OPEDUCA Activities
Virtual Youth Conference
Connecting young students across the globe, certainly where it comes to addressing and studying issues that make or break our sustainable development, is a key-value in The OPEDUCA Project.  Schools thereto join in virtual conferences in bridging continents and  have bilateral exchanges.

Virtual RCE Youth Conference
Regional perspective on Water and Sustainability

May 17th 2013 RCE Grand Rapids hosted the 1st Virtual RCE Youth Conference - empowering world's next generation of leaders on regional and universal issues.

6 RCEs from 3 continents joined to equippe the youth with the tools to communicate, collaborate, innovate and problem-solve in order to begin to address most complex issues of sustainability. The virtual conference gave students the perspective and practice of a global dialogue to better understand the unique water dilemmas facing the regions of the world and in turn reveal and embrace the universal themes of sustainable evolution through dialogue, empathy, and collaboration.

Concentration on the faces of the students of Stella Maris College (Netherlands), backed by their visionary Principal Jacques van Loo.

You need to know that we blew the walls out on peer education today!

The Virtual Conference was spectacular.  I sat for two hours and listened as students on three continents engaged each other in deep learning on issues with both local and global relevance. The technology worked flawlessly, the facilitation was just enough to ensure that all voices were heard, the students were attentive and asked probing questions of each other.

So today the world is a little smaller, and the future is a little brighter


George K. Heartwell

City of Grand Rapids

The world's dilemmas of tomorrow
will be faced by the youth of today

All, Congratulations to hugely successful first annual YVC Conference of the UNU RCEs!  A HUGE THANKS to all who took the risk and whose students are reaping the rewards.  We were able to connect students globally and focus their dialogue directly onto education for sustainable development!  Let us continue to connect and provide opportunities for students and educators to continue in this rich and inspiring dialogue.  Again, a GRAND THANK YOU for helping to create inspiring opportunities for tomorrow's leaders!

City High Middle School
RCE Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids

May 17th 2013 RCE Rhine-Meuse in coopeartion with American RCE's succesfully implemented the Youht Virtual Conference on Water. Mr. Ryan Huppert, Grand Rapids school improvement administrator, opened the Conference with the words: "This Conference seeks to give students the perspective and practice of a global dialogue in hopes that they will better understand the unique water dillemas facing the regions of the world and in turn reveal and embrace the universal themes of sustainable evolution through dialogue, empathy and collaboration". The American RCE'were presented by  RCE Grand Rapids (Michigan, USA), RCE Colombia (Medellin, Colombia), RCE Curitiba (Brasil) and RCE Saskatchewan (Canada). Teachers and students were welcomed to use Blackboard service to talk to each other, make PowerPoint presentations and chat the questions. The first presentation was done by the students from City High Middle School. They shared with the audience their knowledge of Quagga mussels and the Great Lakes. During the presentation they answered various questions, e.g.: what are Quagga mussels? how did they get here? what are they doing? how does this affect the ecosystem? etc. A couple of questions came from Canada and Colombia. Students there wished to know more about the positive effects of Quagga mussels but also kinds of cooperation that Canada and USA do together to solve the problems caused by mussels.

"We kregen de hele week les-vrij,
dus het was een leerzame week!"

Spannend, wij werden pas een week van te voren gevraagd om mee te doen aan deze conferentie en alle andere landen waren al maanden aan het voorbereiden! We waren daarom toch best zenuwachtig hoe we op zo een korte tijd een goede presentatie konden neerzetten. En dat ook nog eens als groep! In een week tijd zochten we informatie via internet en bereidden we ons voor om in gesprek te gaan met onze leeftijdgenoten in landen als de U.S.A., Canada, BraziliŽ, Colombia en Peru. In het begin was het moeilijk voor te stellen hoe alles zou gaan lopen, wat we te zien kregen etc. Om ons te verbreden en verdiepen in het onderwerp kregen we de hele week lessen vrij, dus het was wel een erg leerzame week.

