Internet notebook about my work: deep listening to facilitate positive change


Saturday 31 May 2008

New learning for biodiversity

Biodiversity in schools is often seen as normal biology. To show Parties to the CBD that another approach is possible, the German Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety published an English translation of one of their education kits. The kit – Biological Diversity, educational and information materials - is part of the German campaign to raise awareness for COP 9 and meant for school kids in the age of 12 – 16. The content is organized in six sections: species diversity worldwide, national parks and biosphere reserves, high-tech from nature, project suggestion, learning and competences check and background information for teachers. The kit contains worksheets and information sheets. The sheets are designed to copy for students. All references are to information on the web rather than to books. The kit is targeted to kids in Germany, but with some adaptations and additions teachers in many countries can use the materials. Or get inspired by it to develop their own version. To order the kit write to:

Thursday 29 May 2008

Toward Public Participation in CBD Management

Article 13 CBD recommends Parties to popularise the ideas of the Convention by undertaking communication, education and public awareness activities. Ana Kalinowska, CEC member and Director of the Warsaw Centre for Environmental Studies has published a book on how to faciltate processes towards public support and engagement in conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. It show cases what works e.g. in schools, zoos, national parks, forestry and municipalities. The book is published in Polish. It is a welcome Polish complement to the CBD CEPA Toolkit. I hope the publisher will also make available an online edition, so that the CBD Toolkit online can link to this Polish addition.

Public Awareness Indicators

A new postal stamp issued in April for the occasion of CBD COP 9 by the German government can serve as an indicator for public awareness. The polar bear on the picture is 'Knut' born in 2006 in the Berlin Zoo. An event that attracted quite some publicity. The stamp not only puts biodiversity on the table of German citizens when they write or receive a letter. The fact that the postal service choose this theme is in itself an indicator that biodiversity related issues are on the German public agenda. The launch of the stamp is accompanied with an information canpaign linked to the COP 9 awareness campaign.

Wednesday 28 May 2008

Information alone does not lead to change

One of the Environmental Conventions organizes a workshop for journalists. The day I attend, about ten staffs lecture to a similar number of young journalists and a few NGO staffs. They all use power points. After an expose of twenty to twenty five minutes there is just time for a few questions. Even those do not come easily. Then the expert has to run to a next meeting and a new presentation follows. Apparently the thinking of the experts is based on the deficiency model. When we give more information, journalists will understand and write more. During the coffee break one of the journalists confesses to me he would have left the workshop after the first presentation, were it not his trip and DSA are paid to attend. When one speaker is late, the participants exchange experiences among themselves: journalists are interested in environment; the news paper editors are not.

It would help if experts used less jargon. And more time to build relationships. It made me think that it would be useful if we would introduce to the MEAs the contextual model. Communication works when one invests equally in trust, personal experiences, values and interests. And not in information alone.

Monday 26 May 2008

CEPA Toolkit officially launched

The CEPA Toolkit is now available to the Parties. It is extremely useful. Personally I have made use of it on several occasions. I strongly recommend it. I am grateful to the IUCN Commission on Education and Communication and Frits Hesselink the CEPA toolkit lead author for providing us with this publication, said Sylvi Ofstad during the Plenary of the 9th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity. The toolkit and other aspects of the CEPA Program of Work were in more detail discussed and illustrated during the Meeting of the Informal Advisory Committee on CEPA and several CEPA workshops. The hardcopy version of the toolkit contains in 308 pages a range of fact sheets, examples and checklists. For the online version click here.

Friday 23 May 2008

Biodiversity Day: a picnic to raise awareness

The "Pan-European Biodiversity Picnic" aims to bring together leaders in government, private sector, NGOs and other stakeholders for a pleasant picnic in nature every year on 22 May, International Biodiversity Day. In addition to some seasonal fruits from extensive, organic orchards what else is needed for making the Picnic a success in your country? Commitment from an institution or organisation, which can mobilise stakeholders and devote some capacities for the organisational tasks. High-level representatives of various stakeholders, who are attracted to the Picnic both by the importance of the issue and the content of the picnic basket. A nice place in nature, which can be a scenic place for a friendly gathering. Preferably nice weather.
The picnic organized by CEE and Countdown 2010 on Biodiversity Day in Bonn was a good experience. You want to read more click here.

Saturday 17 May 2008

Changing lifestyle = caring what we eat!

To conserve biodiversity we need transformational change. Also in our own lifestyle. You are what you eat. So why not start there? Especially since there is more biodiversity visible inside the supermarket, than outside. Most of this biodiversity is there in the company of a heavy ecological footprint. And many articles on the shelves are made from the basic food supply of people in biodiversity rich countries (corn, rice, etc.). While these people take to the streets to protest rising food prices, West European governments think of policies to counter the effects of a population (especially youth) eating too much: diabetes, heart problems, cancer etc. Do we actually know what we eat? Do we know where it comes from? Do we know what it means for other people? Why don’t we care what we eat? Michel Pollan writes about our Western food habits and their implications in the Omnivore Dilemma. It definitely changed the way I used to think about the politics and pleasure of eating. Now the question is how to market our grandmother's cuisine when the question arises: what do we have for dinner tonight?

Wednesday 7 May 2008

300 People apply for pilot intergenerational partnerships

Since the first week of April members of the IUCN Commission on Education and Communication (CEC) and several Youth Organizations could apply for a ‘buddy-experiment’ in intergenerational partnerships for sustainability. We got more than 300 reactions. Partnering was done on the basis of gender, language, preference and 'first come, first serve'. Since there were about 80 CEC members, we had to disappoint quite a few younger people. The application form asked for preference, latest learning about sustainability and demand for new learning. Over 20% of the applicants had no specific preference. About 15% of the CEC members wanted a buddy with an interest in biodiversity related issues. Almost 10% of the applicants made statements about the preferred character and interests of their budy. As we had not enough information only in a few cases we could match buddies on preferences.

The experiences of recent learning in sustainable development looks at first sight rather philosophical among some of the youth and a bit more concrete among CEC members. But there are no major differences (click on the matrix above to read more details). The same is true for the demand for learning (see the matrix left of this text). In the last week of April the applicants were informed who their buddy was and the pilot started. In one or two cases applicants wrote us that their buddy did not respond immediately to their e-mails. Some applicants copied us on their first exchange. They came across issues such as how to address each other (formal or informal), the meaning of their name, details of personal interests from their CVs, their families, the place where they are living, differences between their cultures, how they came involved in sustainable development, the possibility of meeting in Second Life, or communicating through skype. It seems quite a rich encounter so far.