The Outdoor Classroom – reconnecting children and their environment

Fighting ADHD, Nature Deficit Disorder and over-use of technology – by having children to  engage with their surroundings. Compiled by Henricus Peters, NAEEUK Co-Chair

Every program of early care and education has an outdoor environment and some outdoor activities – but often not enough.

The Outdoor Classroom Project, conducted by the Child Educational Center (CEC), was initially funded from 2003 to 2008 by First 5 LA, in Los Angeles County, to disseminate the philosophy and practice of outdoor programming and environments as critical elements of a quality program of early care and education.

Its primary focus is now in Santa Barbara County, supported through the Orfalea Fund. Grounded in a century of theory, practice and research, this project was developed in response to the dramatic deterioration of children’s outdoor activity in contemporary America.

The goal of the Outdoor Classroom is to increase the quantity, quality and benefit of children’s outdoor experience.View or download the Outdoor Classroom Project summary flyer.

The comprehensive Outdoor Classroom model addresses at least seven of the critical issues facing young children today:

World Environment Day : Our sustainable future

The Earth flag is not an official flag, since ...
The Earth flag is not an official flag, since there is no official governing body over Earth. The flag holds a photo transfer of a NASA image of the Earth on a dark blue background. It has been associated with Earth Day. Although the flag was originally copyrighted, a judge ruled that the copyright was invalid. Earth Flag Ltd. v. Alamo Flag Co., 154 F. Supp. 2d 663 (S.D.N.Y. 2001) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The theme for the 40th World Environment Day – Green Economy: Does it include you? – is aimed at encouraging public participation in the adoption of a new growth model that is low carbon, resource efficient and socially inclusive.

English: Sustainability chart
English: Sustainability chart (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

However, while recognizing the importance of individual responsibility, it should be noted that it is policymakers around the world who will be held accountable for the lack of progress in achieving sustainable and equitable development.

With the world economy yet to see any light at the end of tunnel after the onset of the global financial crisis, it is high time policymakers from all countries aggressively embraced green growth as the only way to deliver a cleaner, greener and more sustainable 21st century.

A global transition to a green economy has been underway since the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Brazil in 1992. But there is mounting evidence that the transition to a green economy is not happening fast enough.

Global sustainable development has been seriously challenged by rapid population growth, increasing poverty, unequal North-South development, severe pollution, the reduction in biodiversity, desertification and global climate change.

There is still no international consensus on global food security or on ways to nourish a population of 9 billion by 2050.

Worse, the worst global financial crisis since 1930s has not only dampened global growth prospects, it has also pushed policymakers in debt-laden rich countries to either choose growth-depressing austerity or inflation-fueling monetary easing.

The 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, or “Rio+20” is to be held soon, but policymakers in these countries are still shying away from the painful, but necessary, structural reforms that will make the green economy the bedrock of their future prosperity.

China issued its first national report on sustainable development last Friday, which underscored the urgency of transforming its development pattern.

To pursue a sustainable future for all, the international community should jointly make the World Environment Day a wake-up call for policy changes to improve people’s well-being and social equity while reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities.

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Bad news for sustainability – Tuna fishing ban in Pacific partially lifted

Yellowfin tuna are being fished as a replaceme...
Yellowfin tuna are being fished as a replacement for the now largely depleted Southern bluefin tuna. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When will we ever learn? Just when we are making progress to make a fish sustainable…

Pacific nations have reopened the Pacific high seas to commercial tuna fishing after a two-year ban imposed to preserve declining big eye tuna stocks. Comments here or at Learn From Nature

In a meeting in Guam last week, member countries of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) lifted the fishing ban on pockets 1 and 2 of the Pacific Ocean.

The WCPFC is a 25-member organisation including Australia, the EU, Japan, Papua New Guinea, and the Philippines that oversees and regulates migratory fish stocks such as tuna and marlin in the Pacific. Its jurisdiction covers 20% of the planet’s surface.

In January 2010, the WCPFC placed the ban on parts of the Pacific Ocean, where 60% of the world’s tuna are sourced, to conserve the population of the bigeye tuna, which scientists classified as overfished. Other tuna species like skipjack, yellowfin, and albacore also found in the Pacific high seas but their numbers have not reached an alarming low.

Although it lifted the ban, the commission maintained that entry to the marine reserves would be limited, refusing proposals from the European Community and South Korea for a free-for-all access to one of the world’s richest fishing grounds.

“The Pacific Commons is now open. But for all practical purposes, access will be limited,” said Mark Dia of Greenpeace. “They knew that everybody would suffer if a free-for-all access is granted,” he added.

Permitted areas for tuna fishing in the Pacific OceanThe permitted areas for tuna fishing in the Pacific Ocean

The WCPFC approved the request of the Philippine government, the third top tuna harvester in the Pacific after Japan and South Korea, to fish in pocket 1 of the Pacific, which is bounded by the island nations of Micronesia, Palau, Papua New Guinea, and Indonesia.

In exchange for fishing access, the Philippine government must report its catch and limit the number of fishing vessels to 36, Dia said. Filipino vessels must also apply for international fishing permits before entering pocket 1.

The Philippines’ fisheries director Asis Perez said the ban brought hard times to the local fishing sector. He also noted that the fishing ban was counterproductive for the Philippines as it forced fishing companies to harvest in its national waters, which is considered to be a spawning ground for various types of tuna, he said.

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