Environmental Education and Climate Change Adaptation: Science of Pollution-Tolerant and Climate-Resistant Plants

Action Plan for 2019-2022

Climate Change is one of the most important scientific, political and social issues of this century. Underan effective mitigation strategy framework for climate change, environmental education is a key component, whereteachers' education must play an important role. An interaction with Environmental Science students at undergraduate level showed that significant misconception exists regarding the adaptation of plants to climate change and its relationship with global warming. The knowledge on pollutant-specific tolerant/ameliorating plant species for different geographic regions of the world is also meagre. The objectives of the proposal is to equip the teachers with knowledge on climate change science, and hands on training to select pollution-tolerant and climate résilient plants adapted to different edapho-climatic regions of the world. The team aims to collect information for finalizing teaching tools (lectures, demonstration, experiments, field tasks) for teachers through workshops.

Interest in education about climate change has increased in recent years due to awareness of unusual weather patterns and the deepening concern of global environmental, social and economic changes due to climate change. Several aspects of climate change make it a challenging topic to teach. While educators attempt to convey accurate information through formal education curriculum, as well as extension programs in non-formal venues, misconceptions about the causes of climate change are abound, and most youth do not understand basics of climate science.It is essential to build critical thinking skill among the youthin addition to providing them with factual information on climate change.The novel approach should improve the problem solving skill among the stakeholders. Therefore, designing and implementing programmes on climate change require a balancing act of increasing knowledge of climate change andimplementing skill-based activities addressing local issues by undertaking small but high impact projects. Such projects on mitigation and adaptation to climate change at local level using appropriate plants/crops would empower them with hands-on practical experience to take up larger challenges in future.

Under the proposed project, we would focus on two themes for effective climate change education:

(1) Making climate change information available to learners.

(2) Engaging learners in activities and interventions addressing pollution mitigation and climate change adaptation using appropriate plant/crops.

The climate change is bringing new uncertainties and adding new risks.One of the most effective ways to adapt to climate change is to use cropsresilient to climate change. Plant traits that enable the species to tolerate current and future climate change include, morphological and histological characters, physiological parameters, and attributes associated with life cycle events often referred to as ‘plant functional traits'. Based on these morphological and functional traits, climate smart crop varieties including medicinal and aromatic plants may be selected. Pollution resilient plant species will be screened based on the Air Pollution Index developed by CSIR-NBRI. Education materials to assess the impact of air pollution on indicator lichen species will also be prepared. All theseactivities will be undertaken by the college science teachers and researchers after adequate training.

1. Initiation Workshop for finalizing educational materials (e-books and e-documentaries):

Within the firstquarter of the sanction of the project, a 3-days workshop involving all the partners would be organized for finalizing the training modules and contents. This will be organised by ISEB at CSIR-NBRI,Lucknow, India.In this workshop, e-books and e-video documentaries on the two themes will be finalized. The complete road map of future project activities with time line will be discussed and finalized.

2. Capacity buildingand Action Training workshops: Each implementing organization will organize one country-level workshop (2-days duration) involving science teachers and researchers of the respective country to raise awareness on the climate change , air pollution and their consequences. The stakeholders will be educated about the objectives of IUBS project and their role in its implementation.The identified college teachers/researchers will be imparted intensive training for undertaking action research on the following:

(i) Module 1: Pollution resistant plant selection (based on Air Pollution Index)

(ii) Module 2: Selection of climate smart crop varieties (based on functional and morphological traits) 

(iii) Module 3: Selection of forest tree species for climate change mitigation (based on their carbon sequestration potential)

(iv) Module 4: Use of plants/lichens as pollution indicators (taking air pollutants such as SOx as an example)


3. Mid-term Workshop (through Video Conference): In the beginning of the second year, a mid-term workshop will be organized involving all the participating countries to assess the progress of work as well as learning by the teachers and researchers.Through this workshop, the compilation of research output at country level would also be undertaken. Any mid-term correction required will also be suggested.

4. International Conference: Before the closure of the project, an international conference of 2- days duration will be organizedto highlight the achievements, compile research data generated and learning outcome, and work out the exit strategy/future strategy for sustainability of the activities initiated under the project. In this conference, most of the stakeholders across theparticipating countries and experts will take part.