Educating the new generation on ‘space for heritage’

Educating the new generation in Cancun, Mexico

Whether we adults take good care of our Natural and Cultural Heritage, it is in the minds of the younger generation that interest in science and awareness of conservation must be nurtured.

UNESCO’s Open Initiative – Young Generation educational activity involves partners of the ESA/UNESCO Open Initiative on the Use of Space Technologies to Support the World Heritage Convention, including major space agencies, conservation authorities and research institutions. Its goal is to make use of space science and technology to create awareness of conservation among children.

This activity contributes to the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development. UNESCO assists local conservation authorities to involve students (ages 12–15) from schools in or near UNESCO Biosphere Reserves and natural and cultural World Heritage sites in easy fieldwork tasks that support satellite image processing.

The local students:

  • Observe with the support of a time series of satellite images how the site and/or its surroundings have changed over the last 20 and 10 years, leading up to the present,
  • Learn with the site manager about the cultural and biodiversity values of the site, the importance of preserving these values, and the threats associated to them,
  • Appreciate the link between the site’s biodiversity and the local community’s intangible heritage – including their food, handicrafts and traditional medicines,
  • Participate in simple tasks during field trips to support satellite image assessment, such as identifying clear marks in the ground (such as roads crossings) and and descriptions of places where experts take GPS points,
  • Examine other satellite images that show changes occurring in key areas of their country and around the world – including major cities, lakes and forests,
  • Understand what their local community is doing with regards to the reasonable use of associated natural resources, and
  • Participate in activities within the local community  that are associated with the sustainable use of the surrounding biodiversity.

By understanding the heritage site, children will value it.
By valuing the heritage site, children will take care of it.
By caring for the heritage site, children will help others enjoy it.
By enjoying the heritage site, people will take care of it.

‘Open Initiative – Young Generation’ promotes the exchange of information, beliefs and opinions between children regarding their local environment and culture and on how to contribute to its long-term conservation. It promotes awareness, pride and support among children in caring for their natural and cultural resources. The initiative uses results of the Open Initiative’s space projects and involves the students surrounding the heritage sites.

In addition, the activity facilitates intercultural dialogues between children around the world, by providing an excellent forum for cooperation and enhanced understanding of other cultures, as well as ideas and actions for the sustainable use of the Earth’s resources.

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