Happy New Year – Welcome to our first news round up of 2021 / 22. This is the year when NAEE celebrates its 50th anniversary, along with our siblings in North America and Australia. There will be many opportunities through the year to mark this achievement, including a photo competition, a new Wikipedia page, a new logo, the digitalisation of back copies of the journal, and – to be published in late Autumn – a 50th anniversary edition of our journal. We’ll be bringing you the details as they emerge.

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It’s Already in the National Curriculum – Barry Sheerman MP recently asked the Secretary of State for Education, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of introducing a compulsory sustainability component to the national curriculum. It was the Minister of State for School Standards who responded to the written question. You can see what he said here. It will come as no surprise to you. You can see what our chair of trustees thinks of the answer and the question here.

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Supported Partnership – The British Council says that If you are new to international collaboration a short-term supported partnership with Connecting Classrooms through Global Learning could open the door to a world of opportunities for your school.  Supported partnerships are designed for schools that are new to international collaboration who wish to start their global learning journey without grant funding. It’s easy to register and quick to get started with the help of your own local advisor, plus a host of ready to go project ideas and classroom resources. 

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COP Update – India is the world’s third largest emitter of carbon dioxide, and the second most populous country (though probably not for long as 1st place beckons because of its birthrate). These combine to give it an emissions per capita league table position of 134th. Should the amount of poverty in the country, and the lack of critical infrastructure, mean that it should be allowed time and financial help to bring its emissions down? – unlike, for example, countries such as the UK? Or does the large (and increasing) number of Indians who enjoy Western-style consumerist lifestyles argue against this. There was a 51-country meeting in London last week to prepare for COP26 in Glasgow. India didn’t attend. If you’d been there representing them how would you have argued?

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In Service of Nature – We’re familiar with what the UK’s wildlife trusts do, but what about what goes on in other countries – India for example. The mission of the Wildlife Trusts of India is to conserve wildlife and its habitat and to work for the welfare of individual wild animals, in partnership with communities and governments. You’ll find its nine big ideas here.

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Gaia, Greta and God – Novelist and essayist Paul Kingsnorth has presented an entertaining – if somewhat grim – glimpse forwards to the 23rd Century charting how we and our descendants failed to deal with climate change and other environmental issues. Is this the sort of thing that everyone going to or thinking about COP26 surely ought to read? You’ll find it on Unherd.

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Organising Students – SOS-UK has announced a number of activities in the coming academic year for universities, colleges and students’ unions including: [i] Responsible Futures – a supported change and accreditation scheme to embed sustainability and social responsibility; [ii] For Good – which pairs students with organisations to use their education as a force for environmental, social and economic good; and [iii] SDG Teach In – an annual two-week campaign to put the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the heart of all stages of education, and across all disciplines.

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Tiger, Tiger – WWF International says that its tiger toolkit provides a resource guide and six activities around tigers, the threats they face, and what we can do to protect them for generations to come. There is something here for all aspects of the curriculum.

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Bees in Schools – A recent report by IPBES (the intergovernmental science-policy platform on biodiversity and ecosystem services) highlighted enormous pressures on land and marine ecosystems, and concluded that more than a million plant and animal species are at risk of extinction. The authors call for fundamental changes to how we all live, to reverse these existential threats.  A feature in The Conversation reports that one recommendation from the report is that we should listen more to Indigenous people and local community knowledge, and learn from their relationship with the natural world as a way of solving environmental crises. The article focuses on beekeepers and how this changes how people see and relate to their environment. The British Beekeepers Association offers advice on keeping bees in schools. And click here for a copy of the Journal of Sustainable Beekeeping.

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Connecting Continents – Climate Action says imagine a world in which youngsters across 6 continents connect virtually and solve one of the world’s most pressing challenges: Climate Change.  This is offered by the Climate Action Project – a free journey allowing teachers and students aged 6-22 to collaborate on global scale on climate change topics over six weeks. This will involve studying causes and effects, will try to solve issues, and take action.

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Culture of Overconsumption – An article in the Australian Fashion Journal asks why isn’t fashion sustainability taught in schools. It ends: “While many schools are yet to teach their students about sustainable fashion, it’s clear that the lessons regarding sustainability can encompass clothing, too, and showcasing local sustainable brands that are creating positive change could be powerful for students to see. Teaching the younger generations to think critically about our culture of overconsumption will (hopefully) encourage more thoughtful purchasing and a more holistic understanding of the industry’s impact on our environment.”

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Wildside and Countrylife – The latest monthly overview of the environmental policy landscape – from Wildlife and Countryside Link “the place for all the latest news on nature policy” – has features on whaling, on Defra’s Sustainable Farming Incentive, and on the forthcoming Bioenergy (biomass) Strategy for the UK.

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Ornonomics – Turtle doves have declined by 93% since the 1970s to an estimated 3,600 breeding pairs in 2016. They are the UK’s only migratory dove species and research shows the main factor driving the decline is a reduction of nesting attempts during their breeding season. The RSPB says that this is linked to a decline of fitness as a result of loss of suitable habitat and natural food sources.  Operation Turtledove is an attempt to address these problems. The Economist sheds informative light on the economics behind the scheme.

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When Vulnerable is OK – The Chinese government has announced that giant pandas are no longer endangered in the wild – saying that the reclassification was the result of “improved living conditions and China’s efforts in keeping their habitats integrated”. Now they are merely vulnerable. The Guardian reports, however, that there are only 1800 individuals in the wold and quotes IUCN as saying that climate change could destroy more than 35% of their bamboo habitat in the next 80 years.

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