Only half of the national curricula in the world have a reference to climate change, UNESCO warns

Paris  — Education systems do not currently address the gravity of the climate crisis, warns the UNESCO, the UN’s leading education agency, ahead of the first joint meeting of environment and education ministers at COP26 in Glasgow on 5 November.

New UNESCO data from 100 countries shows that only 53% of the world’s national education curricula make any reference to climate change and when the subject is mentioned, it is almost always given very low priority.

Furthermore, fewer than 40% of teachers surveyed by UNESCO and Education International were confident in teaching about the severity of climate change and only about one-third felt able to explain the effects of climate change on their region or locality.

“The climate crisis is no longer the threat of a distant future, but a global reality. There is no solution without education. Every learner needs to understand climate change, and be empowered to be part of the solution, and every teacher given the knowledge to teach about it. States must mobilize for this”, calls Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director-General.

When asked about the challenges of teaching climate change, 30% of the 58,000 teachers surveyed reported that they were not familiar with suitable pedagogies. Over a quarter of those surveyed felt some approaches to teaching climate education were not suited to online teaching. This is of particular concern given that 737 million students in 66 countries are still affected by full or partial school closures.


In view of these findings, UNESCO decided to organize with the United Kingdom and Italy, co-Presidents of COP26, the event ‘Together for Tomorrow: Education and Climate Action’, the first joint meeting of environment and education ministers, at COP26 in Glasgow on 5 November.

“It is crucial that we equip our young people with the right knowledge, understanding, and skills for a changing world. We will be launching our Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy at COP26 and through this exciting event, the first large gathering of its kind between Education and Environment Ministers, I want to hear what other countries are doing to ensure we’re all putting the fight against climate change at the heart of our work,” explains Rt Hon Nadhim Zahawi, UK Secretary of State for Education.

“Climate and sustainability education must be mainstreamed into the curriculum to go beyond the mere concept of sustainability and re-generate the school and the entire planet” affirms Patrizio Bianchi, Italian Minister of Education.


UNESCO will underscore the need for collaboration between the education and environment sectors to successfully integrate climate change in education systems worldwide in every level of schooling.

The event builds on the Youth4Climate education session jointly organized by UNESCO and the Italian Education Ministry, where young climate activists discussed their calls for quality climate education with six education ministers.

‘Together for Tomorrow” will take place on 5 November, 4 pm to 5.30 pm, in the Blue Zone, and will be open to those who have tickets to the area.