Concept Of the V International Conference of UNESCO associated schools “Ob-Irtysh River Basin: the Youth Studying and Preserving Natural and Cultural Heritage in the Regions of the World’s Great Rivers” and the VIII District Youth Ecological Forum “Preserving Ugra’s Blooming World” 2012

1. General Information

The International Conference of UNESCO associated schools Ob-Irtysh River Basin: the Youth Studying and Preserving Natural and Cultural Heritage in the Regions of the World’s Great Rivers”, the VIII District Youth Ecological Forum “Preserving Ugra’s Blooming World” are held within the framework of the X International Ecological Action “To Save and Preserve”, constituted by the Government of Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug – Yugra.

The Conference and Forum are organized by the Commission of the Russian Federation for UNESCO and the Government of Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug – Yugra.

The institutors are: the Department of Ecology of the autonomous okrug, the Department of Public relations of the autonomous okrug.

The International Conference of Unesco associated schools has been held since 2008 in the autonomous okrug (the city of Khanty-Mansiysk) under the aegis of UNESCO. The Forum “Preserving Ugra’s Blooming World” has been held since 2004. Since 2009 these events have been organized together under a single program.

The participants of the Conference are students of UNESCO associated schools of the Russian Federation, countries of the former Soviet Union, and foreign countries. The participants of the Forum are students of educational institutions, members of social ecological associations and school forestries of Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug – Yugra.

The age of the participants is from 15 to 19 years.

The theme of the Conference and Forum is “Natural and Cultural Heritage of World Nations”. The theme of the Forum corresponds to the subjects of the X IEA “To Save and Preserve” which is to be held in Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug from May 19 to June 9, 2012.

2. Purpose and Tasks

The purpose of the Conference and Forum is to provide an opportunity for the youth to converse and solve conjointly the problems of preserving the natural and cultural heritage of the nations within the framework of the interregional and international cooperation.

Tasks of the Forum:

  • engagement of the youth into the activity aimed at preserving the natural and cultural heritage of the regions;
  • developing potential of the young generation by means of ecological education and instruction for the purpose of sustainable development;
  • providing support and encouragement for the young people conducting socially important ecological activity;
  • analysis of the interregional and international youth ecological associations’ experience in the environment-related and cultural activities.

3. Conceptual Approaches

The program has been developed with allowance for the following approaches:

Scientific-methodological approaches

Ecological education and instruction should be based on the concept of sustainable development. Not only the natural processes and human influence on them should be considered but also economic patterns, lifestyles, social structure – the issues where social, cultural and ecological problems are tightly interlaced – and so they can be only unraveled in conjunction.

The development of the scientific-methodological component of the events should be based on the patterns and techniques of the education for sustainable development, which will significantly increase the efficiency of the educational component of the Conference and Forum. The most applicable approaches are as follows:

  • interactive pedagogical methods and techniques, i.e. those being the most efficient in enabling productive communication and interaction;
  • business and creative games involving formation of small groups for cooperation;
  • Round tables to discuss issues of organizing the activities for ecological education and instruction in the regions (problems, prospects, innovations, new efficient techniques).

Psychological and pedagogical approaches

The program should be developed taking into account the age particularities of psychological and physical development of the adolescents participating in the Conference and Forum. The main participants of the Forum are young people of 15 – 19 years old. It should be noted that a specific pattern of behavior is typical for adolescents of this age – it is an intermediate stage between children’s playing and serious activity – the stage of “serious playing”. The periods of physical, intellectual and creative activity should be distributed evenly; it is necessary to incorporate events organized as business and interactive games where teenagers themselves will set up and solve urgent regional and global problems.

Cultural and educational approach

While organizing cultural and educational events the theme of an event as well as ethnocultural and natural peculiarities of the region should be taken into account. Events at the interface of performance and intellectual projects, providing both impressive implementation and rich content, excursion programs for the purpose of familiarization with objects of interest, events held the in areas related to national peculiarities, way of life, history, and culture of Yugra (parks, museums, Centre of Arts for Gifted Children of the North, etc.) can prove to be the most efficient ones. The best results in the self-fulfillment of adolescents can be achieved by means of the events involving counterparts from other regions of the country and world. Interregional and international events raise cognitive and creative activity, contribute to social exchange, and create better possibilities for self-presentation and self-determination.

4. Conceptual History

Until recently the notions of culture and nature were contraposed to each other: culture represented the world of the man, while nature was considered to be something opposite to culture, an object of harnessing and technical effort of the man. However, nature and culture complement each other: culture has a great impact on the evolution of the biosphere while the development of culture is in its turn determined by natural factors. Just as the biosphere is transformed into the noosphere (V.I.Vernadskiy), nature “turns into” culture. It also means that the attitude of the man toward nature is to become the main criteria of the culture development.

States willingly commit themselves to protect and preserve the heritage for the whole humanity within their boundaries, as well as to support other states in their efforts to protect the heritage. Along with countries, individuals are also the target group of the Convention. First of all, young people should be made familiar with the world heritage and its preservation by means of public work and educational programs, as no one will preserve the heritage he or she does not know about.

The cultural and natural heritage of Russia is actively involved into the world cultural space. Our country is a full-fledged member of such reputable international organizations as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and cultural Organization (UNESCO), the International Council of Museums (ICOM), the International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS). A lot of unique monuments of Russia are under the auspices of these organizations. Today’s national researches are developing new methodological approaches to the protection of the cultural and natural heritage, which correspond to the international level. The prospects of the Russian heritage protection practice involve preservation of unique areas with an integrated restoration of historical and cultural monuments, traditional economy and natural resource management.