New country profiles show that climate change communication and education remain primarily aspirational
7 November 2022
By: Anna Cristina d‘Addio, Daniel April, Marcia McKenzie, Nicola Chopin and Stefanie Mallow
By Anna Cristina d‘Addio, Daniel April (GEM Report), Marcia McKenzie, Nicola Chopin and Stefanie Mallow (MECCE Project)
A new set of 30 country profiles on climate change communication and education (CCE) was launched today to mark the beginning of the COP27 taking place in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. bringing the total count to 50*, after 20 profiles were published last year. A third round of profiles will be prepared in 2023.
The country profiles respond to the need for better data on CCE progress and result from an ongoing partnership between the GEM Report and the Monitoring and Evaluating Climate Communication and Education (MECCE) Project , hosted by the Sustainability and Education Policy Network (SEPN). They are available on the MECCE Project website ( www.mecce.ca ) and on the Profiles Enhancing Education Reviews website (PEER, www.education-profiles.org ) of the GEM Report, which also hosts country profiles on other themes at the core of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4.
The CCE country profiles are prepared through the review and synthesis of international commitments, national laws, policies, action plans and programmes. They provide a comparative perspective of countries’ progress in relation to Article 6 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Article 12 of the Paris Agreement , through ‘Action for Climate Empowerment’ (ACE); and on SDG Target 4.7 on education for sustainable development. They cover all world regions and income levels. More than 500 experts and national focal points for Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) were invited to review, update, and validate the information.
The profiles cover climate change contexts (relevant government agencies, laws, policies, and plans, terminology and budget); climate change education (policy, curriculum, teacher education and assessment) in primary and secondary education; higher education; teacher education; technical and vocational education and training (TVET) and adult education; climate change communication (public awareness, public access to education, public participation); and CCE monitoring.
A brochure draws on the 50 profiles to identify 10 key trends, which suggest that, while infrastructure for quality CCE exists in most countries, mainstreaming of quality CCE across sectors remains primarily aspirational.
What do the profiles suggest about climate change communication and education?
The two teams developed 31 measures to assess progress in CCE. The figure below reports on 18 of those.
Out of 50 countries….
Several positive trends emerge in:
Climate change education
Countries have made great strides in mainstreaming climate change in curricula at all education levels. The United States, one of the first countries to adopt a Climate Change Education Act (2021), aims to establish a federal CCE programme to enhance CCE literacy across the country. In Zambia, the National Climate Change Learning Strategy (2021) commits to integrating climate change in learning and teaching materials from early childhood care and education to secondary school.
Only a few countries integrate socio-emotional learning on climate change into primary and secondary education. China does so through the Guidelines for the Implementation of Environment Education in Primary and Secondary Schools (2003). Yet, several countries promote experiential learning. For instance, Ghana’s National Pre-Tertiary Education Curriculum Framework (2018) encourages learners to take climate actions that foster sustainable growth and development.
Countries are increasingly embracing the transition to green and sustainable schools, for instance through the Eco-Schools programme , which is now implemented in more than 43,000 schools around the world.
Teacher training on climate change is gaining momentum, such as in Cambodia, where the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports established modules to help teachers integrate climate change in formal and non-formal curricula.
Climate change training at the tertiary level and capacity building, particularly in TVET, are also becoming increasingly important. This is the case in Maldives, where the Communication Strategy and Action Plan (2019-2023) aims to train various target audiences, including SDG lead agencies, youth, farmers, fishermen, women’s groups, residents and government authorities.
Climate change communication
Countries are using innovative approaches to improve public awareness, access to information and participation. They also increasingly focus CCE policies, plans, strategies and activities on Indigenous participation and knowledge and gender. Australia, for example, emphasises Indigenous knowledge in its National Climate Resilience and Adaptation Strategy (2021), while Canada relies on the expertise of the Expert Panel on Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience established in 2017 to combine scientific information and Indigenous knowledge in climate solutions and communications. The Mexican government also encourages the inclusion of gender issues in climate change debates as well as the active participation of Indigenous peoples. The Special Climate Change Program me (2020–2024) aims to improve gender equality and reduce social gaps through empowerment measures. Lithuania established a Mobile Climate Museum to motivate the youth/public to engage in climate politics and climate-friendly lifestyles.
Yet despite progress, more remains to be done:
Budget allocations for CCE are scarce. Only a few countries, such as Cambodia, Ethiopia, Portugal and Zambia have publicly available CCE budgets. In Zambia, for instance, USD 200,000 has been allocated by the government to increase climate change awareness in general education from 2021 to 2024 while USD 1.5 million has been earmarked to integrate climate change learning into national priority sectoral policies and systems.
While countries generally have ambitious plans for monitoring, evaluation and reporting on CCE, only a few countries collect data to track CCE progress.
Countries are increasingly including a focus on climate change communication and education in their national policies, plans, and initiatives. Still, few are doing enough to educate their populations about future challenges and the need to act now. More attention needs to be paid to include CCE in national climate change laws, policies, and plans and to develop comprehensive monitoring and evaluation systems to ensure that climate change communication and education reaches all.
In the coming weeks, the Technical Cooperation Group on SDG 4 Indicators will be considering options for a new benchmark indicator to reflect the global initiative on greening education that emerged at the Transforming Education Summit. Once approved, countries would be invited to set national targets for 2025 and 2030 to put this issue at the heart of Agenda 2030. The MECCE Project has launched a first slate of global monitoring tools to support additional country benchmarking and target setting on CCE. The next set of country profiles, to be published ahead of COP 28 in 2023, will expand the knowledge base to help increase the quality of CCE globally.