The future is shaped by climate change education
On this International Day of Education, join David Wilgenbus, a renowned expert in science education and sustainable development, as we delve into the crucial challenges of Climate Change Education (CCE). With extensive experience leading educational programs reaching over 100,000 classrooms in France and abroad, David now serves as the Executive Director at the Office for Climate Education (OCE).
How do we mobilize future generations to tackle climate challenges? How can we concretize this mission by emphasizing the role of teachers within global education systems?
Climate change, a reality to embrace
The stakes are high. Climate change stands as one of the most significant challenges of our time, demanding swift and ambitious collective action. Despite the strong demand expressed by a highly mobilized youth and the teaching community, Climate Change Education (CCE) remains largely in its infancy in France.
Young individuals, in search of information, often get lost in the tumult of media and social networks, struggling to distinguish scientific facts from advocacy, climate skepticism, or catastrophic discourses. This alarming situation results in a poor understanding of the issue and eco-anxiety affecting 75% of adolescents in France.
In this concerning context, the crucial challenge is to help these young minds navigate toward a profound understanding of the problem while emphasizing the existence of solutions. UNESCO underscores that education is the most transformative lever for climate action, a principle reaffirmed in Article 12 of the Paris Agreement. CCE must equip the youth with knowledge, skills, and attitudes to envision themselves as active contributors to a transforming world, not merely as victims.
Supporting teachers in a changing climate
The latest UNESCO report reveals that 95% of teachers consider teaching climate change essential; however, less than 30% feel capable of doing so. Why? They face a significant lack of training opportunities and suitable pedagogical tools to support them.
Certainly, the climate topic is vast and complex, and it is new for most teachers who have never received training on this theme during their educational journey. Grasping climate change requires mastering key scientific concepts, as well as drawing upon other knowledge and skills from the humanities (history, geography, literature, economics, arts, etc.). This interdisciplinary approach is not evident in the French education system. Additionally, it is essential to enable students to manage their emotions, imagine and implement solutions. This implies that teachers, along with their non-teaching colleagues (school leaders, administrative staff), need to be familiar with project-based pedagogy, equipped to handle psycho-emotional aspects, particularly eco-anxiety, and open to external collaboration involving the entire community in projects.
Achieving this requires new pedagogical tools based on a solid scientific foundation, open to non-scientific disciplines, and relying on active pedagogies. It also requires continuous training and support for teachers to assist them on the ground in realizing their educational projects.
The Office for Climate Education, pioneer in climate change education
Since 2018, the Office for Climate Education (OCE) has trained tens of thousands of teachers and implemented projects that have enabled nearly 2 million students worldwide to transcend classroom boundaries and act on climate change.
The Office for Climate Education stands out as a unique actor in the CCE landscape, bridging the gap between the scientific and educational communities. Collaborating with education and environmental ministries, UNESCO, the IPCC, local authorities, NGOs, and even the business world, OCE plays a central role in implementing climate change education.
With a multidisciplinary team of professionals and experts, OCE, firmly established in France and internationally, constitutes a dynamic force ready to tackle educational challenges related to climate change.
The recent COPs have shown how essential education is in the climate change adaptation strategy of different states. It is vital not only for raising awareness but also for promoting sustainable and responsible behaviors, developing skills necessary for adaptation, reinforcing resilience, facilitating informed decision-making, stimulating innovation, and encouraging collective action and social inclusion. By investing in education, we equip current and future generations with the necessary tools to proactively and sustainably address the impacts of climate change.
Learning today for a better tomorrow.