Biological diversity, or biodiversity, is manifested at all levels of organization (genes, species, ecosystems and landscapes) and is seen in all forms of life, habitats and ecosystems (tropical forests, oceans and seas, savannah ecosystems, wetlands, drylands, mountains, etc.).
The effect of human activities - magnified in recent years by population growth and global climate change - has greatly reduced biodiversity in ecosystems around the world. It is therefore important to refocus education programmes so that they enable educators and learners to protect biodiversity. The issue of biodiversity should be introduced or developed within both teaching and learning perspectives, with curricula and materials developed to create desired learning outcomes. Learning outcomes should include academic understanding, acquisition of values, increased capacity, skills development and the adoption of attitudes and behaviour conducive to biodiversity preservation.
ESD and Biodiversity at UNESCO
The Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Comoé project developed jointly by UNESCO and UNEP, uses 6 biosphere reserves in West Africa (Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Benin) to preserve areas naturally rich in biodiversity on the basis of the knowledge and experience of local rural communities. The aim is to learn lessons for the preservation and sustainable use of the biodiversity of the savannah. Additionally, the project seeks to strengthen the skills and technical capacity of the communities involved in the biosphere reserves, through the establishment of appropriate learning and training mechanisms. Training sessions are organized, along with role-playing activities, which are very effective in raising awareness of the various aspects of preservation as well as the use and promotion of the resources within protected areas. ESD is practised in order to preserve biodiversity and test options for reconciling preservation with the growth of human activities.