New Momentum Toward Greening Education

June 21st, 2023 | Blogs

The last six months have seen promising action and announcements by some governments and development partners at the global level focusing on the linkages between the environmental crisis and education. There has been a flurry of frameworks, publications, events and even a funding opportunity. Several development agencies and organizations have highlighted their intention to “break down the silos” that exist in the education sector between those working on gender equality, climate and environmental action, disaster risk reduction, inclusion and access, and quality improvement.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office issued their position paper laying out their vision for emphasizing the relationship between girls’ education and climate and environmental change. USAID is preparing an Education and Climate Technical guidance document and recently announced the new Climate Education Partnership in Education (CAPE), which will fund applied research projects investigating the nexus of education, climate, and girls’ empowerment. In April 2023, the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) announced their Climate Smart Education Systems Framework

On top of these, we were excited to see the new UNESCO-led Greening Education Partnership really moving ahead in the last few months, with working group meetings in each of the 4 pillar areas –  greening schools, greening curriculum, greening  teacher  training  and  education  systems’  capacities,  and  greening  communities  – as well the start of a related webinar series by UNESCO and UNFCCC  on ‘greening schools on the road to COP28’. As an early member of the Greening Education Partnership, we were particularly heartened to see such wide participation in each of the working groups from grass roots organizations, educators and young people from all round the world.

This new global initiative calling for education to “be transformed to respond to the global climate and environmental crisis” appears to be gaining traction and was in the spotlight at the 2023 Education World Forum, the largest annual gathering of education ministers. So far, over 45 governments have made formal commitments to meet the ambitious targets of the Greening Education Partnership and World Education has already begun discussions with partner ministries of education about how we can assist. 

Indeed, these last few months have also seen World Education being increasingly active. Through the Basic Education Coalition, we provided substantial input to USAID on its draft Education and Climate Technical guidance document. Most recently, we joined a new coalition of education NGOs called GREEN (Global Response to Education and the Environment Network) to advocate, provide thought leadership, and inform policy, programming, and practice in the environment, climate and education nexus. A recent award from the Darwin Initiative has allowed us to begin planning for women-led, school-based agroforestry initiatives in Benin that builds off decades of our work in integrated pest management, community-led natural resource management, conservation education, livelihoods strengthening, girls’ education, and environmental action. At the same time, we are striving within our own organization to reduce our own carbon footprint. 

Let us hope that the second half of 2023 sees this widespread momentum flourish. We will continue to use our well-known core strengths to help local partners and ministries of education provide an education that prepares learners to respond to the environment and climate crisis. These include experiential, action-based and gender transformative pedagogies, positive youth development, life skills, technical skills training, socio-emotional learning (SEL) and whole school approaches. With two-thirds of the 134 countries at last year’s Transforming Education Summit committing to address climate change in education, and the increased rhetoric coming from the international community, there is every reason to hope for the achievement of the goals aptly stated in the new GPE Climate Smart Education Framework “Protect and advance quality, relevant and equitable education; protect the planet’s life systems; and, promote climate justice.”

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