CANIE: Climate Action Network for International Educators was launched in September 2019 to provide a platform for international education practitioners who see the need for greater, faster action on climate.
CANIE has now run several live events, including three International Education Climate Action Summits focused on Australia/New Zealand, the USA/Canada and most recently, Europe. You can check out the content from those events on the CANIE YouTube channel. #caniesummit2020
Co-founded by Ailsa Lamont (director of Pomegranate Global) and Dr Pii-Tuulia Nikula (senior lecturer at EIT in New Zealand), with founding members based in the USA, UK, Canada and France, CANIE's aim is to provide resources, training and events to help individuals take action and to drive change within their institution. www.can-ie.org/
Anyone can join CANIE for free and access the resources and tips we have added so far. Follow us on Twitter @CANIEglobal where we also share examples of climate action in international ed from around the globe.
We would love to hear from you with ideas and suggestions for what action you would like to see so please get in touch here.
First Runners Up
The Awareness and Community Engagement Campaign across Pakistan for Environmental Protection through a blended digital and offline approach
This amazing team from Pakistan ran the winners extremely close: expect to hear more in the future from these high-flying, young women, Saira Ahmad and Samar Hasan who led a campaign to raise awareness and engage communities across Pakistan about climate change.
The Sohni Dharti campaign included an open competition encouraging people to submit their own videos illustrating the effects of climate change: resulting in some classics - check them out on their Facebook page.
Samar and Saira were also expert at building links with the other alumni teams from across the region and even showcasing the other alumni projects on their site.
There were 3 teams from Pakistan who all did their country proud and on a different day any of them could have been winners. A special mention has to go to Team WIRE, represented by Fatima, Durre and Umar who ran a full weekend bootcamp for women working in renewable energy. They collaborated with the Sohni Dharti team too and it was fabulous to see the spirit of partnership. If you'd like to follow or support WIRE here's the link.
Last but by no means least were the team from Pakistan with their biogas project where they trained and equipped farmers to use biogas slurry as organic fertilizer to improve vegetable farming yields and reduce the use of chemicals. Fawad, Riaz, Mukhtar and Muhammad - great guys making great impact.
Well, three winners actually. The competition was intense and the quality was amazing, making the judging one of the hardest tasks I and the other judges have ever had. Every team here had done amazing work but in the end the top spot went to the team from the Bandarban Hill District of Bangladesh who had been fighting to stop illegal stone extraction which was drying up the rivers and threatening biodiversity as well as the livelihoods of local indigenous people.
They were pitted against powerful local syndicates they had to battle in the courts, as well as educating and winning over the local community. Their struggle is far from over but the extra funds and the chance to make new connections at the Climate Reality event will help. Truly worthy winners.
In the next posts I'll cover the two runners up plus some more on Bhutan itself - possibly the most beautiful little country in the world.
Bhutan is clearly a good place to be an animal: even the numerous stray dogs in central Thimphu are happy and fat thanks to the locals' propensity to feed and protect them.
It also does an incredible job of nurturing biodiversity by putting in place wildlife corridors between the protected areas that cover 72% of its land to allow animals like Bengali tigers, snow leopards and (wow, you really are a real animal!) takins to roam the length and breadth of the country.
The most recent National Tiger Survey in 2015 counted 103 tigers, which is critically important given that 90% of global tiger habitat has been lost, and the expanding illegal wildlife trade is worth 20-40 billions of dollars a year.
Happiness is a serious business in this country ’’
Learning about Gross National Happiness and 'development with values' has been the ideal backdrop for an event about taking effective climate action. Even some confirmed cynics in our number have been visibly moved by GNH and have seen how it can serve as an inspiration and a tool to shape better policy.
Tomorrow is pitch day when the 14 teams have 3 minutes each to convince the judges that they should be the ones to win extra project funding and the opportunity to come to Brisbane next June to be trained by Al Gore as a Climate Reality Leader.
I'll be highlighting the winning teams' projects in the next few posts, as well as sharing the secrets of Bhutan's magic teapots!
We will fly very close to the mountains. Do not be alarmed, this is quite normal''
Welcome to the new Pomegranate blog, where I'll be sharing thoughts and tips on how to accelerate action to tackle climate change, examples of breakthroughs and progress, plus any other interesting snippets I come across.
This week the action is in Thimphu, Bhutan where I'm running a climate action workshop for Australia Awards alumni from 7 countries across South and West Asia Regional Alumni Workshop: Australia Awards alumni as Champions for the Environment and Climate Change.
The Land of the Thunder Dragon is still one of the harder places to reach on the planet, partly due to geography, tucked away as it is in the Eastern Himalayas just below Tibet, and partly due to its policy of charging tourists US$250 a day to enter. Bhutan famously pursues a development philosophy of Gross National Happiness (GNH) rather than just chasing the almighty GDP dollar, recognising that humans need more than just material wealth to thrive, making this the perfect place for our workshop this week.
