Even though desertification is one of the significant challenges of our times, many people do not know what it is, or how it affects their lives.
For teachers and schools
Another example comes from Mongolia, where a learning kit
about the causes of desertification has recently been launched by a coalition of NGOs and donors, targeted to students in seventh and eighth grade. The illustrated kit includes a teacher’s manual, student’s book and textbook, picture cards, board game and a promise tree. It is currently being tested as part of a program of eco-schools. In Spain, the organization IPADE created an educational resource
about the sources and solutions to desertification, which included an online activity where users can plant trees in Peru.
Beyond the classroom
The UNCCD’s informal education programme targets everyone, from school-age children to adults. The cartoon booklet "There is no rug big enough to sweep the desert under" by cartoonist Lupo Alberto
, tells the story of drought on an animal farm, and gives examples on how to conserve water, preserve forest cover and promote sustainable agriculture.
The Convention also promotes non-formal education by promoting the transfer of indigenous knowledge and traditional practices across generations, exchange visits and activities that involve communities. This is done through documentation of examples and best practices of traditional knowledge
submitted to the UNCCD secretariat by parties.
Working with partners
The UNCCD depends on the efforts of many partners as well as parties for education efforts. As signatories to the convention, parties commit to conduct education and awareness raising activities about desertification, land degradation and drought. In their reports to the UNCCD, parties are requested to report on efforts undertaken by civil society organizations and science and technology institutions, including education initiatives.
The UNNCD is also using new forms of communication for non-formal education. At COP 10, a Korea-based computer game development firm introduced Treeplanet
, a downloadable game for smart phones. Gamers must care for the tree with water and fertilizer, and once the tree reaches maturity, sponsors donate a real tree as part of their efforts to combat desertification in Mongolia. So far more than 100,000 users have played the game, and 50,000 trees have been planted in the desert of Mongolia.
Decade for Deserts and the Fight against Desertification
To heighten awareness of the issue of desertification and strategically link a variety of education and awareness raising activities together, the United Nations declared that 2010-2020 the United Nations Decade for Deserts and the Fight against Desertification (UNDDD).
In declaring the Decade, the United Nations drew attention to two things: first, increasing desertification in all regions, especially in Africa; and second, its implications for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, more specifically, poverty eradication and environmental sustainability.