Thursday, July 21, 2011

Empowering Youth on Biodiversity Issues (Ottawa, Ontario)

Biodiversity affects us all.  A global crisis is taking place now.  Scientists predict that we may lose half of all species on the planet by the end of this century.

In September 2011, teachers from St-Laurent Academy, Notre Dame Catholic School, and Devonshire Public School will partner together to develop a training program to accredit youth to become biodiversity leaders in their communities.  This will include conservation projects, outdoor classrooms, organic gardening, promoting locally sourced food, political action (letter writing campaigns, becoming politically literate with student votes) etc.

We will begin with an introduction to the diversity of life that can exist in an urban setting as seen through our community-based wetland restoration project led by St-Laurent Academy Elementary and Junior High students. Students have now identified over 1300 species here.  A parallel language arts program at Devonshire Public School uses a web of local connections to build a template for environmental stewardship based on partnerships between local farmers, grocery store managers, a local restaurant, politicians, and community associations. Youth participants will walk away with a blue print for building both community-focused science and issues-based literacy programs designed to engage them as true defenders of their biological heritage. A final piece will connect these local elements to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity and its international mandate to highlight global environmental activism designed to change the way people think and act.

Understanding our place in the global community is key to this process. We have planned to attend two key events connected to student empowerment.
1. Green Schools National Conference in Denver, Colorado, USA- February 27-29, 2012.
2. Third International Youth Symposium on Biodiversity- Auriville, India (Late September, 2012) as a pre-event to the 11th Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Hyderabad, India.

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