GNH is based on the idea that happiness can only come if you look after people and your natural environment at the same time, leading Bhutan to enshrine in its constitution a commitment to remaining carbon neutral for all time. Clearly if the rest of the world took a similar approach we wouldn't be in the mess we're in now but it's never too late to start emulating this seriously enlightened approach. If you'd like to learn more about this unique Buddhist kingdom a great starting point is this TED talk by Tshering Tobgay, the former PM.
The teams here this week will be showcasing the environmental projects they've been working on all year: ranging from a renewable energy bootcamp run by women for women in Pakistan, to new systems to alert authorities to natural disasters in Bangladesh by turning ordinary people into walking alarm systems. I'll cover some of the highlights, as well as insights from some of the great work being done by the World Wildlife Fund and Bhutan for Life. Stay tuned!
Tips and ideas
International students want universities to act sustainably.
Published in The Australian HES 19/2/2020 - Stephen Connelly and Ailsa Lamont, co-authors.
In the wake of the Australian drought and bushfires, and the establishment by Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan of the Global Reputation Taskforce it is timely to consider what environmental issues mean to international students.
The number of globally mobile students grows each year (more than 5 million in higher education alone) and emissions associated with this mobility are estimated in a recent study at 14-39 megatons per year, a significant proportion of which is caused by air travel. Already some European universities are seeking to channel their students towards study abroad destinations they can reach by train rather than plane.
We know that many young people are deeply concerned about climate change and want to see action. Can we identify what these trends are likely to mean for the international education sector?
Key questions include whether or not environmental issues are a factor in attracting students to an institution or destination in the first place, and whether or not they contribute to student satisfaction or their propensity to recommend their institution or study destination to others. Will students start voting with their feet based on a destination’s climate credentials or concern about climate-related natural disasters?
A fuller picture is starting to emerge. QS conducted the Environmental Concerns Survey in August 2019, with responses from more than 3,700 prospective international students interested in studies in the UK, Australia, Canada, or USA. The majority of respondents considered universities to be either very environmentally friendly (33%) or somewhat environmentally friendly (49%). 36% strongly agreed that universities care about the environment, 35% slightly agreed. An overwhelming majority (94%) agreed that universities could do more to be environmentally sustainable, but overall the survey demonstrated that students value universities taking sustainability steps on both a global and local level.
i-graduate’s International Student Barometer (ISB) survey has included a question on universities’ “eco-friendliness” for many years. Results from the Australian 2018 ISB showed that 91.7% of international students were either ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with their institutions’ “eco-friendly attitude to the environment”. Domestic students, on the other hand, were slightly less enthusiastic, with 84% agreeing with their international counterparts. i-graduate also examined the link between satisfaction levels and students’ propensity to recommend their institution to others. The most impactful element of students’ living experience is their ability to make good contacts for their future (35% positive correlation). Institutions’ eco-friendly attitude to the environment has less impact on students’ propensity to recommend their institution (26% positive correlation), but has a positive impact nevertheless. The ISB in 2020 will add “eco-friendly reputation of the institution” to the decision-making section of the survey to try to understand whether environmental issues influence students during that critical stage of their education journey.
The ISB is conducted all over the world, allowing comparisons between students in different countries and regions. International students in Canada and Australia, for example, were most satisfied with their institutions’ “eco-friendly attitude to the environment” (92.5% and 91.7% respectively). “Eco-friendly attitude” was most impactful among international students in Canada – a 33% positive correlation with their propensity to recommend their institution to others. As the table below shows, for an institution’s eco-friendly attitude to the environment, Canada had both the highest satisfaction scores among the countries and regions analysed and the strongest relationship between satisfaction levels and propensity to recommend the institution to others.
The UK’s National Union of Students survey has shown that 80% of students expect universities to act on sustainability. Closer to home, the University of Tasmania found in a survey of 3,700 students that 86% expect carbon neutral certification and 80% support fossil fuel divestment.
The recent launch of the Times Higher Education Impact Ranking offers prospective students the chance to compare institutions on their performance against the UN Sustainable Development Goals, including climate action. This ranking is very new, but in its first year many of the top spots were held by Canadian institutions, in line with the ISB findings.
It may be that international students are beginning to take more stock of environmental issues when choosing universities for overseas studies and in their recommendations to friends and peers. IDP’s Student Buyer Behaviour survey, which measures changes in perceptions of popular study destinations, may include questions around sustainability and climate action in the next round. Results from these surveys will help us understand more about how these issues impact international student decision-making and study experience.
The extent to which countries and their governments’ attitudes to environmental issues impact student choice is another issue all together. Will international students start to call out governments that are not seen to be pulling their weight on climate change? Australia could be the test case that the rest of the world is watching.
Studying overseas is an exciting and life-changing opportunity.
We understand that international education is about much more than simply seeing new places and having an incredible experience, it’s the first step on your journey to becoming a global citizen.
That is why we at Pomegranate Global were so happy to work with CISaustralia to develop the Green Book: Tips & Resources for Sustainable Learning Abroad.
You can download your free copy here.