With the world experiencing more frequent and more extreme weather events, climate change education is more important than ever before – a fact increasingly recognised by governments and many stakeholders working in the field of education.
Education can encourage people to change their attitudes and behaviour. It teaches them about the impacts of climate change and how to adapt to it. Education means the voting public can evaluate the soundness of government climate policy decisions; media outlets are empowered to provide reliable, science- and fact-based information on climate change; and consumers of that information can readily distinguish facts from falsehoods.
In addition, education means addressing inequalities, particularly for women and girls who are often disproportionally affected by the climate crisis.
The International Day of Education is an opportunity to take a deeper look at why climate change education is so critical and how UN Climate Change is increasingly working with governments and other key stakeholders to realise everyone’s fundamental right to education, including the implementation of, and universal access to, gender-responsive climate education.
Progress made at COP26 on education for climate action
One of the major areas of work on climate education under the UN Climate Change process is Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE), which includes climate education and public awareness as two of its six elements. At the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow in 2021, governments adopted the Glasgow work programme on ACE to further strengthen and accelerate the implementation of ACE.
Through the Glasgow work programme, countries and companies are, for example, to be put in a better position to build an appropriately skilled workforce for the just transition to low-carbon, climate-resilient economies and societies and university graduates are to be enabled to understand how their chosen profession can contribute to the cause of and solutions to the climate crisis.
The work programme also ensures UN Climate Change will continue to share good practices and lessons learned on climate education through an annual ACE dialogue. During the last ACE Dialogue, which took place in 2020, participants from various countries around the world shared their experiences of integrating climate change into school curricula and training teachers to be climate educators.
Partnering with Universities to Build Resilience
The UN Climate Change and Universities Partnership Programme further underscores the importance of climate education as it strengthens collaboration between the UN Climate Change secretariat and universities or academic institutions and relevant local, national and regional partner organisations. The programme addresses knowledge gaps, which remain a critical barrier to countries implementing adaptation measures.
The Programme, coordinated by the Nairobi work programme, gives graduate students the opportunity to work closely with local, national and regional partners in undertaking a research project as part of their master’s thesis in countries including the Seychelles, Nepal, Peru and Namibia. Research projects also take place in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region and North Africa subregions. The projects are focused on producing tangible outputs to enable countries and subregions to adapt to climate change.
Indigenous Knowledge Systems are Vital in the Fight Against Climate Change
Another relevant area of work within the UN Climate Change process is the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform (LCIPP). This platform empowers governments and Indigenous Peoples Organisations to share knowledge and best practices when it comes to climate change policies and action.
Under the new workplan agreed at COP26, the Facilitative Working Group (FWG) of the LCIPP will continue to identify and disseminate information about development and use of curricula and materials generated by indigenous peoples related to climate change, including guidelines on ethical and equitable use of natural resources. The Platform’s working group will also convene a round-table dialogue in June this year and engage indigenous educators, ministers of education and academic institutions to promote greater understanding of indigenous knowledge and its importance in the global fight against climate change.
Showcasing inspiring stories
In addition, UN Climate Change regularly seeks out and shares inspiring stories on what governments, local councils, civil society organisations and other stakeholders are doing to strengthen education and public awareness on climate change locally and regionally.
Courtesy: UN Climate Change Secretariat