» UNESCO advocates central role for education in international responses to climate change
10.11.2016 - UNESCOPRESS

UNESCO advocates central role for education in international responses to climate change

The United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP22, taking place in Marrakech, Morocco (7-18 November) will dedicate the day of 14 November to the critical role of education in the global response to climate change, recognized in Article 12 of last year’s Paris Climate Change Agreement (COP21), as well as in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals 4 and 13.

UNESCO will showcase education for climate change awareness and resilience through side-events and two new publications.

The top feature of the day will be a high-level panel debate entitled “Education—A key driver to scale-up climate action” (1.15pm to 2.45pm, Pacific Room, Blue Zone), in which UNESCO’s Director-General Irina Bokova, HRH Princess Lalla Hasnaa of Morocco, President of the Mohammed VI Foundation for Environmental Protection, Rachid Benmokhtar Benabdallah, Minister of National Education and Vocational Training of Morocco, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Patricia Espinosa and a number of education ministers, will examine ways for education to enhance the implementation of the climate agenda and Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs, which describe greenhouse gas emissions reductions agreed under the UNFCCC).

At this occasion, UNESCO will launch Action for Climate Empowerment, new guidelines for policy makers developed in partnership with UNFCCC on ways to mobilize education, training and public awareness to combat climate change,.

“Responding to climate change must start with each of us, with the ways we think and act, our attitudes and behaviour,” said Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO. “This begins on the benches of schools and calls for new approaches to learning, driven by political will and resources to reorient education systems towards sustainability.”

The panel discussion will be preceded by a press conference from 12.30pm to 1pm (Rabat Room, Blue Zone) to launch the UNESCO Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report’s new publication, PLANET: Education for environmental sustainability and green growth.  The publication shows how education can help shift people’s behaviour to a more sustainable way of living. Curricula could better support this change as in half the countries of the world fail to contain clear mention of climate change or environmental sustainability.

“We can all learn from the environmental lessons embedded within indigenous cultures,” said Aaron Benavot, Director of the GEM Report. “School curricula need to be rethought and redesigned to nurture critical and empowered citizens. This means reconsidering the way we teach, renewed focus on training teachers to ensure they understand climate change and its implications before they stand in front of a classroom.”

PLANET shows that lifelong learning in the workplace and in communities has a crucial role to play in changing attitudes and finding new solutions to environmental problems as many of today’s adults were educated before climate change became an issue.

Other UNESCO-supported events on 14 November include a roundtable on the role of educators (5pm to 6.30pm, Room 7, Green Zone) and an event on the specific needs of vulnerable groups in climate change education (6.30pm to 8pm, Pacific Room, Blue Zone).

UNESCO will also organize a series of thematic discussions in a dedicated exhibition space (UNESCO Pavilion), on, for example, water education, green skills and initiatives from UNESCO’s Associated Schools Project Network (ASPnet). It will provide information and publications in the One UN exhibition booth for Sustainable Development Goal 4 (UN Exhibition Hall, Island 13C, Blue Zone).


Press Contact: Kate Redman k.redman(at)unesco.org, mobile: +33671786234

Recap of UNESCO events on 14 November:

  • Press Conference: 12.30pm-1pm, Rabat Room, Blue Zone. 
  • High Level Panel Event “Education - A key driver to scale-up climate action”: 1.15pm to 2.45pm, Blue Zone, Pacific Room
  • Roundtable “Sustainability starts with Educators”, 5pm to 6.30pm, Green Zone, Room 7
  • Panel discussion “Leaving no-one behind in climate change education”, 6:30pm-8pm, Blue Zone, Pacific Room
  • Short discussions led by UNESCO and partners, 11.00am to 5pm, Green Zone, UNESCO Pavilion
  • ONE UN exhibition booth on Sustainable Development Goal 4 on education, Blue Zone, UN Exhibition Hall, Island 13C

Notes to editor:
The 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is the first COP since the signing of the Paris Agreement which entered into force on 4 November=, and which, for the first time, includes an article on Climate Change Education and Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). COP22 provides the opportunity to ensure that the agreement is put into practice.

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