Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash
Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

G20 Education Ministers’ Meeting: A missed opportunity to prioritise climate education

published 23 June 2021 updated 28 June 2021

Despite global calls from teachers, students and civil society, G20 Education and Labour Ministers meeting under the Italian Presidency, failed to recognise the imperative need for universal climate education.

Lack of action at a critical moment

David Edwards, Education International General Secretary, expressed disappointment in the fact that both G20 Education Ministers’ Declaration and the G20 Joint Education and Labour and Employment Minister’s Declaration did not prioritise climate education:

“The failure of G20 ministers to reach an agreement on the importance of climate education shows that making progress is not going to be easy. Education International, the global voice of educators, calls on every government to work with educators and their unions to ensure climate change education is as essential as teaching reading and writing. With the climate crisis accelerating, implementation of quality education for climate action cannot wait.”

This lack of action comes at the same time as a new devastating U.N. report, obtained by Agence France-Presse, details how species extinction, more widespread disease, excessive heat, ecosystem collapse, and other devastating climate impacts are accelerating and will have a profound impact before any child born today turns 30. The report is a reality check against political indecisiveness and empty promises, warning that “the worst is yet to come, affecting our children's and grandchildren's lives much more than our own”. Those least responsible for global warming will suffer its consequences disproportionately. If the worst is to be avoided, "we need transformational change operating on processes and behaviours at all levels: individual, communities, business, institutions and governments”. These findings confirm educators’ belief that climate action requires climate education.

Global mobilisation more vital than ever

As Pierre Habbard, the General Secretary of the Trade Union Advisory Committee, told Education and Employment Ministers during their meeting,

“The teachers of the world within and beyond G20 countries are ready and willing to Teach for the Planet with quality climate change education but they need the financial, political and curricular support and training to make it a reality. They join with the call from the Youth20 that climate and education are the key priorities for recovery and beyond.”

Educators everywhere are determined to continue working with students and environment activists to advocate for universal climate education in the leadup to the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November.

“The lack of action from G20 ministers demonstrates that our Teach for the Planet campaign is absolutely crucial. Without teachers, students and civil society demanding change, we are unlikely to achieve quality climate change education for all or a sustainable future of any kind.”

David Edwards, Education International General Secretary

Show your support by signing and sharing the Education International Manifesto on Quality Climate Change Education for All!