UNDP participates in the South African Institute of International Affairs 2016 (SAIIA 2016) young researchers symposium on climate change and sustainable developmentDec 5, 2016
An extraordinary group of high-school learners from across the country presented their research findings and recommendations on topics such as water scarcity, food security and natural disaster preparedness. These presentations drew connections between local problems, South African policies and international plans such as the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals. UNDP was part of the adjudicators during the event and awards were given to the best delegations and the best presenters from the schools.
The Programme Associate for UNDP Global Environment Fund (GEF), Ms Puleng Mkhatshwa who attended the event commended SAIIA for such a good programme which encourages students to research on very important development issues. However, she also noted that due to lack of resources other schools did not get an equal chance of exposure.
“My observation is that schools that are coming from the rural areas do not get the necessary resources to enable them to perform well. This was evident in their presentation and their inability to engage the audience or respond to adjudicators’ questions. It would be great if organizations that are working in the education sector can sponsor reading materials to such schools”, she said.
According to Ms Desirée Kosciulek, the Youth Programme Manager for the SAIIA, the goal of the Sustainability Project is to equip South African youth with knowledge and understanding of the local and international issues connected to sustainable development, climate change and biodiversity so that they might be able to put forth their ideas on how to tackle the challenges facing our world today.
“This programme requires teams of learners to research case examples, and to consider what possible recommendations or solutions they would propose at a local and international level,” said Kosciulek.
Participants on the programme are provided unique and often life changing opportunities to engage with different stakeholders from academia, civil society, government, media, the private sector, the diplomatic community and the United Nations. Tutoring, workshops, and resource materials are provided to each of the participating schools and regardless of results, each school is invited to get involved in various programme activities throughout the year.