UNESCO Sint Maarten and Sint Maarten Nature Foundation Launch UNESCO Sandwatch Educational Program in Local Schools

The Sint Maarten Office of the United Nations Educational, Social and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) together with the Sint Maarten Nature Foundation launched its first series of presentations in local schools using the UNESCO Sandwatch program. The presentations focused on plants and trees and the importance of their conservation, mangroves, sea-turtles and marine flora and fauna protection. The presentations were given to the two third grades of the Methodist Agogic Centre (MAC) School in St. John’s Estate.
Sandwatch is an educational process through which school students, teachers and local communities work together in the field to monitor their coastal environments; identify and evaluate the threats, problems and conflicts facing them; and develop sustainable approaches to address them. With this approach involved groups not only understand their environment, but also develop critical thinking skills and apply them to conflict resolution, thus instilling a sense of caring for their beaches and coastal areas – their environment. The Sandwatch method is applied in an interdisciplinary manner with applications ranging from biology to woodwork, from geography to art, and from poetry to mathematics.
Supported by a well-illustrated manual, involved Sandwatch groups can select to investigate different aspects of the beach such as beach erosion and accretion, sediment composition, the impact of human activities on the beach, beach debris and pollution, water quality, waves, currents, and plants and animals.

Throughout the process, particular emphasis is placed on observations and adaptation strategies relating to the impacts of climate change and natural disasters. In this way, Sandwatch participants contribute to building ecosystem resilience and adapting to climate change.

Within the framework of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014) and the Program of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States, Sandwatch seeks to integrate the values inherent in sustainable development into all aspects of learning, through a practical hands-on approach, thereby empowering citizens of all ages to act for positive environmental and social change.

The Sandwatch Program will continue on Thursday and Friday with field trips on the Simpson Bay Lagoon/ Mullet Pond and to Guana Bay Beach.