RCE Greater Shangri-la - 2023

China Waterschool Programme
Basic Information
Title of project : 
China Waterschool Programme
Submitting RCE: 
RCE Greater Shangri-la
Contributing organization(s) : 
1. Shangri-La Institute for Sustainable Communities;
2. Mianyang Teacher Training College;
3. Southwest University;
Focal point(s) and affiliation(s)
Liu Yunhua
Organizational Affiliation: 
Director of Shangri-La Institute for Sustainable Communities
Format of project: 
Language of project: 
Date of submission:
Additional resources: 
WeChat Account: Water Education_CHN
The China Waterschool 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 Yangtze River, Yarlong Tsangbo, 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.
Address of focal point institution for project: 
Room 101, Floor 1-5 Building 351, Shuianzhuangyuan, Chaoyang District, Beijing, China 100022
Target Audience:
Socioeconomic and environmental characteristics of the area : 
Covering an area of 1.8 million square kilometers the Yangtze River Basin is the source of life 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 program 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, 2020 to March, 2023
China is one of the largest developing countries with a great number of populations. The diversity of its ecosystems, landscapes, cultures, traditions and ethnic groups is extraordinary. As same as the oriental traditions, the different ethnic groups have strong belief systems and accumulated experiences for generations to live harmoniously with the rest of nature. For instance, the Tibetan Plateau is called Asian Water Tower because of its surrounding diverse landscapes such as the uncountable snowcapped mountain ridges with a wide range of glaciers. It is also the sources of Yangtze River, Yellow River, Salween River and Yarlong Tsangbo River etc in China. Most importantly, the culture there is to seek a spiritual level of sustainability by not only caring the elements of nature itself but also the awareness of inner development with the wisdom and compassionate. However, current rapid development of industrialization and globalization brought them both advantages and disadvantages. The modern technology provided them a lot of conveniences and materialistic benefits for their lives but it simultaneously caused a tremendous environmental degradations, water pollutions and even to mislead their believe systems into an unsound state. Therefore, channels needed to promote the ideas and actions of ESD for them to regain the cultural confidence and this is the main reason that the program to cooperate with the Tibetan Children’s Newspaper as one of the best readers with a high reputation among its people. In the year of 2022, the newspaper implemented a Tibetan calligraphy competition among more than 100 elementary and secondary schools. About 400 students directly participated in this activity to promote the importance of culture revitalization, nature and wildlife protection, sanitation and hygiene, nomadic culture and sustainable lifestyle, clean water access and tree plantation etc.

The water school students, teachers and community members continued to develop and implement a diverse project activities based on their local culture and promising UN SDGs though the outbreak of coronavirus with the strict rules has brought a tremendous pressure to carry out the project plans smoothly.

The students from Capital Normal University in Beijing with their tutors designed and developed resources of local teaching materials that contribute to increase substantially the supply of qualified teachers, including through international cooperation for teacher training in developing countries whilst their actual actions to improve the water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reusing in Beijing City as a project pilot.

The Community Learning Centers (CLCs) in Bazhu Village, Wuzhu Village, BMXS Nature Reserve, ESD Center of Dongzhulin Monastery in Yunnan Province, ESD Center in Tibet University and CLC in Qinghai Province carried out a series of activities, for example, education and capacity building programs that focused on traditional culture revitalization, sustainable management of nature resources, sustainable agriculture and ecotourism etc to ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development. The community members at different regions took actions to protect the sources of waters from pollution, mining and unsustainable industrialization. The programme also funded and organized a Tibetan Calligraphy Competition Activity among the students from all over the Tibet in China with the editors of Tibetan Children’s Newspaper.
The programme aims to restore the ecological integrity of key watersheds in China through effective public participation in sustainable water resource management. The programme also 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, innovative and place-based education.
Activities and/or practices employed: 
The programme uses local indigenous knowledge from the areas with rich of 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, school curriculum development, regular conferences, exchange trips between teachers and rangers of nature reserves. Cultural heritage preservation activities are such as local handicraft training for women, Tibetan calligraphy competition, Tibetan language training for villagers, local dancing and music etc,.
Size of academic audience: 
Since its inception, the programme has reached over 130000 students, 210000 community members and 100 schools across China.
The WS China programme 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. For example, Education College of Capital Normal University in Beijing City, the students’ team for designing and developing ESD curriculums by using ADDIE model tried to reveal how the Yongding River Cultural belt has an impact on the industry of the Moshikou Block. The specific process is to understand the development history of the West Beijing culture of Moshikou, analyze the main location factors that promote the formation and development of the Moshikou cultural and creative industry, explore the transformation road of the Moshikou industry, investigate the development status of the Moshikou cultural and creative industry, and put forward suggestions for its future sustainable development. In this process, students reflected on their past actions, made solutions and decisions, and took actions to deeply understand the relationship between cities, industries and regional development.
Lessons learned: 
Shangri-La Institute for Sustainable Communities, the implementing NGO behind the China Waterschool Programme, has 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: 
China Waterschool Programme 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: 
China Waterschool 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 China Waterschool 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 China Waterschool 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 are practising Tibetan calligraphy in Qinghai Province.jpg (3.66 MB) Photo 1 - Students are practicing Tibetan calligraphy in Qinghai Province Wande Gongba
Image icon Photo 2 - Students are watering their eco-garden in Yunnan Province.jpeg (9.26 MB) Photo 2 - Students are watering their eco-garden in Yunnan Province Wande Gongba
Image icon Photo 3 - Local people are offering water deities to protect water sources in traditional way in Sichuan Province.jpeg (7.07 MB) Photo 3 - Local people are offering water deities to protect water sources in traditional way in Sichuan Province Wande Gongba
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 17 - Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development 
Disaster Risk Reduction 
Traditional Knowledge  
Curriculum Development 
Plants & Animals 
ESD for 2030-Priority Action Areas
Priority Action Area 1 - Advancing policy 
Priority Action Area 2 - Transforming learning and training environments 
Priority Action Area 3 - Developing capacities of educators and trainers 
Priority Action Area 4 - Mobilizing youth 
Priority Action Area 5 - Accelerating sustainable solutions at local level 
I acknowledge the above: