SADC Regional Environmental Education Programme

Learning for a Sustainable Future

The Southern African Development Community Regional Environmental Education Programme (SADC REEP), now in existence for Seventeen Years was represented at the UNESCO World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), Japan in November 2014.  The Conference marks the end of the UN Decade on Education for Sustainable Development (UNDESD), 2005-2014, and the launch of a new Global Action Programme for Education for Sustainable Development whose overall goal is “to generate and scale-up action in all levels and areas of education and learning in order to accelerate progress towards sustainable development”.  The programme was selected as one of five official exhibitions for Africa at the World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development.  Representatives coordinated a workshop on ESD Policy, and were involved in the Global Regional Centres of Expertise Pre-Conference, which a number of SADC Regional Centres of Expertise (RCEs) participated in.  SADC REEP also participated in the Post-Conference on ESD and Teacher Education, where the SADC ESD Teacher Education Network's activities were showcased. As evidence of its contribution to ESD over the years and to the UN Decade on Education for Sustainable Development, the SADC REEP showcased some of its recent publications that follow: 

 ‘Learning Today for Tomorrow: Sustainable Development Learning Processes in Sub-Saharan Africa ', by Justin Lupele and Heila Lotz-Sisitka.  This book uses cases and literature review to provide an overview of environment and sustainability learning processes in Sub-Saharan Africa. It scopes what is known about these learning processes, and develops a conceptual framework for further research in this area. The report also suggests that environment and sustainability learning processes, when carefully considered, may contribute significantly to improvement of educational quality and relevance in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

'Reviews on Social Learning Literature: A Monograph for Social Learning Researchers in Natural Resources Management and Environmental Education'. Edited by Heila Lotz-Sisitka, with foreword by Arjen E. Wals. This monograph provides four different views on social learning literature. Rather than seeking to be comprehensive, the reviews provide views on the social learning literature, providing access to a wide body of literature(s) on social learning. This monograph should be useful for researchers interested in social learning in the fields of environmental education and natural resources management. 

'Future Capacity Building: Capacity Assessment for Environmental Policy Implementation'.  Mutizwa Mukute et al.  This report presents the key findings, conclusions and recommendations of a study that was conducted to assess the capacities of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and its Member States (Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe) to implement international environment, sustainable development and education agreements.  The purpose of the report is to inform and increase the relevance, effectiveness and impact of capacity building for policy implementation. 

'Learning for a Sustainable Future: Fifteen Years of Swedish-SADC Co-operation in Environment and Sustainability Education'. This report on fifteen years of the programme's implementation captures the story and contents of the programme over this time.  The history starts from the time that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) leadership recognised the importance of environmental education in responding to environmental challenges posed by the prevailing industrial and extractive development paradigm that left out the environment in its considerations. The leadership believed that enabling trans-national co-operation in responding to environment and development issues was requisite for a sustainable future. To this end they set up the SADC Regional Environmental Education Programme through a successful partnership with Sweden in 1996/7 up to 2012. The story told in this book is of the 15 year SADC-Sida partnership. It is also a story of the kinds of relationships and practices that need to be developed if humanity is to learn to build a sustainable future. 

 Since 2013, the SADC REEP have collaborated with the German Federal Enterprise for International Cooperation (GIZ) to develop an innovative capacity building programme on 'Climate Change Adaptation in Trans-frontier Conservation Areas in southern Africa'. The main component of this programme is a course on climate change adaptation that is specifically designed for southern African trans-frontier conservation areas (TFCAs). The course is designed for a range of stakeholders who seek to strengthen climate change adaptation and mitigation practices in conservation contexts. The course is geared for reflexive engagement with own practice, is interactive, based on practical pedagogical approaches, and is designed to actively facilitate workplace-based and community-based action and change in practice towards sustainability and adaptation. The course is constituted of four on-course modules and a workplace based assignment. Part of the course entails developing a deeper understanding of climate concepts and issues through interpreting climate data and using these to assess climate risk and vulnerability, plan and implement climate change adaptation strategies, use adaptive management approaches as well as enhance understanding and use of participation strategies in climate change adaptation. The course has involved 39 practitioners from 18 TFCAs across 15 SADC countries working on 18 change projects on adaptation to climate change on the TFCAs. Each change projects spans across the countries involved in the TFCA and the members are involved in parts of the change project. To this end, the change project is enhancing collaboration at TFCA level that is contributing to transnational collaboration, an outcome of the SADC Agenda.


Background to SADC-REEP

In 1993, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Environment and Land Management Sector (ELMS) initiated a programme to support environmental education processes in the southern African region. The initial phase of this programme entailed a series of workshops for environmental education practitioners in the region. The workshops sought to build capacity for environmental education but also sought to establish the form of environmental education needs for the SADC sub-region. The first workshop was held in Windhoek, Namibia in 1994 and the second in Howick, South Africa in 1996. These workshops were complemented by other research processes designed to assess the state of environmental education in the region. Based on information gathered during this initial phase a formal programme document was developed and submitted to the SADC Council of Ministers for approval.

The Council of Ministers ratified the proposal and agreed that the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA) should act as implementing agency of the programme. The SADC Regional Environmental Education Programme is a project of the SADC Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources (FANR) Directorate.

Following approval in August 1996 the document was finalised in December 1996 (Harare) and submitted to the Swedish International Development Developing Agency (Sida) for funding. Sida found the Programme’s recommendations appropriate for responding to the urgent need for environmental education processes in the SADC region and agreed to fund the first three years of operation from July 1997 to June 2000.

In 2001, after participatory discussions the programme document was further developed and approved by the SADC REEP National Network Representatives in April 2001. Sida funded the second phase of the programme from 2002 to 2005, with two extensions in 2006 and 2007. A new project proposal was submitted to Sida, and the Programme was funded to the end of 2012. At some period, the Royal Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Danida), USAID and IUCN (The World Conservation Union), also provided financial support for different components of the Programme.

In 2013, through a partnership with GIZ, SADC REEP embarked on a programme to strengthen mainstreaming of adaptation to climate change in trans-frontier conservations areas.

Programme Structure

The purpose of the SADC Regional Environmental Education (EE) Programme is to enable environmental education practitioners in the SADC region to strengthen environmental education processes for equitable and sustainable environmental management choices. This will be achieved through enhanced and strengthened environmental education policy, networking, mainstreaming environmental education in resource materials development and use, training and capacity development, as well as research and evaluation.

To this end, the SADC Regional Environmental Education Programme is implemented through five strands or components, each with different sub-projects. Each component implementation is guided by its specific objectives as follows:

 Networking and Partnerships

To support Environmental Education (EE) and Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) processes through developing partnerships, networking, seed funding, knowledge resources, exchange and interactions and building of the capacity for these among EE and ESD practitioners within the SADC region and beyond.


To create an enabling environment for policy synergy and inclusion of environmental and sustainable development concerns into regional, national and institutional education policies, strategies and systems and to include EE and ESD into regional and national development plans.

Training (Capacity Building)

To support individual as well as institutional professional capacity building processes to respond to environmental and sustainable development challenges through improved EE and ESD processes.

Resource Materials Development 

To support the development of institutional and professional capacity within the SADC region to access, use and develop appropriate EE and ESD resource materials including appropriate innovations in information and communication technologies (ICTs).

Evaluation and Research

To support evaluation, research, and innovation in EE and ESD processes through enhanced research and evaluation capacity as well as enhanced reflexive practice at the regional and national and institutional level.

Southern African Development Community (SADC) Countries


SADC REEP - South African Development Community Countries

SADC Regional Environmental Education Programme