuss, learn and share the updates in education programmes addressing the environment and sustainable development. Later in this newsletter we will share how you can submit your applications to speak at this important meeting – and look forward to seeing our community well represented.

Lastly, I send you greetings from AlUla in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I have spent the last weeks working with IUCN and our IUCN Member, the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU), on a Communication Strategy for the 6 beautiful Protected Areas they have created over the last 3-4 years. Seeing our CEC members at work, engaging with the many parts of the IUCN family, and observing what we can accomplish together, has left me inspired for the future of the CEC and the entire IUCN family, and appreciative of the need for our unique Union.

Stories from the Regions

India – An Assessment for UNICEF India on strategies to engage youth in Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability (CCES)

Over the last months the Center for Media studies (CMS) based out of Delhi, and represented on the CEC Steering Committee by Dr. Vasanti Rao, has been working to prepare reports on a comprehensive study titled ‘Understanding Communication Approaches for Engaging Youth on Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability (CCES),’ for UNICEF India.

This study aims to recognise the perceptions among varied stakeholders involved in CCES; how existing programs and other institutional mechanisms have been communicated or engaged with youth in climate actions. Further, the study analyzes and recommends communication strategies to involve youth in taking positive actions for a sustainable environment. One of the wonderful features of this work is the collaboration across the UNION: CMS is an IUCN Member and is leading the national assessment and recommendation components; CEC is focusing on compiling international case studies and mechanisms to enable youth engagement, and the IUCN India team is the contract lead and undertaking key parts of the research. Our reports are being submitted in August, and over the next few months we look forward to sharing this work with you and expanding on it with your experiences and insights.

An ancient rainforest in West Africa is connecting people with conservation and restoration

As CEC, we want to celebrate the 31 years of excellent work of Tommy Garnett, CEC Regional Vice Chair for West and Central Africa, in his role as Founder and Executive Director of the Environmental Foundation for Africa. (EFA). EFA has worked tirelessly, like so many of us, to inspire people to protect the integrity of the nature he loves.

Based in Sierra Leone, EFA manages theTiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary. Many years ago, Tommy Garnett identified Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary as the perfect area in his region to raise awareness and inspire people to act for the conservation and restoration of their surroundings. The island is one of the last examples of what was once abundant rainforests in West Africa. Tommy recognized it the ideal location to feel, contemplate, learn about, and research a tropical rainforest in one of the most pristine state we can find. With the help of EFA, Tiwai Island has retained a rich and exciting biodiversity and is home to a population of pygmy hippopotami, over 135 different species of birds and one of the highest concentrations and diversity of primates in the world. Tommy’s work demonstrates that importance of having a clear vision when you embark on designing and implementing biodiversity conservation and land restoration projects. Focusing on experiencing and learning from nature, EFA could bring to bear the holistic approach that allowed Tiwai to demonstrate an integrated environmental, social, spiritual and economic approach that connects people from many different cultural backgrounds to nature.

Further Information


Whether it was at an international congresses, through the hundreds of incredible programs worldwide that connect people to nature, or at our first “Love Fest”, #NatureForAll partners from around the world have been actively celebrating and sharing their love of nature, inspiring others to take action to conserve it. With new materials in theDiscover Zone (do not forget to add your most valuable resources!), through our virtual dialogues series, or as part of our Greening School Grounds and Outdoor Learning partnership, we are proud to share best practices and innovations to help create the culture of conservation and care we all aspire! We are happy to share with you some of the amazing initiatives and projects that took place last year in the 2022-2023 #NatureForAll Annual Report, available now in English,French and Spanish.

#NatureForAll and the CEC are also excited to announce a new partnership with theGreen Film Network (GFN), an association representing 31 member festivals of extraordinary international reputation. This partnership between our two networks will enable all our respective members to expand their reach and have access to a wider range of resources and connections. We encourage you to learn more about the GFN and participate in events and program near you. We will be working with GFN to present two new #NatureForAll film awards, best feature and best short green films, at the annual GFN Award Event. The host for these Awards in 2023 will be CINEMAPLANETA (Mexico) and GREENSCREEN (Germany) in 2024.


