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Sustainable Partnerships, Education and Agriculture.

INTRODUCING: The Sustainable Studies In Action Programme:
A proposed Environment Tobago project for 2021 and beyond...

The major principle behind the SSIA proposal and project in general, seeks to incorporate in a structured and creative manner, The 17 Sustainable Development Goals through the existing schools agricultural/ agri-science programme. Mainly finding sustainable partnerships which would in the long term contribute to execution of all of the objectives of this project.
An important aspect of this project and its objectives is to demonstrate through working partnerships the food and money potential of farming and sustainable agricultural practices.
In keeping with Environment Tobago’s constant push for incorporating the education system, this would target school leavers and students alike. It will also provide opportunities for adults to contribute to empower youth in developing sustainability in their practices.

The programme will be housed at the school farming facilities, as this is a readymade fit for such a model. Land usage for this programme would be easy to obtain through proper agreements with school principals, and the education division / and or ministry as the case may be. There are no foreseeable objections thus far to such an initiative.
SSIA can best described as a socio-climate/environmental action – project primarily aligned to the national agricultural and environmental science syllabi at the level of Secondary Schools. The beginning of this is to target the Tobago students and the school leavers
(after CXC Level) examinations have been completed.

The Approach to this Project is phased: Beginning in 2021 and culminating in 2029 the watershed year for the Sustainable Development Goals Agenda.
This phased approach will ultimately be dictated by the State's focus on particular SDGs. For instance through the Voluntary National Report
Trinidad and Tobago recently reported to the IPCCC on Goals #3, #4, #5, #8, #10, #13, #16 and #17. If this were executed at the time , ET/SSIA initiative would have been rolling out action exercises in Good Health and Well-being, Quality Education, Gender Equality, Decent work and Economic Growth, Reduced Inequalities, Climate Action, Peace Justice and Strong Institutions as well as Partnerships for the Goals
A point to note: The Government may not shift focus every year onward to 2030 (The proposed deadline for attaining the goals), therefore neither will the SSIA likely need to modify its initial programme and related action plans extensively or at all.

Project Scope And Key Action Areas: How do we intend to execute this project effectively? and what are the key elements of the proposed project?
The Education: The School’s element & role:
The Community: Agriculture and Farming approach:
The Market: The forum for produce to be purchased and monetized:
The Partners: This is directly linked to SDG17 – Sustainable Partnerships for the Goals, and by extension partners that would contribute to the execution of all action items in this project

The How – Explained Further:
In the economic history of Trinidad and Tobago, agriculture and agro-related education was therefore the school garden was largely relegated to teachers and students who were willing to occupy such spaces. This resulted in a lack of interest and involvement on a wider scale in the school’s and education system.
Outside or guest groups would have initiated educational programmes or projects on occasion. Environment Tobago is one such group, which contributed to this, utilizing several of Tobago's school gardens to engage its young minds to the sustainable use of the environment and nature.
Globally at this point, significant emphasis is placed on sustainability in every aspect of daily life. This fact is further confirmed by the domino-like fall and apparent failure of many businesses, and even industries.
This is due to changes in the global climate. Such vulnerabilities span even further than just economic downturns and effects of such. Health and well-being is have also been adversely affected as seen with the Coronavirus (Covid19) pandemic, and it’s global ripple effects. Within this scenario the importance of preparing the next generation for survival is even more so important than before.

This project can be the catalyst in revisiting how important the education system is in this push for economic and social survival. (In this case the Secondary School’s system)
Given the expected shortages in employment and any other gainful forms of income, it is now important to see the natural environment as being a support system in developing and improving the general quality of life. This in turn would create economic activities, and thus create employment on a long term basis.

Environment Tobago proposes and envisions this project as being a schools’ agriculture and science collective approach.
This will attenuate sustainable approaches to horticulture, agriculture and natural science where it feeds into building climate resilient thinking. Out of this we envision further initiatives being developed with an even broader scope to encompass more research and thus contributing to policy development as it relates to climate change adaptation on a national level.

Private Property and Property Owner Engagement as a small scale Pilot:
The proposed programme also incorporates a value chain understanding by virtue of having a farm and cottage industry class operation on private property.

The objective of this part of the project is to facilitate the flywheel effect, as goods from schools agriculture programme, can be added to goods from the farm to streamline volume quality and cost. The farm will also serve to provide a place for students (mainly the school levers or graduates), who would have had affinity with the concept of climate friendly agriculture or those want to acquire related skills. Additionally, the proposed farm activities will also enable a remuneration model so that goods from the schools can earn cash or kind where due.
Aside from conventional agriculture done unconventionally, the private property that houses the farm model and setup, will also demonstrate several disciplines that may not fit into the school model. (This can be documented as a limitation of the Education System & School’s agriculture model)
The plan is to involve robust agro-eco and forestry practices, manifested in the form of nature trail walks, wildlife farming, and organic produce. This will not stop at just agriculture, it can also encompass open air theatre and eco-entertainment, natural fashion product development, herbals, permaculture, aquaponics or anything else that suits the way of the world and its future, will be allowed to flourish in such a space.

Building Capacity through Social Enterprise:
Using a social enterprise model, the SSIA project will facilitate partnerships with buyers, sellers and any other aspect of networking that can assist the concept.
The key to meeting this objective is the development of SSIA's open classroom teaching the disciplines of production, marketing and profit. Last though no less important; the farm provides the hands-on skills training SSIA personnel will need to appreciate and to author triple bottom-line initiatives on their own afterward.

The BIOREACH philosophy and inclusion in the proposed project, and why it Important is to this operation?
Since this project (BIOREACH) is already approved by the Global Environmental Fund (GEF), demonstrates how important SSIA is to Tobago for starters, and by extension Trinidad and Tobago on a national level. Projects such as this are in keeping with the general agenda and objectives of BIOREACH, which are namely to make to promote biodiversity conservation and to restore degraded lands with a view of improving the livelihoods of rural communities in targeted productive landscapes.
In this case, we propose to use the BIOREACH model as a mainstay in this project. In due course SSIA will emphasize how important these landscapes and the important role biodiversity plays.
Biodiversity and productive landscapes face many threats however;
Their depletion therefore has an impact on livelihoods, health, agriculture, the environment. Through the SSIA project, we seek to make a valid contribution to the nation’s push for BIOREACH.
Green Space Development: This Project can and will act as an even further catalyst for green space development throughout Tobago.

Our Studio Operations and Output:
The media generating capacity of ET's social enterprise venture will assist with teaching students and teachers and with marketing produce and refined products by way of digital content being created. This studio operation is geared towards being a haven for not only SSIA but other innovative drives that can contribute to the education system’s push for virtual content and digitization.
Given the change in approach to education, Environment Tobago via SSIA will stay relevant and on top of things by becoming a leader in environmental education content.

This gives us an idea of the direction of our project output and intended goals for 2021 and beyond. Environment Tobago always welcomes your involvement, input and continues to be an advocate for the spirit of volunteerism.
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