Learning in South Sudan / UN Photo Gregorio Cunha

UNFCCC's approaches on Climate Education

January 24th marks International Day of Education, an opportunity to look at why climate change education is important and to highlight how UN Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its partners are bringing together government experts, along with practitioners and learners, to boost knowledge about climate change.

Climate change education is one central foundation to achieve the goals of the Paris Climate Change Agreement. It can provide everyone – children, youth and adults – with the necessary knowledge and skills to deal with climate change both in terms of building resilience to ever more severe and unpredictable weather and harnessing the many opportunities of clean, sustainable and just economies.

Networking is crucial to connect the community of professionals, practitioners and learners working on climate change education – through training sessions and exchanges of practical information.

Climate Education sorely lacking

Education about climate change, above all for young people, is presently sorely lacking on a global scale. According to a recent report by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), young people are dissatisfied with the quality of climate change education they presently receive. 27% of respondents say they cannot at all explain what climate change is and 41% say they are only able to explain the broad principles of climate change.

The report was presented by UNESCO at last year’s Climate Change Conference COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, and was based on a global survey involving around 17,500 young people from 166 countries on youth and climate education.

77% of the young people polled strongly agree that climate change should be taught by people from various backgrounds, to address the complexity of the issue. Many want to go beyond school walls to learn through project-based activities, including working with local organizations and experts.

Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) as a key toolbox for climate education

The importance of climate change education has long been firmly anchored in the UN climate change process, in a field of work called Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE). ACE is a toolbox which includes climate change education, public awareness, training, public participation, public access to information and international cooperation on these matters.

Recognizing the growing importance of ACE, governments adopted the Glasgow work programme on ACE at COP26 two years ago. Through this 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. Furthermore, university graduates are to be enabled to understand how their chosen profession can contribute to the cause of and solutions to the climate crisis.

At COP27, a special ministerial round table on climate change education was held, and governments adopted a four-year action plan to flesh out specific activities that were agreed in principal in Glasgow. The plan foresees greater regional and international cooperation on climate change education through dialogues, workshops and consultations over the next years, along with increased support for ACE and better reporting.

Learn more about UNFCCC’s education approaches by reading the whole article here.

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