“Environmental Education and Capacity Building” is a series of three forums organized by the UNEP
(United Nations Environment Program-Sudan) in cooperation with the University of Khartoum Environmental Studies Institute (IES) and supported by the DAL Group.
The first two forums was convened on 21 Feb. and 21 March and the third and last expected during this April.
Dr. Mohamed Salih Dafaalah from the IES said in the opening session of the first Forum that aim is to increase the society awareness about the environmental issues a task that needs the collaborate efforts of segments of the society. While Eng. Hasna Hassan from DAL Group affirmed its group support for all efforts to promote the environment in Sudan. Same time Dr. May Ahmed from the UNEP-Sudan affirmed the continuous support of the agency to the promotion of the environment and the awareness rising of the society is crucial in this respect.
Three papers were presented in the First Forum:
1. “Challenges and Opportunities in Mainstreaming Environmental Issues into the Sudanese Education System” - Prof Zeinab Zubeir. This paper discussed the necessity for inclusion of Environmental Education into all levels of the national academic curriculum as well as specialized training for teachers on the best methods, materials and activities to best benefit their pupils. The paper called for intense curriculum development and for the design of instructional materials and audio-visual aids on environmental education aimed at all levels of learners
2. “Role of the NGOs in enhancing the environmental awareness, capacity building and advocacy in Sudan” – Dr. Motasim Bashir Nimir. The paper presented a thorough outlines of the history of environmental activism and non-governmental organisations, specifically the Sudanese Environment Conservation Society (SECS), which was established in 1975. Among the paper’s conclusions were the need for support for NGOs; the link between environmental deterioration and poverty and conflict; and the need for environmental management efforts to involve communities and stakeholders at all levels. The paper emphasized that climate change impact “could only be addressed through mainstreaming climate change action in government strategies and plans involving all stakeholders.”
3. “Role of Institute of Environmental Studies (IES) in promoting environmental education in Sudan – Prof. Yagoub Abdallah.The presenter spoke on the joint efforts by IES and Bakht El-Ruda in helping educational reform through efforts to incorporate environmental education into national curricula in the 1980s, as well as a history of the IES and its contributions to environmental research and education
The presentation was followed by a very extensive debate by the participants which stressed on the need for more efforts to include environmental issues in the educational curriculum and that the efforts made in the past should be strengthened and promoted to include all the new emerging aspects of environmental issues.
In the second Forum of 21 March, five papers were presented which can summarized as follows.
1. “Women and Climate Change: Overview and the Institute’s Experience” - Dr. Elsadig Agabna Elhadi. The speaker gave an overview of eco-feminism as well as some insights into the roles and value that rural women have as workers and sources of income within their communities. Among the disparities in North Kordofan was that women formed a significant portion of the agricultural labor force and often worked twice the hours as their male counterparts.
2. “Women, Subsistence Economy and Environment in Ancient Sudan” – Prof. Intisar Soghayroun El-Zein. The paper identified the high-ranking roles of women in prehistoric Sudanese civilizations and social organization. The author also spoke on the innovations of women in food production in early Mesolithic societies and how the “emergence of female-dominated hearth-centered activities” may have played a role in the transition of many of these groups from mobile to sedentary lifestyles. The author’s ethnographic observation underlined how gender was and remains the basic principle of division of labor in Sudan, and how the labors of these women affected and were affected by their environment.
3. “Women’s Participation in Forestry Activities” – Ms. Huda Abdelgadir Abdulla. The speaker presented several lessons from her decades of experience in promoting community forestry activities across Sudan. Among the programmes she champions are environmental and economic benefits of gardens in households and schools planted and cared for by their communities.
4. “Climate Justice Approaches in Sudan” – Dr. May Ahmed. The presentation demonstrated the effects of climate change and conflict vulnerability on Sudan’s rural communities, particularly women, and highlighted the importance of joining gender approaches and climate justice in mitigating vulnerabilities arising from climate change and conflict over natural resources. The speaker presented several successful case studies from the best practices of the development of Sudan’s REDD+ and Social Forestry activities.
5. “Building Partnerships to Advocate for Environmental Issues” – Ms. Hanan Babiker El-Tahir. The presentation emphasized the importance of developing partnerships among stakeholders at various state and national levels in addressing the environmental problems to be tackled by the Sudan’s Sustainable Development Goals, including determining environmental priorities and the importance of women’s empowerment for environmental successful and sustainable programs.
The discussions that followed these presentations were very informative in particular that the main focus was the role of women in safeguarding the environment and came while the world was commemorating the World Women Day.
A UNEP concept paper stated that recent studies show that the state of the environment and its impact, nationally and globally must be acknowledged and addressed with immediacy and diligence. However, there is a significant gap (according to several Sudanese experts) in knowledge about environmental issues within Sudanese society.
With the new momentous international agreements on climate change and the environment , there is a pressing need to underscore and explain the significance of recent research , global policies and agreements and how they effect and can effected by the people of Sudan.
Within this context, the IES approached UNEP with a proposal to build a partnership that would fulfill mandates of both parties to promote continuing awareness, research and action on pressing environmental issues. UNEP-ADAPT project, funded by DEID, provides tremendous support to promote capacity building, education and awareness rising in environmental and climate change related issues.
The initiative hopes to provide stakeholders and policy makers with valuable information on environmental issues effecting Sudan and the region. The events would also offer a space for dialogue across generations and among a wide spectrum of Sudanese society and enable a sense of ownership of the solutions by citizens.
Through this initiative the partners anticipate that a new generation of students will be presented with pioneering research by experts in the field and an opportunity to engage in an exchange of ideas that could lead to tangible, positive results within their communities.
These three forums, this two and the one which will follow, are also to act as a pilot for a longer, more sustained series that will hopefully develop into a valuable institution within Sudan. The main objective is to create a partnership between all the stakeholders; government, civil society, private sector, academic institutions, etc to promote environmental awareness across the country and among all the segments of society.