Interactive Event on Climate Action and Environmental Education in the Skopje City Park

21 March 2024
Interactive Event on Climate Action and Environmental Education in the Skopje City Park
UNICEF North Macedonia / 2024

Skopje, 21 March 2024: On the first day of spring, children, young people, and educators livened up the Skopje City Park at an interactive event to showcase climate action and environmental education initiatives being implemented in the country. The event was organized by the Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning, UNICEF with support from Sweden and other partners including the City of Skopje.

“The Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning welcomes initiatives that support environmental education and youth-led efforts. We firmly believe that addressing and resolving the climate crisis, safeguarding the environment, and constructing a sustainable and resilient future require educating the younger generations. This involves nurturing their environmental awareness and fostering curiosity for science,” stated Kaja Shukova, Minister for Environment and Physical Planning. She emphasized that the Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning (MESP) collaborates with all stakeholders, including international agencies like UNICEF, to establish essential strategic and legal frameworks such as the Climate Action Law, and that climate actions should embody collective partnership efforts for the benefit of local communities, grounded in knowledge and accurate approaches. Shukova also highlighted that the Ministry of Education and Culture actively supports the GLOBE program. This program offers incredible opportunities for experiential learning about nature and ecosystems, fostering students’ interest in science. Additionally, it equips teachers and professors with an invaluable educational resource.

Around 250 children from across the country engaged in interactive workshops organized by the Experiential Learning Network, the BioTechnology Lab of the City of Skopje, and the GLOBE programme. These workshops, designed to foster scientific curiosity and environmental awareness, featured hands-on experiments for students and teachers. The Experiential Learning Network was launched in 2023 as part of a UNICEF initiative funded by Sweden to empower children and young people to address climate change challenges. Since being launched some 1300 students have participated in the workshops and extracurricular activities, which continue to be available to all primary and secondary schools through a system of registration.  Recently, the BioTechnology Laboratory managed by the City of Skopje and Drisla, agreed to join the Experiential Learning Network.

“As a ministry, we are committed to raising students’ awareness about ecology. Within the framework of the ongoing education system reform, our goal is to enhance the quality of education in the field of understanding climate change and sustainability. Through curricular and extracurricular activities, students acquire and deepen their knowledge about the environment, natural resources, living in harmony with nature, and the impact of climate change,” said Jeton Shaqiri, Minister of Education and Science. He added that schools are actively implementing environmental practices and organizing events to raise awareness of the importance of a healthy environment, noting that these efforts aim to promote nature-friendly behavior among students. Shaqiri also highlighted that events like the one today play a crucial role in creating a more sustainable future for our planet and nurturing caring generations who value and protect the environment they live in.

At the Innovation Expo over 60 young innovators and climate activists promoted their local climate and environment initiatives developed through UPSHIFT and Youth Innovation Camps. During the meet-up, young people engaged in a consultation to identify priority areas to be included in a UNICEF climate strategy.

“It’s really great to see all the activities on climate action and environmental education being presented during this interactive event. It demonstrates the possibilities of young people in this country and that tackling complex issues such as the climate crisis requires systemic partnerships and interventions, hand in hand with local community action. UNICEF has been working on all levels, from supporting the national Science Learning Network; to integration of experiential learning in the education system and equipping teachers and young students with practical skills; through working with young innovators and climate activists to promote their local climate and environment initiatives. Together, we’re not just teaching about climate action and environmental education - we’re shaping a sustainable and resilient future,” said Patrizia DiGiovanni, UNICEF Representative.

The event wrapped up with a teachers’ meet-up on experiential learning on climate change and environmental sustainability. During the event 60 pre-school and primary teachers from around the country gathered to learn about the extra-curricular activities being offered by the Experiential Learning Network, and new tools and manuals designed to help them integrate experiential learning and environmental education in education. To date, close to 6.000 teachers have been reached through various professional development opportunities on experiential learning.

The event provided an opportunity to showcase some of the results of the work being done by partners in the UNICEF supported programme “Empowering Children and Young People to Act as Change Agents to Reduce the Vulnerability of Climate Change to Communities” which is funded by Sweden. The programme is implemented with the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Education and Science, the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, the Fund for Innovation and Technological Development and other partners including the City of Skopje, the Macedonian Ecological Society, LEAD, the Resource Environment Center and Eco Logic.

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