Climate Education

Sustainable tomorrow: It has to start at school

Education International, the international union representing over 32 million education professionals, is hosting “Teach for the Planet: Global Education Summit” on Wednesday, April 21 from 7:00 to 10:00 am ET as a parallel summit leading up to Earth Day on the 22nd. The event will be streamed on EARTHDAY.ORG or you can also register with Education International to receive future updates and information.

This summit will focus on education’s role in addressing the climate crisis and the urgent need to universally embed climate literacy into every school in the world. It will feature speakers from the realms of education, environment and advocacy including EARTHDAY.ORG president, Kathleen Rogers.

We asked Rebeca Logan, director of campaigns and communication for Education International, what we can expect from this critical event that will span continents, time zones and languages. Rebeca’s responses are recorded below.

EARTHDAY.ORG: What were your motivations for planning the Teach For The Planet: Global Education Summit?

Education International: If humanity is to avoid the worst consequences of global warming and fast forward the green, clean and sustainable economies of tomorrow today, it has to start at school. Teachers, support personnel and students need to be part of any real effort to address climate issues. The summit will launch our campaign for quality climate change education for all. The event marks the beginning of our mobilization toward the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 26) in November 2021, when we will call on world leaders to make ambitious commitments to reduce carbon emissions, prioritize social justice and a just transition in their climate change responses and provide climate change education for all.

EDO: What do you hope summit attendees will take away from the event? 

EI: Attendees will learn about how quality [lessons about] climate change are taught in diverse settings across the world, discover what teachers are doing to overcome climate denialism and defend their professional autonomy to teach the truth and learn from teacher representatives about their strategies to promote climate change education.  

As a whole, the event will be a call to action for attendees to join our campaign and to promote climate change education in their national and local contexts.

EDO: What are your goals for the Summit?

EI: The Summit aims to inspire. Teachers (and students, and everyone!) are exhausted from the impact of COVID-19 but are eager for system change to support a more sustainable future and well aware of the urgency of acting to tackle climate change. 

The Summit will mobilize teachers across the education union movement globally behind a shared purpose, providing a sense of hope that together, and with the support of partners, we can achieve universal climate education.  

The event will feature prominent activists and union leaders from every continent focused on the crucial role that educators and their unions play in combating climate change.  

EDO: Why are teachers critical in combating the climate crisis? 

EI: Teachers play a fundamental and irreplaceable role in the fight against climate change. Teachers are change agents in their communities and collectively are a powerful catalyst for the transformation of society.   

A recent global survey found that education was the one biggest factor determining whether or not individuals viewed climate change as a global emergency. Through quality teaching, we can turn the tide so that the whole world wakes up to the terrifying crisis we are facing as a result of human-induced global heating.   

Today is a special day, as teachers and students are joining forces to ensure that universal climate education for all becomes a reality. Students and teachers, together, are a force to be reckoned with.