Upcoming, the Innsbruck Nature Film Festival, INFF will take place traditionally in the picturesque Tyrol region city of Innsbruck (Austria) between 19 – 22 October, 2023. The Festival will celebrate its 22nd edition this autumn and IUCN CEC is glad to support the Festival for the second time. For more details check the INFF website.

IUCN CEC Regional Vice Chair for West Europe, Diana Garlytska says: “It was an enriching and beautiful experience to be a jury member of the festival last year. The city of Innsbruck is framed by the mountains and everything in the fresh alpine air seemed to support the festival’s spirit of celebrating the love for nature. As you look around you understand how tightly we humans are connected with nature. The Festival program includes from films to educational and cultural activities and beyond and touches on the importance of preserving the environment, the beauty of biodiversity, finding harmonious balance between economic activities and nature as well as other current topics.”

At CEC we believe that films, including documentaries, short films and animated ones, have an incredible power to communicate thought provoking messages, trigger behaviour change and instil empathy while also having a strong educational component. Thus, we are happy to encourage our members to meet in Innsbruck and experience INFF for themselves, or join another festival near you.

Further Information

Nature Education for Sustainability

The CEC has embarked on an ambitious plan to communicate the importance of Nature-based Education (NbE) as a critical dimension of promoting planetary well-being. We all know that there is an urgent need to transform our education systems, capacity building and training practices to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals as well as to achieve conservation, climate and water-related global and national targets. Nature-based Education is at the heart of this endeavor. NbE is a learning approach that brings nature into the core of education and training practices. It emphasizes the importance of ecocentrism, environmental stewardship, and understanding while preserving ecosystem services with empathy and compassion through systems thinking. It is consistent with both traditional environmental education and education for sustainable development, while it expands the vision to more explicitly emphasize the importance of meaningful connections with nature to help understand how everything depends on its well-being and vice versa.

We want educators and others to encourage individuals to learn from, connect, relate to, experience, and understand nature and our place in the planet’s living systems. We need to empower learners to make informed decisions and take responsible actions for environmental integrity, economic viability, and a just society, for present and future generations. We strive to build a holistic and integrated perspective of how the planet works and how we, as human beings, should learn to relate to the living systems of Earth, while emphasizing the need to respect cultural diversity and learn from indigenous and traditional knowledge.

CEC wants to bring nature into the center of education, and education into nature. The environment and living systems can become our teachers, learning spaces, and inspiration, serving as a pathway to deeply understand and solve our most pressing environmental challenges and nurture learners with a profound sense of empathy, responsibility, community, and care. We recognize that this will take systemic change. We will need to reexamine our formal and non-formal education frameworks and practices. We need to green our schools, universities, and business training facilities. We must ensure we have amazing, equipped educators and trainers, excellent eco-centered, systems thinking-based curricula, and proactive politicians and enabling laws and policies. It will require new funding sources and mechanisms, partnerships, and synergies. Encompassing these all, this vision is grounded in a recognition we need to be connected to nature; we need to love and understand nature.

A White Paper – Case for Change on this critical issue is being prepared and we will share it with you for comments in the coming months. We hosted a full day meeting at the GEF Assembly Meeting in Vancouver, Canada on August 21st and a panel on August 22nd. We need to build our partnerships, understanding and have a coalition of the willing to advance this ambitious work and will be hosting more meetings to connect and amplify.

As we prepare this work, we are collecting materials and identifying people interested in providing support. If you want to get more involved, please send Natalia Segovia an email.

To help inform our Nature-based Education research and policy recommendations, you are invited to contribute to the compilation of a shared CEC database. If you are aware of any international, regional, and/or national legislation, strategies, regulations, curricula, and policy papers that place a strong emphasis on Nature-based Education for sustainability at any level of formal and non-formal education, please share by answering the questions and uploading the docs or links via the following platform or send Daniel Sziva an email.