We hebben het in deze conferentie onder andere gehad over waterproblemen op de wereld en wat voor een oplossingen wij ervoor hebben gevonden. Zo vertelde de U.S.A ons dat je met mosselen het water kunt zuiveren. Wij hebben verteld over onze polders, dijken, dammen, deltawerken, de afsluitdijk en het zuiveren van water.
Het is een speciale belevenis, omdat je gewoon een jongerenconferentie over de hele wereld hebt!

Frédérique Bollen

Students from

Colegio Montessori

(Colombia) told us about their research on Magdalena river. It is the principal river of Colombia, flowing northward about 1,528 km through the western half of the country. It takes its name from the biblical figure Mary Magdalene.
All the participants were widely informed about the existing environmental problems like indiscriminate poaching of wildlife, overfishing, deforestation, pollution by garbage and sewage, oil and heavy metals, illegal mining (i.e. mining in the Paramos). This tragic situation has already led to a decrease of drinking water, decrease of the fisherman working, a shortage of animals and forest products and river flooding. After all the Colombian students were asked to tell also about a water management in the region (the Netherlands), level of awareness within the general public about the problems in the river (Canada) and the long-term effects on the river (Grand Rapids).

Last but not least was the presentation on the Wascana Watershed done by students from Luther College High School. The water from the Wascana Watershed flows into the Qu 'Appelle river, which flows into the Winnipeg lake. Most water comes from snow melt and rain. It is unique because other watersheds usually have their water sources in the mountains. Without the man-made lake, the Wascana Creek would likely go dry during the summer.
Additionally they had to tell about the national or regional authority which checks and controls the pollution of the waters (the Netherlands) and initiatives that have begun in the community to address the Wascana Watershed related issues?
Although this was the first Conference, the students as well as their teachers were very positive with this first result, 'It works!' was a simple but so important conclusion. Already first lessons were learned about the organization and processing of this cross border learning


The Youth Committee of

RCE Curitiba-Paran

gave their presentation on Iguazu river. The Iguazu river is a river in Brazil and Argentina. It flows through the city of Curitiba to Iguazu falls and is an important tributary of the ParanŠ river. The Iguazu river is 1,320 km long, with a drainage basin of 62,000 square km. In July 2000 more than 4,000,000 litres of crude oil spilled into the river from a state-run oil refinery near Curitiba.The students highlighted the importance of our common action to prevent further environmental destruction. In this course we all as RCE's need to take action in the regions to:
-reinforce environmental ESD in all the schools at all levels,
-promote teachers training on ESD,
-create ESD portal/internet with the water quality evaluation results,
-promote ESD events to amplify community awareness,
-empower the media to make frequent insertions of ESD knowledge to motivate the citizens to participate more actively on the environmental preservation.
These young people received a lot of questions about (i) a sewage treatment plant which deals  with the domestic waste and pollution that is generated in the Iguazu river (Canada), (ii) collaborative actions which Brazil and Argentina have taken in order to improve the conditions (Colombia), (iii) the consequences within approximately 15 years (the Netherlands) and (iiii) associations that protect the river nowadays.

Stella Maris College was presenting as forth. Inge, Cid, Laura, Ingo, Frederique, Victor en Job made a discussion on the Dutch dykes. The Dutch have been building dykes since 1000 a.c. Primary dykes serve to protect against open waters. Secondary dykes serve to protect against inner waters. Once in 6 years a governmental organization called Rijkswaterstaat checks the dykes. Special attention was paid to the Delta Works. It is a series of construction projects in the southwest of the Netherlands to protect a large area of land. The Works consist of dams, sluices, locks, dikes, levees, and storm surge barriers.
After the presentation there was an interesting discussion on various issues related to the Dutch dykes: (i) how does the new fresh water lake affect salt water organisms that existed there before the dam was created? how would the rise of sea level due to global warming affect the Netherlands? (Canada); (ii) how have the dykes affected sea life? (Colombia); (iii) do the dykes keep most water out and have there been recent severe floods? (Grand Rapids); (iiii) when you change the landscape as you do (dikes, etc.) how do you manage the changes in the ecosystem (including interaction between species, for example? (Brasil).