Creating Sustainable Communities: Discussion with Global Partners

Over 200 attend International Forum

World School Network, a division of registered NPO ECOPLUS, hosted its International Forum "Creating Sustainable Communities: Discussion with global partners" from February 14th to the18th at the National Olympics Memorial Youth Center in Tokyo, and in the Village of Tochikubo, Shiozawa, Niigata, Japan.

Participants at the Olympics Center.
Over 200 participants, including 8 guest educators and 7 students from 7 different countries and regions, along with those working in the field of education from New Zealand, the Philippines and all over Japan, joined for the forum's symposium held in Tokyo and workshop held in Niigata. A diverse group of students, businessmen, college professors, and others involved in nature activities discussed the possibilities of learning through hands-on experiences and connecting such experiences with friends throughout the world.

On the first day of the forum, children from various parts of Japan, Israel and Palestine came together to present about trash and food activities carried out in their local communities. Seated facing the audience, children introduced activities from the past year using music and photographs.。

Dr. Robbie Nicol speaking on education for sustainable communities
On the 15th, Robbie Nicol, a specialist in outdoor education aiming for sustainable society and lecturer in the outdoor and environmental education section at University of Edinburgh, gave the keynote speech. Dr. Nicol's speech addressed the importance of experience in environmental education and suggested that in laying the course for creating sustainable communities, it is important to keep a global perspective while sharing one's experiences and moving them forward to action. Next, educators from Kenya, India, Palestine, Israel, Mexico and Papua New Guinea reported on environmental education activities in their local communities and developed ideas with participants in group discussions.

Overseas guests participating in experiential program in the snow
Following the symposium in Tokyo, over 10 educators from Japan joined overseas guests in Niigata for a workshop focusing on sharing instructional experiences. Located at 500 meters above sea level and blanketed in over 2 meters of snow, the Village of Tochikubo, was the venue for the workshop. Participants arrived amidst heavy snow, demonstrated experiential activities in the snow, and experienced straw sandal and rice ball making, which reflect traditional culture in the community.

In discussions that continued deep into the night, participants re-recognized the importance of experiential-based environmental education deeply connected with traditional culture rooted in the community and came up with concrete proposals allowing different groups to share such culture based experiences.

Activities from both Tokyo and Niigata appeared in various newspapers, on NHK news and highlighted in the media.

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