Climate Education

Reflections on the UNESCO Transforming Education Pre-Summit

On June 28, 2022, UNESCO hosted the Transforming Education Pre-Summit in Paris, France. At this event, more than 100 ministers of Education met with a global set of NGOs, academics, and private sector actors to discuss an education agenda and prepare for the September 19, 2022 Transforming Education Summit held in New York. The Pre-Summit provided opportunities for countries to share their educational commitments, to spotlight initiatives from coalitions and partnerships, and to create momentum around the global movement for education. With an eye toward getting climate literacy on the global education agenda, EARTHDAY.ORG sent a delegation to Paris. The delegation included Dr. Matthew Aruch, Director of Global Education, Neela Majumdar, Senior Manager of Project Development in India, and President Kathleen Rogers.  

EARTHDAY.ORG’s President Kathleen Rogers, Sr. Manager Neela Majumdar, Global Education Director Matthew Aruch

Below, Dr. Aruch and President Rogers provide reflections and perspectives on the Pre-Summit, hopes for the upcoming September summit, and ways that readers can get involved with UNESCO’s Transforming Education initiative. 

For Aruch, the Pre-Summit was an opportunity to engage in the global education sector broadly and to participate with an organizational agenda. In preparation for the pre-summit, Aruch coordinated with colleagues from the Learning Planet Institute, the Global Partnership for Education, the Education Commission, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, Fridays for the Future Climate Education, and others to elevate the issue of climate change in the education sector to organizers of the pre-summit. While climate action and education for sustainable development were mentioned in major keynotes and discussions, Aruch noted that competing education agendas complicated discussions around concrete actions and ways forward. 

Aside from keynote talks and major discussions, the Pre-Summit hosted several Action Track Sessions and Side Meetings. While Action Track II focused directly on learning for sustainable development, Aruch was pleased to see that Action Track V spoke to the need for climate-related finance within the education space. As the Transforming Education Summit approaches on September 19th, Aruch hopes that Summit organizers will create spaces for ministers of education, the environment, and finance to discuss solutions for addressing climate change and lay out an actionable agenda for transformative practices in the education space.

Kathleen Rogers, Earthday’s President, is a longtime advocate for mandatory, tested and integrated climate education across all schools and grade levels. She has spent years speaking with educators and advocates about ways to infuse climate change content in schools and across disciplines.  For her, getting countries to understand and address the disparities in financing climate education and curricula is one of the drivers for attending the Pre-Summit. Recognizing that curricula design is costly, Rogers hopes that countries can adopt policies through the Paris Agreement and work with Education Secretaries to get national institutions in affluent countries to finance climate curricula and education in developing countries.

While Rogers noted gaps in discussions around climate education and gender equity globally, she was excited to see draft policy language from the Pre-Summit contained climate change content and that 35million union members with Education International were able to sign the climate education petition. As the Transforming Education Summit approaches in September, Rogers, Aruch and coalition colleagues will continue to advocate this language remains and becomes formalized in policy documents

Both Aruch and Rogers encourage readers interested in issues of global education research, climate education, and education policy to engage with the Transforming Education Summit through online discussion portals, consultations, and forums. As EARTHDAY.ORG prepares for events beyond the Summit such as COP27 and Global Earthday 2023, Aruch hopes “that the Summit can be a launching point or framework for some of the global education work that EDO can lead, share, or support to mobilize climate action” 

EARTHDAY.ORG Education recognizes the importance of climate literacy as a mechanism for developing more environmentally, politically, and socially conscious individuals. The projects in our climate literacy campaign focus on integration of climate action into educational research, policy and practice.