RCE Greater Shangri-la - 2018

Waterschool China Programme
Basic Information
Title of project : 
Waterschool China Programme
Submitting RCE: 
RCE Greater Shangri-la
Contributing organization(s) : 
Shangri-la Institute for Sustainable Communities; Shangri-La Vocational College; Mianyang Teacher Training College; Southwest University
Format of project: 
Language of project: 
Date of submission:
The Waterschool China Programme contributed to the implementation of the first ever national guidelines on environmental education in China.
At what level is the policy operating?: 
Geographical & Education Information
Four watersheds – The Yangzte River , Yarlung Tsampo, Pearl River and The Hai River – across 12 provinces in China: Sichuan, Yunnan, Qinghai, Hebei, Shanghai, Guangdong, Beijing, Tibet, Jiangxi, Guangxi, Chongqing, Hubei, and Hunan.
Target Audience:
Socioeconomic and environmental characteristics of the area : 
Covering an area of 1.8 million square kilometres the Yangtze River Basin is the life source for about one-third of China’s population, as well as an array of flora and fauna, including many rare and endemic species such as the giant panda, black-necked crane, Yunnan golden monkey and the Yangtze finless porpoise. Population pressure and rapid economic development are causing increased pollution, threatening the ecosystems and
communities that depend on the Yangtze for survival. Urgent action is needed to ensure effective and sustainable protection of China's water resources such as Yangtze and other three watersheds where the programme is working
Description of sustainable development challenge(s) in the area the project addresses: 
China’s significant environmental, social and cultural challenges are already shaping the global struggle to protect the environment, with major impacts on global climate change, regional water shortages and pressures on globally threatened biodiversity and natural resources. In particular, culturally and biologically diverse areas such as Greater Shangri-La are of scientific, environmental and cultural value, but are among the most vulnerable in the country due to poverty, risk of overexploitation of natural resources, and a higher risk of cultural degradation of minority groups due to globalization and industrialization. In addition, the Chinese education system needs to be better equipped to deal with reorienting the population towards sustainable development.
January, 2008 to July, 2018
Local people are increasingly divorced from their water environment and feel powerless to control their natural environment and lack knowledge to take action The WS China Programme aims to address these problems through education, stakeholder engagement and community empowerment. The programme also funds community development and heritage preservation projects, such as a Tibetan all-women’s forest patrol team in Bazhu village, or the Qinghai Tibetan Children’s Newspaper in Qinghai.
The programme aims to restore the ecological integrity of key watersheds in china through effective public participation in sustainable water resource management. The programme aims to build community and school capacity through teacher training, school implementation, resource development, linking and learning, and community outreach to impact the maximum number of lives through lifelong learning and innovative, place-based education.
Activities and/or practices employed: 
The programme uses local indigenous knowledge from the area’s rich cultural heritage to embed a deep psychological link between communities and their natural heritage. It does this through teacher training and improving public participation in environmental issues, empowering local people to make changes in their local water environment. Examples of activities regularly organized include teacher training workshops and regular conferences, exchange trips between teachers and nature reserves staff, mandatory classroom hours on water education for participating schools, and school trips and after school activities for participating students, focusing on science, individual research projects, or on the cultural significance of protecting water resources. Cultural heritage preservation activities such as local handicrafts training for women, local dancing, and other cultural activities are also carried out. Participating schools and community groups are encouraged to go out into the community to carry out environmental protection, water protection and community outreach activities.
Size of academic audience: 
Since its inception, the programme has reached over 129000 students, 204000 community members and 1990 teachers across China.
The WS China program has empowered teachers in the project schools to teach about water and the environment in a place-specific, interactive, comprehensive way. However, the most tangible result of the project can be seen in the hundreds of thousands of teachers, students and community members who have been impacted by the program all across China.

This approach has resulted in environmental progress across many sites as well as progress in educational objectives. Just one example is the action of rural project schools located along tributaries of the Jianling River in Mianyang, Sichuan Province. The project schools carried out in-community action and information campaigns, successfully changing the community’s waste management behaviour – ridding them of their former waste disposal methods of throwing garbage into the river, and supported the village administration to establish its first ever garbage disposal system which is still in place without input from project teachers or staff.
Lessons learned: 
SISC, the implementing NGO behind the Waterschool China Project, developed immeasurably in the early years of the programme. The approach taken by SISC has involved painstaking stakeholder management, careful capacity building and strengthening of local partners, and building a network of passionate and empowered educators.
Key messages: 
WSC is not just an education programme – it’s a holistic approach to whole community learning about water, culture and the environment that has touched the lives of hundreds of thousands of young people, their teachers and their communities since its inception in 2008.
Relationship to other RCE activities: 
The Waterschool China Programme has built a solid network of educators, preservice teachers, local authorities and other stakeholders. The RCE provides collaboration, cooperation and experience sharing between shareholders at the regional, national and international levels related to the Greater Shangri-La region, many of whom have been actively involved in the Waterschool China Programme since its inception. Many of the schools and universities that are key members of the RCE have also been active and passionate members of the WS China network.
The programme is funded by Swarovski Waterschool, a global initiative spanning 6 countries.


File Name Caption for picture Photo Credit
Image icon Photo 1- Students in Shangri-la.jpg (1.26 MB) Three Girl Students in Shangri-la Lin Xiao
Image icon Photo 2 -Baiyang Primary School.jpg (1.31 MB) Students work in the community at Baiyang Primary School Huilan Xiong
Image icon Photo 3 - Kesong CLC.jpg (1.55 MB) Community Learning Center at Napahai wetland Xin Liao
UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
(https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs) and other themes of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)
SDG 2 - End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture 
SDG 3 - Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages 
SDG 4 - Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all 
SDG 5 - Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls 
SDG 6 - Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all 
SDG 10 - Reduce inequality within and among countries 
SDG 12 - Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns 
SDG 13 - Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts 
SDG 15 - Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss 
SDG 16 - Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels 
SDG 17 - Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development 
Traditional Knowledge  
Curriculum Development 
Plants & Animals 
Global Action Programme (GAP) on Education for Sustainable Development – Priority Action Areas
Priority Action Area 1 - Advancing policy 
Priority Action Area 2 - Transforming learning and training environments 
Priority Action Area 3 - Building capacities of educators and trainers 
Priority Action Area 4 - Empowering and mobilizing youth 
Priority Action Area 5 - Accelerating sustainable solutions at local level