Teachers to share experience in climate change education in joint initiative launched by UNESCO, Education International and OECD

Teachers are crucial actors in the fight against climate change, but often do not feel equipped to address the complexity of the topic.

To help address this and create a body of understanding on teachers’ good work addressing climate change, UNESCO, OECD and Education International launched a joint initiative on climate education on 1 July 2021.

The initiative, which asks teachers to submit videos sharing their experience in teaching students of all ages about the climate crisis, builds upon UNESCO’s work to call for the transformation of education so that learners everywhere can #LearnForOurPlanet through Education for Sustainable Development.

At the launch webinar, Vibeke Jensen, UNESCO Director of the Division for Peace and Sustainable Development, welcomed the initiative’s focus on teachers as agents of personal and societal transformation.

The webinar, which was moderated by Earth Day advocate and former UNEP Director of Communications Nick Nuttall, kicked off with launch speeches by Vibeke Jensen, Andreas Schleicher, OECD Director for Education and Skills, and Susan Hopgood, President of Education International. Speakers from education, government and not-for-profit sectors then took part in a moderated discussion about the importance of teacher preparation and climate education, as well as the necessary precursors for teachers to be able to speak confidently and sensitively about the climate crisis.

“Climate education, based on science and civics education, should be as fundamental as reading and writing,” said Susan Hopgood, President of Education International.

“What we are trying to do is to mobilize knowledge in a systematic way, so teachers can share and see what each other are doing, and to do that across borders” said Mr Andreas Schleicher, OECD Director for Education and Skills.

Launched in May, UNESCO’s Learn for our planet report found less than half the national curricula and education policy studied mentioned climate change, and over a third of teachers who responded to the survey as part of the report indicated no inclusion of environment-related content in teacher training programmes.

At the close of UNESCO’s recent World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development in May, the 2,800 participants of the Conference, including over 70 ministers and vice ministers, of the Conference adopted the Berlin Declaration on Education for Sustainable Development. The Declaration addresses transforming education so learners have the skills, knowledge and values to act for the survival of our planet.

UNESCO has called for all schools to include environmental issues in their teaching, including climate action. Teachers are a priority action area in this strategy and their voices and good practices should influence policy, in part through this important initiative. The experiences collected through the initiative will be shared at COP26 on Climate Change in Glasgow in November.

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