The role of education in propelling climate action

Climate change presents a borderless and intergenerational phenomenon, with diverse and far-reaching impacts across the global community. Human activities are irreversibly changing the environment in which society exists, requiring collective, immediate and profound action on climate change. 

eDiscussion through the Education Hub Community of Practice

Climate Change

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As Heads of State from around the world gathered at the 21st Conference of Parties to discuss the international community’s response to climate change (and out of which the Paris Agreement was born), the Education Hub launched a discussion on education’s role in propelling climate action, to critically reflect the role of education in addressing the issue of climate change.

Climate change was discussed as an urgent issue requiring global action and necessitating a shift in thinking and decision-making to account for destructive human-environmental interactions. Participants acknowledged education as a necessary tool to address climate change. Education was recognised for its ability to empower, inform and motivate those engaged, the wider community and government to take action on climate change. Various examples were presented as means of integrating climate change into education, including those curriculum-based, community-based and technology-based approaches.

Participants argued that as part of the transformation for sustainable development, economic focus must shift and refocus on green growth. Education has a necessary role to play in said shift, helping to develop a workforce with the knowledge, skills and drive to develop a sustainable, green economy.

Policy was recognised as a key vehicle for driving the uptake of climate change into education.

Recommendations included:

  • Governments to lead on addressing climate change and the use a multisectoral approach to policy development;
  • Addressing climate change and effective integration into education requires an understanding of the root causes and the social, economic and environmental relationships at play;
    Education should be engaged as a mechanism to develop a workforce with the skills and knowledge to power green growth;
  • Climate change be addressed through the use of formal, non-formal and informal education targeting a wide cross-section of stakeholders, including as students, communities, industries and governments;
  • Climate change education should not be restricted by subject, but should be integrated across the curriculum, and requires emphasis on problem-solving and evidence-based thinking; and,
  • Pursuit of a collaborative approach to teacher training to foster acceptance of new methodologies and integration of climate education across the system.

Issues discussed in detail:

  • Urgency and need for change
  • Education as a tool for change
  • Education and economic change
  • Need for transformation of the education system
  • Integration into formal education
  • Role of teachers and training
  • Integration into school infrastructure
  • Non-formal and informal education
  • Technological tools for education
  • Education and policy

[draft] Policy Brief on the role of education in addressing climate change

CC draft brief image

Click here to view the draft brief

This policy brief has been developed by the Commonwealth Health and Education Unit (HEU) to provide an overview of the role of education in addressing climate change, and inform policymakers of the specific contributions education can make in addressing the issue across the Commonwealth.

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