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COP26 Teaching for Climate Action: Schools Shaping the Future

Written by Dorpaima Lumban Gaol

Teaching about climate change is not just about knowledge, it’s not just about transferring knowledge, but it’s about competence. To get to that level of competence you need to also know how to act on the knowledge that you received. - Haldis Holst, Deputy General Secretary, Education International at COP26

GLASGOW - World leaders from 130 countries are meeting at the 26th session of the high-level conference on climate change, the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland from November 1st-12th 2021. The intention of the conference is to promote high-level discourse and maintain the target set in the Paris Climate Agreement, which is to halt global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

“COP26 is to be on the agenda to ‘save humanity’ and protect the earth”, said the Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, at the COP26 opening ceremony on Monday (11/1).

This conference also involves participants from various backgrounds such as scientists, business leaders, environmental activists, and academics. Considering the commitment to zero-emissions is a long-term goal, the role of academics and schools in implementing environmental education in the classroom is one of the highlights this year at COP26.

Incorporating climate and environmental education in schools is essential to encourage the achievement of real climate action that adresses global environmental change. This topic was discussed at a side event with the theme COP26 Teaching for Climate Action: Schools Shaping the Future on November 5th, 2021. Haldis Holst, Deputy General Secretary, of Education International was one of the speakers in this session, and stated that teachers have a very important role in how they can build a holistic learning environment. It is important to trust the professionalism of teachers and their knowledge to transform the curriculum into real-life learning which empowers students.

Photo Credit: Dorpaima Lumban Gaol / Global Schools Program

Aligning with Haldis's statement, Andreas Schleicher, Director for Education and Skills at the OECD and member of Mission 4.7 High Level Advisory Group, added that education would continue to grow, and hoped that school graduates would build technology-based green jobs that could reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Furthermore, Stefania Giannini, Assistant Director-General for Education, UNESCO, and co-chair of Mission 4.7, said that UNESCO pays attention to the holistic learning processes in schools, not only limiting themselves to cognitive knowledge and topics regarding environmental change, but also working with other spheres of learning.

Photo Credit: Dorpaima Lumban Gaol / Global Schools Program

This event was moderated by Rodolfo Lacy, Director of the Environment Directorate at the OECD, and thousands of educators/teachers from over the world followed the event offline and online, including our representatives from the Global Schools Program, a global initiative of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network that aligns with the mission of achieving holistic environmental education in schools. Throughout the event, interactive polls were distributed, and 80% of participants identified that they had taught for climate action.

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