During the 25th Conferences of the Parties (COP25) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), held in Madrid, Spain on 2-13 December 2019, UN CC:Learn co-led the organization of the One UN Side Event on Climate Change Education titled Learning for Climate Action, which took place on Thursday, 12 December 2019. This event was designed to highlight the tangible contributions that learning, skills development and investment in climate-resilient education systems are making towards concrete and ambitious climate action as well as discuss opportunities to scale-up and enhance ambition.
The discussion was open by Ms. Fiona Cowan, Headteacher, Bolsover Infants and Nursery, UK, who shared her experience in integrating climate change into the curriculum of her school in her new capacity as UN CC:Learn accredited climate change teacher. Her remarks were followed by a first panel focused on the question ‘How does climate change affect education and how are education-focused interventions leading to robust climate action?’ which offered an opportunity to capture good practices and views from the following speakers:
- Mr. Daniel Schaffer, CEO, Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), who highlighted the comprehensive approach promoted by FEE’s eco-schools, the largest global sustainable schools programme, to engage children and youth in action-based learning.
- Ms. Yulia Dobrolyubova, Regional Technical Advisor, UNDP / Head of Climate Policy & Finance, Asia at South Pole, who introduced the innovative “Climate Box” Awareness & Educational Program, supporting Ministries of Education in Central Asia, and beyond, in incorporating climate change into primary and secondary school teaching.
- Ambassador Rita Mishaan, Co-Chair, Paris Committee for Capacity Building (PCCB), who announced the development of a new free online training on climate change and human rights, open to all interested stakeholders.
- Ms. Sydney Welter, Director, International Partnerships for Care About Climate, who stressed youth efforts to address climate change as well as launched a commitment from 9,000 universities worldwide pledging to make their campuses carbon neutral by 2030 / 2050
The second panel was dedicated to the question “How can climate change education be scaled-up to support the implementation of the Paris Agreement and stay below 1.5C?” and covered input from:
- Ms. Julia Ojanen, Strategy Director, Plan International, Finland, who presented an analysis of the 184 Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) submitted as part of the Paris Agreement with regard the representation of children and youth, particularly girls, highlighting the need to enhance the focus on future generations.
- Dr. Zitouni Oulddada, Deputy Director, Climate and Environment Division, FAO, who stressed the importance of scaling-up formal and informal learning at all ages to prepare our societies to effectively address the challenges posed by climate change.
- Mr. Kherann Yao, UNICEF Youth Ambassador, who noted the concrete efforts and the engagement motivating young people to act to build a more sustainable future.
The event, moderated by Ms. Alexander Leicht, Chief, Section of Education for Sustainable Development, Division for Peace and Sustainable Development, Education Sector, UNESCO, inspired several different stakeholders (to continue) to support effective climate action through the provision of appropriate knowledge and skills.
Furthermore, UNITAR/UN CC:Learn, through the UN Alliance on Climate Change Education, Training and Public Awareness, supported the High-level Event on Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE), held on Tuesday 10 December 2019. During this event, ministers and decision-makers in the area of environment and education from several countries, from Italy to China, showcased a multiplicity of interventions their countries and organizations are implementing in these areas, as well as launched new commitments. The Minister of Water and Environment of Uganda was in attendance and presented numerous activities being advanced across the country, including the development and implementation of a National Climate Change Learning Strategy, as well as the dissemination of supplementary readers for primary school children and of a comprehensive training manual on climate change for desk officers within different Ministries, which are supported through UN CC:Learn.
At COP25, UN CC:Learn also contributed to the One UN Exhibit on Quality Education and organized a new edition of the Climate Classroom, which provided a quick and innovative learning experience to busy delegates. For further information on UN CC:Learn participation at COP25, please click here.