Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.
Skip to main content

Education and climate change: learning to act for people and planet

How can education lead to climate change action?

Despite strong evidence on the impact of education on other development outcomes and the role it plays in developing professional capacity for sustainable development transitions, education is often absent from other sectors’ strategic, policy, planning and financing considerations. The Global Education Monitoring Report is introducing a new series to advance dialogue on the interrelationship of education with the other Sustainable Development Goals.

The first paper in the series focuses on climate change. It starts by reviewing the growing impact of climate change on education before turning to the role of education in climate action. Education has a somewhat underappreciated contribution to developing professional capacities for the transition to a green economy. Formal, non-formal and informal learning are also commonly believed to be playing a critical role in motivating actions on climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Yet a positive association between education attainment and unsustainable consumption levels, as well as inconclusiveness of much research on the direct impact of education on climate change adaptation and mitigation actions has in part contributed to education receiving low priority in global and national climate change agendas.

This paper argues that climate change education needs to adapt to fulfil its potential. The education paradigm cannot rely solely on knowledge transfer but needs to focus on social and emotional, and action-oriented learning.

Much of the research has focused on the impact of education attainment and cognitive learning. More research is therefore needed to assess other drivers through which education can influence behaviours and motivate climate change action. Such research is needed to formulate viable education reform packages that improve the curriculum, strengthen climate-readiness of schools and education systems, engage learners and prepare educators accordingly.