In the second of two blogs on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), SmartEarth Managing Director, Noel Casserly, writes about the important role for civil society in the DRC and how the recently established established International Missionary Council for Education and Safeguarding the Environment (COMIESE) is adopting best practice models to promote education for sustainable development.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which came into effect earlier this year, build and expand on the earlier eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by focusing on critical dimensions of sustainable development in both developing and developed countries. They address human rights obligations, good governance, social justice, equity within countries, environmental sustainability, vulnerability and the exclusion of marginal populations. In many ways the SDGs provide a template for strengthening and underpinning governance and institutions.
However, given the scope and ambition of the SDGs, it is clear that governments alone cannot achieve the agenda. They must also facilitate participation of all sectors of society, including civil society organizations (CSOs), the private sector and the general public at the local level.
A strong and vibrant civil society must be fostered and encouraged to play a meaningful role. In the DRC, the recently established International Missionary Council for Education and Safeguarding the Environment (COMIESE) puts itself forward as an example non-governmental organization that can play a vital role in the DRC being a strong advocate for education for sustainable development with young people and local communities. SmartEarth is working COMIESE advising on programme design and opportunities for collaboration with international partners to advance education for sustainable development in the DRC. See http://comiese.org/?page_id=166
COMMIESE was established in November 2015 by interested individuals from a variety of backgrounds committed to advancing education for sustainable development in the DRC. COMIESE has stated that it is committed to working with schools, churches, social organizations, business, farming cooperatives and development partners to put in place programs of environmental education that takes account of the needs of children and local communities.
The founding members and managers of COMIESE (NGO), have highlighted their wealth and broad range of experience which they bring to the organization to lead and encourage local communities to be stewards of the environment and to encourage action on climate change at local level. The diverse experience of the Board members and administration includes managing universities, primary and secondary schools, business, development organizations, Chambers of Commerce, international trade projects, agricultural enterprises, construction projects, religious organizations and missions, teaching, international relations, and environmental law. Amongst the principals are:
- Mgr. Nyamuke Asial’ Ulbul Idore (Chairman of the Board) – Vice President of the Congo Protestant Church organisation platform that controls 18000 Schools all over the country.
- REV. Dr. Thimungu Mayela Josue (Deputy Chairman of the Board) – President of the Congo Presybyterian Church and former moderator of the Congo Protestant Church Platform
- Prof. Dr. Masu Ga Rugamika Léonard (National Director) – Honorary Congolese Minister of Higher Learning University and Scientific Research, – Senior Adviser of the Head of State, College Manager of Social and Cultural Issues in 2009 -2015
- Mr. Mudekereza Nsibula Lamek (Secretary to the Board and Deputy National Director) – Congo National Director of the Empowering Lives. International.Principal of the BUKAVU ELI group of schools. -Consultant with 35 farming cooperatives in Walungu(Chihonga) Rural District
COMIESE is advocating environmental education as the way towards sustainable development and particularly as a means of addressing the inter-connected challenges of protecting and conserving natural resources and rich ecosystems of the DRC and the need to improve the livelihoods approximately 70 million of youthful Congolese citizens at risk of persistent poverty. The founders agree that children, and youth should understand the scientific concepts, principles and practices in the area of environment and that sustainable development principles must be embedded in all levels of the education system. They believe young people an communities must be helped to acquire the skills and competencies in agricultural biodiversity, water resources management, renewable energy, ecologigcal farming, green entreprises, waste management, environmental health in building a climate resilient economy and society in the DRC.
COMIESE is also advocating for the role of women as custodians of the environment and promoting sustainable development through a new Congolese Women’s Environmental Forum. For instance, rural based Congolese women have accumulated knowledge in regard to environment related challenges, including loss of natural resources, ecosystem and forest cover. COMIESE is highlighting how Congolese women have accumulated experiences and positive practices of minimizing environmental damage and adaptation to climate change challenges. For example, they know when and where to grow each plant species, and they know when the soil is no longer productive.
Green School Leadership and Programme Development
The aim is to equip partner schools to put in place systems and infrastructures necessary for implementing the green schools programme. COMIESE provides leadership and curricula development related training and follow up to enable the partners schools to put in place inclusive environmental clubs capable of using active, participative and community education methods to maximize the participation of children, teachers, parents and community resources in designing and implementing each school environmental education programmes that take account of the needs of children and local communities.
Environmental Outreach Week
The programme involves schools, environmental clubs, enterprises, local churches and communities in awareness campaigns weaving environmental themes in sports programs , music festivals, drama, dance drama, preaching, tree planting, excursion and retreats and various forums aimed aimed at creating awareness among the general communities.
Ecological Agriculture and Biodiversity Education
This program addresses ecological farming and sustainable livestock management techniques. It emphasizes solar energy based agricultural marketing techniques among farming cooperatives, households and environmental clubs.
The experimental gardens or farms or agro green marketing projects are set by individual families, cooperatives and environmental clubs aimed at familiarizing the beneficiaries with ecological growing principles and practices and marketing techniques , mainly around agro alimentary species including cassava, maize, sorghum, Irish and sweet potatoes, various kinds of fruits, and agro forestry.
Green Enterprise and Marketing Education
Green enterprises education focuses on campaigns and training forums to create green economy awareness and enable enterprises to meet green standards, that growing their business while protecting the environment and being generous towards children and the future generations.
The green marketing communication campaigns consists of conferences, workshops, retreats, experience exchange visits, pilot enterprises setting, and expositions of green products; aimed at vulgarizing environmental and sustainable development principles and practices among local formal and informal enterprises.
Forest Education Programme
The forest education program concentrates on planting trees each year through partner schools, farming cooperatives and local churches. The program highlights the principles and the importance of trees and forest protecting the environment, fighting the climate warming and trapping the co2.
Art and Artisanal Environmental Education
This dance drama, tailoring, embroidery, banana bark cards, painted cards, etc; and uses them in environmental education program develops music, drama.
Sports for Environmental Education
This program integrates environmental and climate change themes within sport programs and encourages participation of young people in sustainable development, while building confidence among social groups and environmental education clubs in the great Lakes Region.
SmartEarth looks forward to ongoing collaboration with COMIESE to advance education for sustainable development in the DRC.