Youth and Intergenerational Partnerships

At the Commission on Education and Communication we believe that youth empowerment and engagement is only meaningful if placed consistently and strategically in all the activities that we do. Therefore, CEC’s youth strategy is implemented by three Co-Chairs on Youth and Intergenerational Partnerships, young professionals Kenza Khallafi (RVC for North Africa), Marie-Philippe Ouellet (RVC for North America) and Diana Garlytska (RVC for West Europe). These three wonderful professionals, engaging with our many youth colleagues, have been working to codify our extensive experience within CEC and #NatureForAll in creating meaningful youth engagement at regional and international events. CEC and #NatureForAll have been produced over 10 Youth Dialogue spaces, that we generally call a Youth Oasis. For example, we worked with partners to create and manage these spaces at the 3 regional World Parks Congresses held in Peru (2019), Malaysia (2022) and Rwanda (2022), as well as at at the IUCN WCC in Marseille, France (2021) and the IMPAC5 in Canada (2023). Based on this extensive experience the team is producing a 10 step guide to help you create these important engagement and empowerment spaces. The document is to be piloted as a support tool at the upcoming ICENCA Meeting in Armenia. At the same time it is expected to replicate the use of the Guide to ensure meaningful youth engagement in the Regional Conservation Forums throughout 2024 and the World Conservation Congress in 2025. More to come!

Calling all Members!

World Environmental Education Congress 2024

We are very excited by the upcoming World Environmental Education Congress (WEEC) to be held in Abu Dhabi, UAE from January 29 to February 2, 2024. The theme of WEEC 2024 is “Connecting People – Creating Tomorrow”. Clickherefor more detailed information on the program, venue and how you can register. If you are interested in youth issues, there is a special platform for youth engagement that can be found here. Until August 31, you can submit an abstract for a session below. We look forward to seeing you there!

Submit an abstract

New Video for Joining an IUCN Commission

The CEC has worked with the IUCN Secretariat and the other 6 Commissions to produce a new video that tells people about IUCN and the work of the Commission and encourages them to join. You can watch and download the French and Spanish versions, access the English below. We need your help! We want to share this video in as many languages as possible. We have many language versions already being done and you can find out what languages are currently being produced here.

Watch video here

Can you help translate the Commission video into a language you speak? If you want to help, please write to our Chair,Sean Southey and let us know what language you want to contribute. If that language is not underway, we will send you a special form to make it easy for you. Everyone who does a translation will be recognized on the CEC section of the IUCN webpage. Let us work together to show how diverse our wonderful Union is!

We also want you to share this video with as many potential Commission members as possible. You can share it via email to your networks or on LinkedIn or Facebook or any other social media channel you use. You can also embed the video in PowerPoint and finish any presentation by showing this video and encouraging the audience to volunteer their expertise to IUCN and help create a just world that values and conserves nature. Thank you for sharing!

IUCN Interregional Committee for Europe, North and Central Asia meeting in Armenia

One of the key motivations of IUCN Commission members is engaging with other members to learn and exchange their expertise while networking internationally. Yet, more often than not, these opportunities do not allow for the deep engagement that a subregional gathering has to offer. Thus, the work of IUCN agents of change like the IUCN Interregional Committee for Europe, North and Central Asia (ICENCA) is so important. The ICENCA was only formally approved by the IUCN Council in June 2022. This year the first ever ICENCA meeting will take place in the heart of the picturesque Caucasus in Yerevan, Armenia from October 16-18, 2023. It will bring together IUCN staff, members from all Commissions, IUCN member organizations and other conservation professionals for a rich set of talks, presentations and engagement opportunities. To register, please click the button below. Diana Garlytska from our team will attend, so please contact her if you plan to attend or have any questions!

