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Sandwatch: Adapting to climate change and educating for sustainable development

UNESCO Teaching Tool in Small Island Developing States

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. Sandwatch method is applied in an interdisciplinary manner with applications ranging from biology to woodwork, from geography to art, and from poetry to mathematics.

Sandwatch was selected as one of the 25 success stories from around the world to exhibit its work during the World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development : "Learn today for a sustainable future" held in Japan in November 2014. 


Supported by a well-illustrated manual (currently available in English, French, Portuguese and Spanish, involved Sandwatch groups can select to investigate different aspects of the beach such as: beach erosion and accretion, sediment composition, impact of human activities on the beach, beach debris, pollution, water quality, waves, currents, 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 UNESCO SIDS Action Plan, the SAMOA Pathway and Education for Sustainable Development, 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.

With the financial support of the government of Denmark, UNESCO, in collaboration with the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) and the Sandwatch Foundation, produced a Sandwatch training videos to provide a visual demonstration of the methods shown in the Sandwatch manual. The videos are available on Youtube in English and Spanish.

A Database has also been developed to allow Sandwatch practitioners to visualise and analyze the data they are collecting locally (e.g. using graphs to demonstrate trends, determining whether the measured changes are seasonal or long-term progressive changes), and to globally share it. Over the coming years (and decades) this data will provide the basis to assess the impact of climate change.


Sandwatch topics

  • Climate Change
  • Education for Sustainable Development
  • Enabling environment
  • Natural disasters
  • Coastal and marine resources
  • Science Education 
  • Tourism
  • Waste management/Recycling

Climate Change Education Inside and Outside the Classroom

All these online course materials will:

  • enhance the understanding of climate change in a contextualized manner;
  • present the Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) approach and its application to climate change;
  • introduce MAST (Measure, Analyse, Share and Take action!);
  • provide knowledge, skills and resources to integrate climate change education into curricula.


Sandwatch Publications

Sandwatch Videos



Additional information


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