Although water covers more than two-thirds of the earth’s surface, less than 0.5% is readily available for human use. It thus represents a scarce resource for people around the world. Shortages of water, particularly for drinking and sanitation, are often primarily driven by an inefficient supply of services rather than by water shortages, hence the important role of education in promoting sound water governance.
ESD provides an opportunity for learners, especially the excluded or marginalized, to receive a water-related education, including science, water-fetching, sanitation and hygiene as well as to develop the relevant knowledge, skills, values and behaviours in a water sustainability-friendly context. This implies that:
- Learning encourages behavioural changes and provides the skills required for participation in water governance;
- Schools and other educational environments promote water sustainability, with access to safe water and sanitation facilities;
- Educational structures, policy and management provide guidance, oversight, coordination, monitoring and evaluation to ensure an effective, sustainable and institutionalized educational response to water governance challenges.
Water and ESD at UNESCO
The first UNESCO Associated Schools (ASPnet) Regional Flagship Project on Water Education was initiated by the United Arab Emirates National Commission for UNESCO in the Arab States region as a contribution to the DESD. The objective of this project is to encourage the participation of ASPnet schools in conservation and awareness activities.
Many communities in Arab States are facing severe water shortage and a water quality crisis. The purposes of this water education project are to raise water consciousness among students, to incorporate water conservation into their lifestyles, to develop positive changes in water conservation behaviour, and to develop effective educational approaches and materials on water management and protection. Since September 2007, ASPnet schools in participating countries have been testing the educational material proposed (in English and Arabic).