POSTED November 15, 2022
COP27 highlights the worldwide impact of climate change on education
Our technical advisor on education reflects on the influence of the United Nations Conference held last week
By Mona Ghali, PhD., technical advisor, education, Canada
The United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP27) convened last week in Sharm el Sheikh Egypt, again highlighting the existential threat posed by climate change.
Noticeably different from earlier COP meetings was the expressed urgency for climate change education as integral to mitigation and adaptation efforts.
As a result, more than 40 side events highlighted climate-change education. Discussions covered myriad topics, including:
- diverse interventions for climate-smart education systems
- nature-based teaching
- greening curricula
- teacher training
- upskilling for green jobs
These meetings signal the important role education systems have in conveying knowledge, socializing children and youth in environmental ethics and transforming behaviour.
Action is needed as UNICEF’s Climate Risk Index suggests about one-billion children (or half of the world’s children) live in extremely high-risk countries located mainly in Central America, Africa and South Asia.
Children Believe’s six countries of operation ranked extremely high (Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, India), high (Ghana) and medium-high risk (Nicaragua and Paraguay) on the index.
We’re working in our programs with communities contending with droughts (Ethiopia) coastal flooding (Nicaragua, Ghana) as well as more extreme wet and dry periods (Burkina Faso, India). This is already translating to intergenerational changes due to food insecurity, human migration and armed conflict.
Yet, these countries, like other low- and middle-income states, make relatively small contributions to global greenhouse gases emissions on a per capita basis as compared with high-income states such as Canada. So, action is needed to support education around the world, such as…
- retrofitting schools
- building climate-resilient infrastructure
- updating curricula to engage with the sciences, humanities and the arts
There is a risk curricular reforms will become modules teachers are obligated to deliver in an already crowded curriculum stacked with other priorities — from foundational learning to digital and financial literacies. So, to avoid canonizing environmental issues, climate-change education dictates reimagining actions, behaviour and relations with all living beings holistically.
Children Believe is reflecting on the implications of these issues for its educational priorities and programming.
We continue to work with our local partners on environmental awareness education, training youth in environmental-friendly employment skills, tree-planting and gardening in schools and communities.
Collectively, our efforts support green communities — one of the core pillars of UNESCO’s new Greening Education Partnership launched at September’s Transforming Education Summit and reiterated at COP27 — and enable children to live more constructively and ethically.
ABOUT CHILDREN BELIEVE:
Children Believe works globally to empower children to dream fearlessly, stand up for what they believe in — and be heard. For 60+ years, we’ve brought together brave young dreamers, caring supporters and partners, and unabashed idealists. Together, we’re driven by a common belief: creating access to education — inside and outside of classrooms — is the most powerful tool children can use to change their world.
About ChildFund Alliance:
A member of ChildFund Alliance, Children Believe is part of a global network of child-focused development organizations working to create opportunities for children and youth, their families and communities. ChildFund helps nearly 23-million children and their families in 70 countries overcome poverty and underlying conditions that prevent children from achieving their full potential. We work to end violence against children; provide expertise in emergencies and disasters to ease the harmful impact on children and their communities; and engage children and youth to create lasting change and elevate their voices in decisions that affect their lives.