Story | 21 Feb, 2024

Nature-based Education championed by CEC Delegation at 12th WEEC

A dynamic delegation of over 20 members of IUCN’s Commission on Education and Communication (CEC) participated in the 12th World Environmental Education Congress in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, January 29 - February 3, 2024.


Since 2003, the World Environmental Education Congress (WEEC) has connected thousands of experts from around the world to share advances in Environmental Education (EE) and Education for Sustainable Development (ESD).

IUCN CEC delegates shined as plenary speakers, panel experts, and moderators on the main stages of WEEC, while also supporting the Congress backstage as rapporteurs and youth organizers. IUCN President Razan Al Mubarak gave an inspiring opening plenary on how transformative educational approaches can align to tackle the triple planetary crisis, now and for generations to come. 

As a complement to the main WEEC programme, CEC leaders convened and led four design dialogue sessions that explored the role of IUCN and CEC in shaping the new era of Nature-based Education, an area of focus for the Commission. 

With CEC leadership, #NatureForAll movement leaders, global experts are reimagining environmental education and existing educational approaches. These are being expanded upon and re-envisioned as an inclusive ecosystem of approaches to Nature-based Education (NbE). NbE is an ecosystem of blended educational strategies encompassing environmental education (as first defined by the IUCN), indigenous ways of knowing, climate and biodiversity education, education for sustainable development, outdoor education and experiential education, mindfulness, and socio-emotional learning, among others. NbE expands upon and encompasses this Commission’s past work on Education for Conservation (EfC). More than a one-way-fits-all, NbE aims to serve as an educational ecosystem encompassing various complementary initiatives that bring nature to the core of learning.

Emerging as a key outcome from the Congress, the Abu Dhabi Roadmap for Environmental Education and Education for Sustainable Development is an urgent call to raise the ambition of EE and ESD by 2030. IUCN CEC is highlighted as a key network in pushing progress in environmental education, and Nature-based Education, bringing nature back into the core of learning, was cited in the Road Map as integral to address the crisis of biodiversity loss. 

CEC’s WEEC delegation and the series of four design dialogues were supported by the WEEC hosts and organisers, the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi.

The 13th WEEC will be held in 2026 in Perth, Australia. 

CEC Members with IUCN President Razan Al Mubarak at the 12th WEEC CEC Members with IUCN President Razan Al Mubarak at the 12th WEEC


CEC highlights from WEEC

  • CEC Members Jaime Zaplatosch Ehrenberg, Brenda Kessler, and Dominic Regester and CEC Chair Sean Southey held a workshop on Greening School Grounds and Outdoor Learning, the international movement led by CEC members. 
  • CEC Advisor and Nature Education Specialist Group Co-Chair Katalin Czippán led a workshop on gamification in environmental education.
  • IUCN Member EARTHDAY.ORG’s Director of Education, Bryce Coon, led a panel on the importance of climate education for the future of EE and ESD, and his organization’s work supporting new high-level policies equipping school systems to deliver high-quality climate education.
  • Kartikeya Sarabhai, Director of IUCN Member CEE India, unveiled a new collaborative network for environmental education resource sharing and partnerships, South and Southeast Asia Network for Environmental Education (SASEANEE), supported by Dr. Vasanti Rao, CEC’s Nature Education for Sustainability Co-Chair & South and Southeastern Asia Regional Vice Chair.
  • Katalin Czippán shared her expertise in a Roundtable on research about students’ and teachers’ views on sustainability and supporting evidence-based sustainability education development.
  • CEC Chair Sean Southey and Member Sabyesachi Bharti led a two-hour feature workshop on environment, cinema and education, drawing a crowd of global experts as well as youth participants from local Abu Dhabi schools.
  • Sean Southey presented his stunning work with partners on the ambitious environmental education program of AlUla, Saudi Arabia
  • Firas Abd-Alhadi, CEC’s Nature Education for Sustainability Co-Chair & West Asia Regional Vice Chair shared how environmental education can support transitions to a green economy, presenting examples from his country, Jordan. In an interview with the UAE daily newspaper, Al-Etihad, Mr. Abd-Alhadi explained that the IUCN seeks through WEEC to establish links with the experiences present in this Congress and to showcase the benefits of mainstreaming Nature-based Education in school curricula and learning environments.
  • Radhika Suri, CEC Member, shined on the WEEC mainstage as plenary speaker, sharing how EE and ESD can be mainstreamed in early childhood education across India, and the world.
  • CEC Member James Bartram, strategic consultant to governments and NGOs, served as expert moderator for high-level panels on professional development for education for sustainable development and climate education.
  • Diana Garlytska, CEC Regional Vice Chair for Europe and Co-Chair of the Youth and Intergenerational Partnerships Specialist Group supported the WEEC organizers in facilitating the energetic Youth Environmental Education Congress (YEEC) and Youth Summit, alongside CEC Young Professional Member, Kotoko Yadomaru,President of Japan’s Change Our Next Decade.
  • CEC Steering Committee Member and Nature Education Specialist Co-Chair Luis Camargo hosted a roundtable on Nature-Based Education Networks, showcasing the transformative work of his organization OpEPA in Colombia and other partners.
  • CEC Members celebrated World Wetlands Day 2024 with a nature walk through Abu Dhabi’s Jubail Mangrove Park, followed by a guided visit through the Abu Dhabi National Aquarium by the Education and Conservation Team, learning about the conservation work of the Aquarium in partnership with the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi.