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Hot Topics

Exploring current issues in the classroom

This feature was developed by Resources for Rethinking to connect students to some of the efforts being made to solve important problems that are affecting our planet. Hot Topics are published during the school year to coincide with the timing of national and international campaigns taking place to raise awareness of these key issues.

Each Hot Topic edition includes links to classroom materials from theResources for Rethinking database that will encourage students and teachers to explore the environmental, economic and social dimensions of these issues and to take action in support of the larger campaign.

Hot Topics Calendar

UN International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer

September 16

Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup

Fall 2019

World Food Day

October 16


Waste Reduction Week

October 21-27


World Fisheries Day

November 21


Buy Nothing Day

November 29


COP 25: UN Climate Change Conference

December 2-13, 2019

World Wetlands Day

February 2


World Day of Social Justice

February 20


World Water Day

March 22

Earth Hour

March 28

8:30-9:30pm

Earth Day

April 22


International Day for Biological Diversity

May 22

Canadian Environment Week

June 5-8


National Indigenous Peoples Day

June 21


World Day of Social Justice
February 20, 2020

World Day of Social Justice was initiated by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 2007 to encourage support for international efforts in poverty eradication, the promotion of full employment, gender equity and justice for all. This year’s theme “Closing the Inequalities Gap to Achieve Social Justice” provides students and teachers with an excellent opportunity to focus attention the issue of fair employment along with the other barriers to social well-being that millions of people face because of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture or disability.

Why Care About Social Justice:

o Over 60 per cent of all workers lack any kind of employment contract. (UN)

o By 2019, more than 212 million people were out of work, up from 201 million in previous years. (UN)

o Over 1.5 million children under the age of 5 die each year from vaccine-preventable diseases. (WHO)

o There are currently 800 million people who do not have access to safe drinking water. (UNESCO)

o Armed forces in 20 countries are recruiting child soldiers under the age of 18. (Child Soldiers International)

o The tuberculosis rate among Canada’s First Nations ranges from 10 to 30 times higher than that of the population as a whole. (CBC)

o Eighty-two million girls now aged 10 to 17 will be married before their 18th birthday (UNFP).

o One hundred million more women would be alive today if females had equal access to nutrition and health care. (WHO)

o Of the 4.5 million refugees forced to flee Syria, over one million are children. (UNHRC)

o The gap between rich and poor within and among nations continues to grow and promote conflict.

o Social justice is an underlying principle for peaceful and prosperous coexistence within and among nations

o A sustainable future involves meeting the needs of all people.

Resources 4 Rethinking encourages students and teachers to participate in World Day of Social Justice. Top R4R Picks will connect you to some excellent resources to support these efforts.

For More Information visit World Day of Social Justice.

World Water Day:
March 22nd, 2020

World Water Day was conceived during the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Since then the goal of the annual celebration has been to draw international attention to the need for sustainable management of this vital resource. Each year World Water Day places attention on a different aspect of freshwater. This year’s theme, “Water and Climate Change” will focus attention how global climate change is impacting the availability, quality and sustainability of fresh water.

World Water Day 2020 provides teachers and students with excellent opportunities to explore the role of water in sustaining life, to understand its inextricable connection to climate change and to become involved in water and climate change issues within their own communities.

Why Care about World Water Day? 

• Clean, freshwater is a basic requirement for all life

• While 70% of the earth’s surface is covered with water, less than .003% of this water is potable.

• Today, > 2.1 billion people live without access to safe drinking water. (UN Water, 2018)

• Everyday women spend >200 million hours carrying water

• Canada ranks second in the world in per capita use of water (Conference Board of Canada, 2018)

• For many of the 400,000 Canadians living on First Nations reserves, access to safe drinking water remains a major challenge

• Water is an integral part of the earth’s web of ecosystems, providing critical habitat for wildlife.

• Canadians depend on healthy aquatic ecosystems to provide essential economic and social services

• The earth’s fresh water resources are facing increasing threats related to climate change (UN Water, 2019)

• Extreme weather events are making water more scarce, more unpredictable and more polluted.

• Currently, a growing demand for water is increasing the need for energy-intensive practices (pumping, transportation & treatment) that contribute to global warming.

Resources 4 Rethinking encourages students and teachers to participate in World Water Day. Top R4R Picks will connect you to some excellent resources to support these efforts. 

For more information and ideas be sure to check out World Water Day

Earth Day
April 22nd, 2020

2020 marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day!  It is expected that 6 million Canadians will join what has become the largest environmental movement on the planet and participate in Earth Day events and activities.  Since 1970, Earth Day organizers around the world have celebrated on April 22 by staging events and projects that encourage citizens to address important environmental issues. The global theme for Earth Day 2020 is climate action.

Schools have played an increasingly significant role in celebrating Earth Day and it is hoped that every child will have the opportunity to take part in Earth Day activities. 

Why Celebrate Earth Day?

  • Earth Day draws attention to the planet and our dependence on it for survival.
  • Earth Day can raise awareness of key environmental problems that threaten earth’s ability to support life. 
  • Climate change represents the biggest challenge to the future of humanity and the life-support systems that make our planet habitable. (Earthday.org 2020)
  • Earth Day can highlight the importance of sustainable development and promote the necessary changes in human practice to achieve its results.
  • Earth Day can provide the motivation and opportunity for participants to take action to improve the environment of their local communities.
  • Earth Day presents an excellent interdisciplinary theme for schools to celebrate.
  • Earth Day celebrations give schools a great opportunity to model environmental stewardship.

Resources 4 Rethinking encourages students and teachers to participate in Earth Day 2020. Top R4R Picks will connect you to some excellent resources to support these efforts.

For more information and activities be sure to check out the Earth Day Canada website or Earthday.org.

Canadian Environment Week:
June 1-8, 2020

Canadian Environment Week: June 1 to June 8

Canadian Environment Week was established in 1971 as a way of recognizing Canada's environmental achievements and to encourage Canadians to contribute to the conservation and protection of their environment. It is celebrated annually during the first week of June to coincide with World Environment Day.  Other highlights connected to this national, week-long event include Clean Air Day (June 3) and World Oceans Day on June 8. 

World Environment Day was established by the United Nations in 1972 to raise awareness and encourage global action on behalf of the environment.  This single largest, global celebration of our environment takes place each year on June 5th. In 2020 Columbia will host World Environment Day celebrations, in cooperation with Germany. This year’s theme is Biodiversity.

World Environment Day and Canadian Environment Week provide many opportunities for teachers and students to investigate a range of important environmental issues and bring about positive changes within their own communities.

Why Participate in Canadian Environment Week & World Environment Day?

  • Canadian Environment Week can help focus attention on important issues related to our environment and our quality of life.
  • Participation in Canadian Environment Week can demonstrate the importance of individual efforts in caring for the environment.
  • Canadian Environment Week can provide opportunities to recognize our shortcomings and celebrate our achievements in protecting the environment.
  • Canadian Environment Week is a great time for students to get outside and make real contributions to improve local environments.

Resources 4 Rethinking encourages students and teachers to participate in the Canadian Environment Week.  Top R4R Picks will connect you to some excellent resources to support these efforts.

For more information and activities to support this special week, be sure to check: