Community / Press Release

Willingdon School to take part in upcoming CBD COP15 conference

kathleen and student
Montreal - Friday, December 2, 2022

When the world comes together this December for the CBD COP15 conference on Biodiversity, amongst the delegates will be one lucky student from Willingdon  Elementary School in NDG’s Green Committee.

On Monday, December 12, Grade 6 student Violet Lamoureux will have the opportunity to join the UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) main finance negotiator, Jessica Smith, at the conference. While in attendance, Violet will livestream her experience back to the Grade 6 Green Committee at Willingdon to the school’s partner school in Kunming, China,  as well as to others  across the English  Montreal School Board network

Organized by Willingdon teacher Dr. Kathleen Usher, the project goes beyond a day at the conference. In advance of CBD COP15, Dr. Usher has worked with Hanying Li, Regional Vice-Chair - East Asia for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Commission on Education and Communication (IUCN CEC) on a project that will see primary school-aged children from the two host cities (Montreal and Kunming) connect with each other and with the international delegates attending the conference.

As such, in preparation for the conference, the Willingdon Grade 6 Green Committee and primary school students in Kunming have been learning about biodiversity, biodiversity loss and the CBD COP15. Both groups have made short videos answering the same questions about their fears about biodiversity loss, their hopes for a brighter future and what message they want to send to the leaders meeting at CBD COP15. Additionally, this video will be shown at the conference and will also be included on the IUCN CEC youth television channel.

“In my practice as an environmental educator working with very young children, I strive to strike a balance where children are afforded experiences in their local environment that instill wonder and peace while also exposing the dire state of our planet’s ecosystems and changing climate,” said Dr. Usher. “Given that the CBD COP15 conference started in Kunming, China the idea of twinning primary schools in our respective cities presented itself as an opportunity to provide conference attendees with a youthful reminder of why their commitment to setting ambitious targets is so important.”

In addition, over the course of this school year, Willingdon’s Grade 6 Green Committee will stay in touch with their Chinese counterparts as well as with Hanying li and Jessica Smith. Artwork and texts have been produced and will also serve to communicate the young students’ understanding of biodiversity loss and the importance of an urgent global response. Students at Willingdon will also explore how they can contribute to biodiversity protection projects in their neighbourhood and commit to supporting NGOs promoting awareness around biodiversity loss such as the Nature Conservancy Canada and the World Wildlife Fund.

About the English Montreal School Board

With a youth and adult sector population of more than 35,000 students, the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) is the largest English public school board in Quebec. Established on July 1, 1998, when the province created new boards along linguistic lines, the EMSB network consists of 77 schools and centres. For more details, visit the EMSB website at