We are honoured to have had our #SustainableSchools school coordinator, Catherine Kuhn, represent #NatureConnect at the IUCN Africa Protected Areas Congress (APAC). The congress took place in Kigali, Rwanda, in July 2022 and hosted more than 2400 participants from 53 African and 27 other countries.
APAC highlighted the need for more effective, collaborative, and inclusive conservation measures across the African continent. Nature Connect collaborated with partner Youth organisations such as Y4Enviro, Yout4Nature, WESSA, and Wildlife Clubs of Kenya and was present at the World Commission on Protected Areas and #NatureForAll Youth Pavilion which enabled a platform for these organisations to showcase the work they do.
Catherine conducted a presentation for some of the youth delegates. She presented on the Sustainable Schools programme, the programme successes, and goals, and highlighted the Training and Nature Care fund work.
The main aim of the Youth Pavilion was to highlight the need for more youth to be involved in conservation work and the broader importance of Environmental Education. Environmental Education involves integrating environmental and conservation knowledge-based learning into the school curriculum through various interactions and immersive activities at schools or off-site.
Environmental Education aims to enhance the existing school curriculum by providing opportunities for youth to be exposed and introduced to the wonders of nature. It extends beyond the classroom and applies to adults and community members.
By introducing youth to career opportunities and supporting career paths in the Green Economy, we ensure that the next generation can provide the needed capacity in the Green Economy. As a result, youth involvement in nature-based experiences ensures that more young people enter the Green Economy, promoting a better-equipped skills force to promote a sustainable future for South Africa.
The congress was the perfect platform for connecting with and meeting people from various organisations and countries, and it provided us the opportunity to promote our work in South Africa. We were able to create awareness around the benefits of environmental education and conservation projects in South Africa.
“Rwanda is a great country and was the most appropriate place to have held the congress. The government has taken many steps to become the leading green country in Africa, having banned all single-use plastics in 2019. They also impose strict fines on users using single-use plastic. The streets are clean and safe, and there is visual policing throughout the capital city. It was a pleasure seeing and exploring the capital city and meeting the locals who are friendly and accommodating.” shared Catherine.
In a similar way, we aim to lead in environmental education to achieve sustainability through environmentally-empowered citizenry, with zero species and habitat loss, by nurturing a sense of pride for the natural environment in children.