The COP24 and climate change education: bold action is needed

published 13 December 2018 updated 17 December 2018

At the 24th United Nations Conference on Climate Change, Education International called for greater boldness in integrating the issue of climate change into national education policies at all levels.

The main challenge of the 24thUnited Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP24), which has entered its second week, is to make the Paris Agreement a reality by adopting measures to ensure its implementation. According to Education International (EI), present in Katowice, Poland, climate change education (CCE) must now move beyond the stage of formal commitments.

Actions speak louder than words

Since the 2015 Conference in Paris, at which the importance of education was emphasised, the international community has had several opportunities to discuss the measures to be adopted in order to ensure that climate change education (CCE) is no longer an empty promise.

In this regard, a draft decision on ways in which to develop education and training was submitted to the government representatives this week for adoption by the COP24. It includes a proposal for the systematic integration of education, training and awareness-raising activities in national climate policies.

However, EI believes that governments need to be bolder in taking up the recommendations formulated during a recent consultation of education sector stakeholders. “The integration of climate change issues in national education policies at all levels clearly remains a priority”, recalled Richard Langlois, representing EI at the COP24.

Capacity development for stakeholders, including policymakers, teachers and students, must also be deployed to this end. Additionally, training programmes must be sufficiently available in a language that is easy to understand and accessible to all.

EI, a key interlocutor in the implementation of the educational component of the Paris Agreement

The role of trade union and other civil society organisations must also be strengthened. EI should be a key interlocutor for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in relation to the implementation of the educational component of the Paris Agreement. “Its vast knowledge of the needs in the field is a definite asset”, said Mr. Langlois. “Also, its ability to develop international cooperation activities with both its affiliates and in collaboration with other partners in the education sector provides it with an additional strategic advantage.”

Consequently, he explained, “once the programme for the implementation of the educational measures has been adopted by the governments, there will need to be strong coordination between the governments and education sector stakeholders to maximise the chances of success of the approach”.