Sandwatch: Introducing Young People to Scientific Method through Beach Monitoring

The Sandwatch' beach monitoring scheme is a joint initiative of two UNESCO sectors (Education and Natural Sciences, through the Associated Schools Project network and the Coasts and Small Islands Platform), the UNESCO Offices in Kingston, Apia and other regions and the University of Puerto Rico Sea Grant Program. It provides a framework whereby students, with the help of their teachers and communities, critically evaluate the problems and conflicts facing their beach environments, and then develop sustainable approaches to address these issues. As such, Sandwatch contributes to several chapters of the Mauritius Strategy, including those on Natural and environmental disasters (Chapter II) and Sustainable capacity development and education for sustainable development (XIV), as well as Coastal and marine resources (IV).

Initially, the project was titled Coast and beach stability in the Caribbean, with work in such island-communities as Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Cuba, Curaçao, Dominica, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, St Lucia, St Vincent & the Grenadines, Trinidad & Tobago. More recently, the initiative has spread to islands in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, with the support of the UNESCO field offices in Apia and Dar es Salaam. During 2005, Sandwatch was introduced to every school in the Cook Islands, and in late 2005 was started in Fiji with a training workshop in December organized in conjunction with the NGO Live and Learn Environmental Education. A Sandwatch strategy for the Indian Ocean islands was initiated in 2006-2007. In addition, Sandwatch activities in the Caribbean are continuing, with a workshop in Jamaica in November 2005 providing an opportunity to take stock of recent progress and plan future collaborative work.

Among publications is a manual and guide Introduction to Sandwatch : An Educational Tool for Sustainable Development, published in September 2005 as Coastal region and small island papers 19. This publication and the broader Sandwatch initiative represent a contribution to the Decade on Education for Sustainable Development, with discussions underway with partners in the different regions on more holistic approaches involving several island ecosystems and habitats (mountains, rivers, mangroves, as well as beaches).

The expanded geographic and thematic scope of the initiative is reflected in successive issues of a periodic electronic newsletter The Sandwatcher, 'The Voice of UNESCO's Sandwatch project’' launched in 2006. Global climate change was the theme of various issues of The Sandwatcher, with news items on Sandwatch activities in 22 countries worldwide, including dolphin-watching in Bahamas, a new approach to measuring sand size in the Cook Islands, a public-speaking competition on 'Melting Ice: A Hot Topic' in Seychelles, etc.

Since 2008, Sandwatch adopts a combined approach to climate change adaption and education for sustainable development, in order to provide a tool for children, youth, teachers, NGOs, and communities to integrate knowledge and activities relating to climate change into the Sandwatch programme. This includes: a workshop on'Youth And Climate Change: Cool Youth Leading The Way!'; a Video Competition on 'Coping with Climate Change: Sandwatch Leading The Way'; the revision of the Sandwatch Manual by integrating a chapter on climate change adaptation.

For more information go to the Sandwatch website http://www.sandwatch.ca

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