Abu Dhabi, 01 February 2024Day Three of the 12th World Environmental Education Congress (WEEC2024) at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) advanced discussions by bringing attendees together for panel talks and presentations. The focus was on investigating the ‘dimensions and means’ to address the Triple Planetary Crisis, shedding light on collaboration, values, and cultural diversity. This built upon the foundational goals and challenges addressed in the first two days of the congress.

The day began with Plenary 5 of the five-day conference, in which notable speakers expressed their viewpoints around the importance of cultural diversity in addressing climate change. The plenary stressed the critical need to develop inclusivity within environmental action programmes, explaining that diverse communities are strong communities.

Dr. Purnima Devi Barman, Director, Rewilding Academy, UN Champions of the Earth Winner, underscored the relevance of cultural and gender equality in Environmental Education (EE). She said: “The voice of rural women has shaped many environmental movements. Women who understand science and come to the forefront of conservation programmes, have the power to change the world.”

Building on the concept of collaboration, Plenary 6 presented thoughts on the importance of networking for developing impactful EE, in speeches from four distinguished speakers. Judy Braus, Executive Director North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE), USA, explained: “Networking encourages collaboration, trust-building, and creates a greater impact by sharing effective practice and scaling initiatives - playing a vital role in advancing our work to contribute to a sustainable future.


Carlos Alvarez Pereira, Member, The Club of Rome, agreed, stating: “The resonance between so many initiatives of EE all around the world is critical. Resonance creates the conditions for mutual learning and could ultimately lead to systemic change towards equitable wellbeing within a healthy planet”. Kartikeya Vikram Sarabhai, Founder and Director of the Centre for Environment Education, India, added: “We must establish effective networks to ensure changemakers are exposed to diverse ideas and strategies of using education towards solving the triple planetary crisis”.


Later in the day, three notable speakers presented ideas in Plenary 7 – a panel discussion hosted by Judy Braus, NAAEE, USA, titled: ‘Outdoor and Place-based Learning in the Decade of Ecosystem Restoration’ that highlighted nature’s role as a teacher, and the importance of spending time in it. The idea was echoed by Dr Benno Boer, Chief, Natural Sciences Unit, UNESCO, New Delhi Office, India and Dr Peter Stanfield, Land Based Cambian Lufton College, UK, who shared examples of successful outdoor education programmes.

Running concurrently to the plenaries, roundtables, workshops, and discussions took place across Day Three investigating ways that EE can help nurture a more sustainable future.

The importance of cultivating learning communities to help address socio-environmental challenges around EE was discussed in a panel, and another session looked at some of the social injustice issues which need to be addressed in order to remove some of the barriers which are currently preventing meaningful environmental change. Challenges and achievements from programmes around the world were showcased in workshops and talks, which offered an opportunity to compare ideas, strategies, and perspectives.

Young people were also given a voice through the dedicated Youth Environmental Education Congress (YEEC), a special youth-focussed programme which runs alongside the WEEC. Key stakeholders in the planet’s future, and powerful agents of change, the young audience had the opportunity to showcase some of their environmental-related projects in sessions throughout Day Three.

One such project was presented by WWF-India, who hosted a workshop with their Model Conference of Parties (MCOP), a simulation of the global Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP). The MCOP programme aims to build the understanding of the young people about the importance of biodiversity and ecosystems for a sustainable world.

The dynamic discussions around solutions will set the stage for Day 4, when Plenary 8 and 9 will address ways that EE into mainstream early childhood education, and how AI and smart technologies can support innovation and scaling within EE. The remainder of the conference will focus on summarising the key learnings and takeaways and translating them into agreed actions that will be implemented beyond the event to align with the identified goals.

The fifth and last day of the congress will feature field trips, inviting participants to explore Abu Dhabi's ecological and educational sites, seamlessly integrating theory into hands-on experiences.

Those interested can register online or at the venue in Abu Dhabi until 1 February 2024. WEEC 12 | Registration (weec2024.org)

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