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UNESCO Director-General Addresses Climate Change and Education

26 November 2010: Irina Bokova, UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Director-General, delivered a keynote address at a UN University (UNU) Public Symposium titled "Climate Change and Education: UNESCO's Role in the 2010s." 

She presented an overview of UNESCO's initiatives on climate change, stressing the need to cope with its social aspects and the importance of disaster risk reduction (DRR). Bokova reminded participants that climate change is at the centre of the activities carried out under the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014), lead by UNESCO.

She explained how climate change is integrated into UNESCO's four angles for approaching education and sustainable development. On the first angle, which relates to the provision of quality basic education, she underlined the threat posed by climate change and natural disasters to school enrollment and completion rates. On the second angle, which is on the re-orienting of existing education programmes, she stressed the need to educate the youth about climate change and how to generate solutions. On the third, which concerns UNESCO's work on public awareness and understanding, she called for deep behavioural changes, from energy use to consumer habits. On the fourth angle, which addresses the need for adequate training, she emphasized the need for professional development and training on climate change, noting that many of today's adults were educated prior to climate change becoming an issue and a threat to development.

Emphasizing the vital role played by education in disaster reduction and preparedness, she outlined UNESCO's work in this area, highlighting the release of the Environmental Kit on Desertification, the teaching Resource Kit for Dryland Countries, and the Youth Xchange Programme carried out in collaboration with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). She also addressed: the link between gender equality and climate change education; local and indigenous communities; and the role of UNESCO Chairs. [Symposium Webcast] [Bokova's Lecture Transcript]