SADC Regional Environmental Education Programme offers an opportunity to domesticate GEF aims and objectives through effective partnerships
(Submitted by Victor Kawanga, Human Settlements of Zambia (HUZA) and GEF NGO Network Regional Focal Point for Southern Africa)
The Global Environment Facility (GEF) recognises that it cannot by itself address all the needs in environmental education and training effectively and fully. It has to focus and concentrate on selected targets and coordinate its intervention with the work of other United Nations agencies, international organisations, governments, educational institutions, civil society organisations and the private sector to ensure effective holistic approach with sustainable outcomes.
As a consequence, GEF works with organisations in the Southern African Region to encourage improved coordination of efforts in environmental education and training including project support.
In 1993, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Environment and Land Management Sector (ELMS) initiated a programme to support environmental education processes in the southern African region. The initial phase of this programme included a series of workshops involving environmental education practitioners in the region. The first workshop was held in Windhoek, Namibia in 1994 and the second in Howick, South Africa in 1996. These workshops were complemented by other research processes designed to assess the state of environmental education in the region. Based on information gathered during this initial phase a formal programme document was developed and submitted to the SADC Council of Ministers for approval.
The Council of Ministers ratified the proposal and agreed that the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA) should act as implementing agency of the programme. Following approval in August 1996 the document was finalised in December 1996 (Harare) and submitted to the Swedish International Development Developing Agency (Sida) for funding. Sida found the Programme’s recommendations appropriate for responding to the urgent need for environmental education processes in the SADC region and agreed to fund the first three years of operation from July 1997 to June 2000.
In 2001, after participatory discussions the programme document was further developed and approved by the National Network Representatives in April 2001. Sida funded the second phase of the programme from 2002 to 2005, with two extensions in 2006 and 2007. A new project proposal was submitted to Sida, and the Programme is now funded to the end of 2011. In addition the Royal Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Danida), USAID and IUCN (The World Conservation Union), also provide financial support for different components of the Programme. The Regional Environmental Education Programme is a project of the SADC Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources (FANR) Directorate.
The purpose of the Regional Environmental Education (EE) Programme is to enable environmental education practitioners in the SADC region to strengthen environmental education processes for equitable and sustainable environmental management choices. This will be achieved through enhanced and strengthened environmental education policy, networking, resource materials, training capacity, and research and evaluation.
The SADC Regional EE Programme consists of five major components with different sub-projects. Each component has its specific objectives as follows.
Networking and Partnerships
To support EE and ESD processes through partnerships, networking, seed funding, knowledge resources, exchange and interactions among EE and ESD practitioners within the SADC region and beyond.
To create an enabling environment for policy synergy and inclusion of environmental and sustainable development concerns into regional and national education policies, strategies and systems and to include EE and ESD into regional and national development plans.
Training (Capacity Building)
To support institutional and professional capacity building processes to respond to environmental and sustainable development challenges through improved EE and ESD processes.
Resource Materials Development
To support the development of institutional and professional capacity within the SADC region to access, use and develop appropriate EE and ESD resource materials including appropriate innovations in information and communication technologies (ICTs).
Evaluation and Research
To support evaluation, research, and innovation in EE and ESD processes through enhanced research and evaluation capacity and reflexive practice at the regional and national level.
Through this partnership, the GEF NGO Network has been able to influence policy changes and support to effective engagement and interpretation of GEF aims and objectives.