Yesterday was the first education day held at a COP, highlighting that climate change education is beginning to be recognized as an important part of the climate change solution. Climate change education is part of the the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), found in Article 6, which stipulates the promotion of education, training and public awareness on climate change. I attended a number of sessions focused on climate change education, but found an afternoon panel with representatives from Uganda, the Dominican Republic, Morocco, Peru, England and the youth director of Earth Guardians in Colorado, to be the most interesting and also humbling for a number of reasons.
First of all, the majority of presenters were government representatives, oftentimes having a dual appointment in the ministry of environment and education, and are actively implementing climate change education throughout their country. This is an almost unheard of idea in the United States. The closest we have at this point is the new Next Generation Science Standards, which contain climate change; however, they are neither federally mandated, nor adopted by all states. I would add, the one panel presenter from the U.S. was a 16-year-old who was involved in his work because he had no outlet at school to do so. Don’t get me wrong. There is amazing climate change education work being done throughout the country, but it is not consistent or connected.
Secondly, on a more positive note, although we do not have a federal climate change education program implemented and supported throughout our country, the guiding principles emphasized were directly in line with our approach. They included:
- Empower youth
- Be interdisciplinary
- Break down the boundaries between formal and informal education
- Be solutions and action focused
- Emphasize a connection with others
- Empower people to solve problems in their own context
On another positive note, our Education Ambassador orientation kicks off today at 9AM sharp Paris time! We have a full day planned, including a policy briefing from former state Senator Ellen Anderson and Representative Melissa Hortman. We will do some fun icebreakers, get an emergency French lesson from Education Ambassador Nicole Anderson, and think about our schedules for the week. In the afternoon we are headed off to an event with Robert Redford. More on that here.
Au revoir et bonne nuit!