Not just hot air: Putting climate change education into practice

Not just hot air: Putting climate change education into practice

UNESCO report reviewing the work and lessons of the Education for Sustainable Development programme, 2012/13.

In the preface to this report, which is focused on putting climate change education into practice, the authors make clear the importance of education in both helping populations to understand and address the impacts of climate change, and in encouraging the behaviours and attitudes needed to mitigate the problem. Education can help policymakers understand the urgency at hand, help people learn how climate change will affect them, and help increase the resilience of already vulnerable communities.

UNESCO’s work on Climate Change Education (CCE) aims to make education a more central part of the international response to climate change. As part of these efforts, UNESCO's programme on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) offers support to countries to enable policymakers and educators to act on climate change. This publication presents a summary of the programme’s work in 2012/13, and is intended to serve as a reference for similar work in the future.

The publication consists of national case studies on five country pilots (Domincan Republic, Guyana, Mauritius, South Africa, and Tuvalu), including analysis and assessment of CCE and ESD capacity-building work undertaken, as well as lessons learned; 16 short country profiles on policy development regarding ESD and CCE; and finally, recommendations.

Drawing from the research presented in the report, the authors make five recommendations for policy makers on how CCE and ESD can be integrated at the national level:

  • Given the multidisciplinary nature of ESD, it should be integrated by governments into all levels and types of education, and across the curriculum, alongside CCE.
  • This integration requires high-level support from the government, with cross-sectoral coordination and harmonisation, and a clearly defined structure.
  • Education ministries and educational planners should review, develop, and strengthen curricula, developing new pedagogical approaches that emphasise critical thinking and problem solving. These curricula should be flexible enough to adapt to local contexts.
  • Teachers and education planners need increased capacity in terms of climate knowledge and context-relevant materials.
  • Regarding public awareness, communication, and stakeholder involvement, governments should support non-formal education opportunities in partnership with communities, civil society, and the media.
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