International Conference on Water and Environment in the New Millennium: Education and Capacity Building, University of Tehran, Tehran- Iran 3-5 December 2016

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ECO Science Foundation Co-organized the International Conference with German Academic Exchange Services and UNESCO-IHE

International Conference on “Water and Environment in the New Millennium: Education and Capacity Building” jointly organized by the University of Tehran and its International partners including ECO Science Foundation (ECOSF), German Academic Exchange Services, UNESCO-IHE and others was held at University of Tehran-Iran on 3-5 December 2016. The idea of organizing this International conference was first raised by the members of “SusWaDialogue” Project (Water Management and Sustainability from a Cultural and Social Perspective – a Dialogue between Germany, Iran, Egypt and Indonesia) in March 2015. The conference in line with SDG-6, aimed to focus on water education and capacity building OF K-12 children as well as University students, for sustainable development and developing a new curriculum and for training water policy makers with cross-disciplinary knowledge in the fields of hydrology (surface and groundwater), water engineering, water law, water and environment economics, socio-hydrology and eco-hydrology. In addition to oral presentations and posters, some hands on workshops and panel discussions were also held during the conference.

The conference was opened by the Conference Chair Professor Mahmoud Nili Ahmadabadi, Chancellor of the University of Tehran. Professor Hamid Pezeshk, Dean, College of Science, University of Tehran also noted his welcome message in the inaugural session. Professor Dr. Manzoor Hussain Soomro President ECOSF in his welcome remarks in the innagural session, appreciated and congratulated the organizers including the students for organizing this important International conference. Prof. Soomro noted that the need for engaging and educating young population- the future of all nations becomes even more important in the context of Climate Change and the UN Agenda 2030 for Development. “To pursue the Sustainable Development Goals- SDGs, we must build Capacity of our Children and Youth to grow as Rational, Critical Thinkers and Responsible Global Citizens”, he added.

Professor Manzoor Soomro also presented his research paper in K12 Water Education Session entitled, “Empowering K-12 Learners with Water Management Pedagogy for Sustainable Development through Inquiry Based Science Education Approach”.  After giving brief introduction of ECO Science Foundation, its aims, objectives, activities and strategic partners, he said that, “Science Technology & Innovation (STI) has been recognized as main driver of Productivity, Economic Growth and Prosperity, and is fundamental to achieving Sustainable Development. Whereas, the three main pillars of sustainable development; Economic growth, Social equity and Environmental protection, are directly linked to STI”. Creating knowledge and understanding through science equips to find solutions to today’s acute economic, social and environmental challenges leading to achieving sustainable development and greener societies. While discussing the linkage of SDG-6 and sustainable development he said, “Water (SDG-6) the largest natural resource is at the core of sustainable development and is critical for socio-economic development, healthy ecosystems and for human survival itself. Access to safe drinking water and sanitation is a pre-requisite for poverty eradication, education, gender equality, the reduction of child mortality, improved maternal health, the combat against major water-borne diseases and achieving environmental sustainability. These issues are inherently entangled with water, as this crucial resource is a vehicle for diseases, and its lack of access brings additional burden on socioeconomic inequalities”.

“IBSE approach has been recognized, especially for the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) or STEAM at schools, globally, as the best methodology for learning of the scientific and technological processes and natural phenomena taking place in the environment around us. It leads to active construction of meaningful knowledge, rather than passive acquisition of facts provided by a teacher”, he added.  He stressed upon the need to adopt new scientific approaches for teaching/learning to step forward to the development of vibrant green economies and societies, particularly in the wake of global climate change and Agenda 2030. Empowering young children to live responsible lives and address complex global challenges through education and competency of critical thinking for imagining future scenarios and making decisions in a collaborative way.

The concepts of  water cycle, the distribution and characteristics of surface and groundwater, of urban water, scientific knowledge of the Earth’s history and mineral resources, knowledge of ecosystems and biodiversity, and the interaction of humans with ecosystems and wise management of freshwater for a healthy environment (UNESCO and Science for a Sustainable Future 2016) could be inculcated in the minds of children through IBSE pedagogy by children's own physical and mental activity, making use of their own skills of observation, questions, planning and conducting investigations, reviewing evidence, drawing conclusions, communicating and discussing results. This would certainly play a key role in strengthening children's capacity on responsible conduct and use of water by making them responsible global citizens for a sustainable future.

Professor Soomro also co-chaired a session with Dr. Ali Bagheri, Tarbiat Modares University Iran entitled, “Participatory Water and Environment Management: Educating Stakeholders”. Moreover in a roundtable discussion on Internationalization of Water Education and Capacity Development, he participated as a panelist.

President ECO Science Foundation in the closing ceremony of the conference expressed his immense pleasure to have partnered with University of Tehran and assured full cooperation and support of  ECOSF in the noble work of Education and Capacity Building in Water and Environment sectors, and said that ECOSF would be very happy to cooperate and collaborate especially in research and capacity building.

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