With the world gradually emerging from the full throes of the COVID -19 pandemic, 2022 marked the return of the Environmental Education Association of Southern Africa’s (EEASA) in person conference. As if that wasn’t something worthy enough to celebrate, it also marked a momentous milestone for EEASA itself – turning 40.
The conference was hosted at the University of Namibia (UNAM) in Windhoek and spanned a total of three days, from 23 – 25 August 2022. Maintaining a contemporary focus, the theme was, “Education for a post Covid-19 recovery and attaining the SDGs: Reconsiderations, challenges and opportunities.” and to be as inclusive as possible there was also the opportunity for individuals to attend and present virtually. The programme offered a rich and diverse selection of presentations, round-table discussions and workshops thanks to the efforts and input of EEASA’s enthusiastic community of educators, students, researchers, government officials and professionals from across the sub region and beyond.
Nature Connect was represented by a delegation of three staff members who, along with presenting, chairing sessions and managing an exhibition stand, spent their time soaking up new knowledge from all the projects, programmes, stories and experiences being shared, as well as relishing the opportunity of networking to form and solidify relationships with likeminded community members.
Louise Matschke, Greenskills and Partnership Strategist, presented on Nature Connect’s journey of growth. She showcased stories of change – highlighting how an individual’s life can be changed during the time they spend engaging with the organisation’s phases and programmes, from crèche to career, and how greenskills can be developed and strengthened along the way. This was also an opportunity to reaffirm the organisation’s commitment to pursuing and solidifying collaborative and innovative approaches to greenskills development. (Title: How a little organisation grows Green Skills from Crèche to Career in three main steps – the story of Nature Connect’s commitment to ESD, lifelong learning and collaborative partnerships.)
Melissa Zackon, Regional Coordinator, presented on the Nature Connect powered Sustainable Schools – a programme designed as a holistic model for Education for Sustainable Develeopment (ESD) that incorporates partnerships, as well as a combination of online and face-to-face interventions and learning strategies. (Title: Sustainable Schools: A dynamic and innovative approach for Collective Learning and Teaching.)
Both presentations were well received and it was wonderful to get positive feedback and see the enthusiasm of those who expressed their interest in becoming a part of our community.
With collaboration cemented as a core value at the heart of the organisation, Nature Connect proudly co-presented a workshop alongside Khuthala Swanepoel as a representative of the Western Cape Environmental Education Forum (EE Friends). The workshop’s focus was to present on the unified efforts of the organisations which make up the Forum, highlighting how a greater impact can be achieved by working together and supporting each other in pursuit of a shared mission. (Title: Strengthening partnerships: A key to accelerating regional post-COVID-19 recovery efforts and addressing emerging challenges in advancing Education for Sustainable Development 2030 Agenda and beyond.
A notable and key highlight of the conference was the presence and involvement of teachers and learners representing schools from across Namibia. Each day, the delegates had the opportunity to learn about the project and work which is being accomplished on the ground. It was inspirational to bear witness to the proud and passionate way in which they shared the life and community improving projects being implemented and the ethos they foster.
The conference culminated in a festive gala dinner celebration, where attendees were able to showcase and appreciate a rich and diverse cultural presence.
The 2023 EEASA conference is set to be hosted by WESSA in South Africa, Johannesburg.