We are excited to have worked with the wonderful hosts of the Festival, the Foundation for the Preservation of Wildlife and Cultural Assets, to help deepen youth engagement opportunities within the ICENCA Meeting along the film program and associated Animal Carnival Parade. Young professionals attending the event can expect morning meetings at the Youth Oasis and end-of-the-day debrief sessions each day along with numerous youth-centred expert sessions. With the support of FPWC, we also anticipate the intergenerational “morning coffee meetings” with high-profile experts. All these efforts aim to ensure meaningful youth participation, networking and learning opportunities for young professionals.

Stay tuned for program developments and looking forward to seeing you in Armenia! And remember, if you attend this regional gathering, you can also attend the SunChild 12th International Environmental Festival who we partner with through our new MoU with the Green Film Network

Register here

RCOY Eastern Europe

The CEC team works to strategically support education and communication efforts in the fields of both biodiversity and climate change. And while Youth and Intergenerational Partnerships is one of the key priorities of CEC, we find it particularly meaningful to support youth efforts at the regional and national level to create meaningful platforms to learn, share and network. The Regional Conferences on Youth for Eastern Europe, RCOY, is a perfect example.

Active youth participation in policy development, networking and learning are all very much in line with CEC perspectives on meaningful youth engagement. Thus, one of the Co-Chairs on Youth and Intergenerational Partnerships, Diana Garlytska, is co-organizing the RCOY Eastern Europe that will take place in Warsaw, Poland between September 22-24, 2023. Details on how to apply to become a delegate and contribute to the regional youth statement can be found below.

One of the key themes of the conference is nature education. We need to ensure that the educational systems we build support young people to develop the green competences and skills to prepare them to enter the labor market. This is essential to foster the holistic social and economic systems we need to support nature. The Regional Youth statement that will be produced at RCOY will feed into the Global Youth Statement prepared by YOUNGO to present at UNFCCC COP ‘28 taking place later this year in Dubai, UAE. Join RCOY Eastern Europe to have your say on nature education and more!

Apply here

Members’ News

Webinar on Online Education Experiences in Japanese Zoos

Dr. Kanako Tomisawa delivered a presentation entitled “Online educational programs at the zoos and aquariums in Japan – What can we do?” at the 3rd CEC East Asia Members’ Sharing Session, which partnered with #NatureForAll Dialogue. More than 70 people participated.

Dr. Kanako Tomisawa talked about the program with schools, the program owned by zoo, and YouTube live-streaming with examples. To start, she explained how to effectively start programs with school teachers and the importance of understanding expectations in both ways. Secondly, Dr. Kanako shared experiences of an Omuta City Zoo program which inspires children to understand what is the richness of life. Last but not least, she shared the importance of live-streaming events and how to put them into effect.

Dr. Kanako emphasized that interactive communication is the key to success. Since the zoo staff and the target audiences cannot be together physically, it is better to have the same materials in hand and to do things together to reduce the emotional distance. In addition, though through distance, the program activities still could be designed in a participatory approach.

Webinar participants were very active after the presentation asking questions and sharing reflections. Many expressed that they could adapt some experiences to their own projects and activities. You can find more on YouTube;Instagram and Facebook, or click below to contact Dr. Kanako Tomisawa.


Green Planet Sustainability Education Program in Hungary

The green planet programme aims to encourage students to think systemically, to connect and understand nature and engage them to work together for sustainability. The program provides a legal framework, textbooks and workbooks. The educators are supported by in-service teacher training and networking opportunities and special courses at cooperating higher education institutions to achieve pedagogical goals. It also supports professional development and career opportunities as in Hungary sustainability education is one of the general teacher’s competencies to be officially assessed.

The textbook for 9-10 grade students is structured in magazine-style chapters based on the students’ life situations. The first introductory section is the basis for systems thinking, the second, which is the foundation of everything, aims to strengthen and improve the relationship with nature, followed by chapters on transport, fashion, housing, settlement, health, and conscious planning for the future. The 11-12 curriculum is more scientific and starts from the functioning of the earth system as a whole, while reviewing the links with society and the economy

The Green Planet programme is supported by theBlue Planet Foundation and recommended by IUCN CEC and the Hungarian National Commission for UNESCO.

Find more information below or contact Katalin Czippan.

More information here

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