Integrating Biodiversity in MEDC Education

Background:The Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity suggested that schools should conduct educational sessions on May 22nd and has devised lesson plans to be used around the world on that day. But, whether or not schools actually follow these plans for educational sessions on the International Day for Biological Diversity is not known. ("International day for biological diversity - 22 May" 2008) The lesson plans suggested on the CBD's website include the following topics ("Teacher's corner", 2011):

We suggest extending the length of academic biodiversity awareness education beyond a day. We also suggest different lesson plan formats. This implies that schools will either be requested or strongly urged to conduct short sessions that promote awareness regarding the loss of biodiversity and the real world connotations of biodiversity loss.

Proposition: On December 2000, the UN General Assembly adopted The International Day for Biological Diversity on May 22nd. We propose that the academic week of May 22nd be deemed The International Week for Biological Diversity, with May 22nd remaining the official holiday. During the week of biological diversity awareness, schools in all nations will be urged to dedicate at least fifteen minutes of science class time to the topic of biodiversity loss and the consequences of not taking action.

The academic week on biological diversity will include five school days. On each day of the week, faculty members responsible for science subjects will conduct fifteen-minute presentations on biodiversity. We have presented a broad list of possible classes because students in different grade levels and in different areas may take different science classes. Each school should arrange these presentations so that students at each grade level listen to a single relevant presentation.

These instructional sessions in science classes will be given to all students enrolled in pre-higher educational institutions, including primary, middle and high schools, but will take on different formats depending on age of the students in the grade. For example, in United States these instructional sessions would be administered from K-12 grades ("The U.S. education system", 2011) while in Belgium they would apply to primary schools and general secondary education level courses ("Belgium: Institution types & credentials" 2011)

Suggested formats for these instructional sessions will be presented by the International Committee on Biodiversity (ICB). But, the decision of how to conduct the class will be ultimately left up to the educators. Guidelines for different grade levels will be posted on ICB's official website. In order to help faculty conduct these sessions, ICB will develop a library of 6 - 10 minute videos that the educators can show in the beginning of each class. The original outline of video library is displayed below for grades 1 - 5 as an example.

Figure 1: Week of Biodiversity Topic Distribution by Grade
GradeProjected AgeTopics

    Day 1: Introduction to Biodiversity : Animal World

    Day 2: Endangered Marine Species: Engaging Demonstration

    Day 3: Endangered Forest Species: Engaging Demonstration

    Day 4: African Mammals: Engaging Demonstration

    Day 5: Why are animals important to us?


    Day 1: Introduction to Biodiversity: Plant and Animal World

    Day 2: Marine Wild Life: Plant and Animal Species Demonstration

    Day 3: Forest Wild Life: Plant and Animal Species Demonstration

    Day 4: African Wild Life: Plant and Animal Species Demonstration

    Day 5: Why is biodiversity important to us?


    Day 1: What is Biodiversity?

    Day 2: Species Around the World

    Day 3: What is an Ecosystem?

    Day 4: Why Are Ecosystems Important?

    Day 5: Why is Biodiversity in Ecosystems Important to Us?


    Day 1:What is Biodiversity?

    Day 2:Example of Ecosystems and their Function

    Day 3:Why is Biodiversity Important to Humans?

    Day 4:How do Humans Impact Biodiversity?

    Day 5:Making Connections: Tying Everything Together


    Day 1:What is Biodiversity and Biodiversity Loss?

    Day 2:Why is Biodiversity Important – Detailed Examples

    Day 3:History of Biodiversity Loss and Increase

    Day 4:What is Contributing to Biodiversity Loss?

    Day 5:What can we do?

These instructional videos are meant to be visually appealing and engaging. The complexity of their content will increase with grade level. These brief educational videos will make students aware of the connections between species on planet Earth and the connection those species have to the planet's function. As grade levels increase, these videos will also discuss economic and political connotations of biodiversity loss and the costs of doing nothing. These videos will attempt to battle common misconceptions regarding biodiversity and the ignorance pertaining to the effects of species loss on the human life. If instructors choose to not use these videos, lesson plans will be posted as suggestions on the CBD website.

Cost: The cost of creation of the 5 day curriculum will include costs for the following: creation of six to ten minute instructional videos for each age group, creating materials for educators, advertising the biodiversity week on ICB website.

ICB will divide lesson plans into 10 individual age groups and create 5 distinct 6-10 minute (an average of 8 minutes each) videos for each group. Fifty 8 minute videos would result in 400 minutes of instruction.

The creation of professional video costs between 535 USD and 4,000 USD per minute ("Video production costs, budgets", 2011). However, it is not necessary to create professional quality videos if there are budget constraints. There are already materials that exist for the purpose of biodiversity awareness education; these could be synthesized fairly easily to create videos. With these considerations, we estimate the maximum cost for a minute of the educational videos is 400 USD. We estimate the minimum cost for a minute of a video to be 50 USD per minute.

From the above minimum and maximum values:

Minimum cost : 20,000 USD

Maximum cost: 160,000 USD