Side Event in Warsaw Discusses Education and Public Awareness

education-and-public-awarness16 November 2013: The UN Alliance on Climate Change Education, Training and Public Awareness moderated a side event on addressing climate change through education and training. The event consisted of a joint panel representing fourteen different organizations, who highlighted the importance of education and training and the key role young people are playing in advancing knowledge on mitigating and adapting to climate change.

Moderated by Adriana Valenzuela Jiménez, UN Alliance on Climate Change Education, Training and Public Awareness, the side event highlighted the role of education and training in mitigating and adapting to climate change, and emphasized that youth play a crucial role in the process.

Ahmed Alhendawi, UN Envoy on Youth, emphasized the need for an education system that aims to change people's lifestyles in relation to climate change, and added that informal education and training are often the best tools to accomplish this.

Nora Pieter and Juan Veras, Dominican Republic, noted that teacher training workshops in the Dominican Republic have inspired the government to expand the programme to include a further 3000 teachers over the next three years, and to provide schools and teachers with knowledge on safety and resilience.

Cecilia Wesslén, Youth and UN Global Alliance, presented on developing education systems that promote low-emission and sustainable lifestyles. She emphasized the need to empower, support, educate, and enable youth to become active agents of changing lifestyles.

Stephanie Hodge, UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), presented on mainstreaming the issues of climate change and disaster risk reduction (DRR) in education. Hodge emphasized that climate change's increasing impacts on children put pressure on the UN to focus on education system changes.

Fanina Kodre-Alexander, UN Environment Programme (UNEP), also urged raising awareness and encouraging attitude changes and behavior changes. She gave examples of specific youth initiatives, as well as providing strategies for DDR via graduate-level teaching modules and training courses.

Simona Zeroska, Tunza Youth Advisor for UNEP, described her own Tunza experience in Sweden as a child, and said her role in UNEP is to provide the youth with sustainable perspectives. Zeroska also discussed Global Environmental Outlook for Youth (GEO for Youth), a youth-targeted summary of recent environmental reports.

Julia Viehöfer, UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), spoke about addressing climate change through the Global Action Programme on education for sustainable development. She recommended strengthening the capacities of education planners and educators.

Kartikeya Sarabhai, Centre for Environment Education (CEE), highlighted the role of research in mainstreaming education.

Verona Collantes, UN Women, presented on empowering elected women representatives using an informal training at the village-level through storytelling, songs, and games. This approach, she said, has been adopted as a programme throughout India on a countrywide scale due to its success. [IISD RS ENBOTS coverage] [IISD RS video coverage]