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GLOBAL ALLIANCE - climate change Education

Our Global Alliance on Climate Change and Sustainability Education is led by the group's Chair and its members. The Alliance Chair and members are appointed by GISA, and the association assists the group by providing logistical support, which include the coordination of meetings and overseeing the production of key outputs. The group’s Chair will work with GISA to determine the scope of work and appropriate terms of reference for its operations. If you are interested in joining this group, please contact us.

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      Education is now a top priority for the international community in the struggle against climate change. A new Global Alliance, created by the Global Independent Schools Association (GISA), will work to coordinate climate change action across hundreds of the world’s leading independent schools and act as a valuable resource for policymakers and education experts.

      Recent years have seen growing pressure on education providers to put climate change at the centre of curricula. In 2021, a grouping of government representatives and civil society actors issued a declaration calling for climate action to be a core component of education systems.[1] That call was repeated at last year’s Transforming Education Summit, a landmark gathering on the future of education hosted by the UN secretary general in New York. Education is now expected to occupy a prominent role in the discussions at COP28, the next global climate change conference that will take place in Dubai this November.

      But change has been slow in coming. While most States have now signed up to delivering climate change education, as part of the wider global agreements intended to address global warming, many are lagging behind in implementing it in the classroom.[2] A landmark analysis of the national curricula of 100 countries by UNESCO has found that just 53% mention climate change.[3] The data also show that there is minimal reference to climate change education in the curricula in the regions which are most responsible for driving carbon emissions, including in Europe and North America. 

      The lack of a systematic approach is frustrating teachers, who overwhelmingly support climate change education. A 2021 poll by UNESCO of over 58,000 teachers from 144 countries found that nearly 95% thought that teaching climate change was important. However, just 40% of teachers said that they felt confident to teach the issue.[4]

      The independent school sector now has an opportunity to show its leadership on the issue, ahead of COP28. Many of the largest operators of independent school chains have already prioritized climate change education in their curricula, although they have taken different approaches to the issue. But a coordinated approach on climate change education, informed by GISA, could significantly increase the sector’s impact. The association could also become a valuable resource for governments and the international community, by sharing best-practice and showing how to implement new approaches.

      One key opportunity is to work with the UN through its “Greening Education Partnership”. This global initiative, announced in October 2022, aims to give learners worldwide the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes they need to tackle climate change and promote sustainable development. It encourages partners to act across four areas: Greening Schools, Greening Learning, Greening Capacity and Readiness, and Greening Communities.[5]

      To this end, GISA has created the Global Alliance on Climate Change Education, to discuss how to implement knowledge around global warming effectively and at scale across the association’s membership. The group is intended to bring together the expertise and experience of a wide range of stakeholders across the spectrum of education and climate change policymaking, from school leaders to experts on climate change, to representatives of global bodies working on education and development. It will be charged with two broad areas of work:

      ·       Greening the Independent Schools sector: Aligning climate change education efforts across GISA’s network, by mapping current implementation in schools worldwide and making recommendations to school operators and leaders.

      ·       Identifying best-practice: Making recommendations to government about best practice on climate change education, drawn from case studies of schools across GISA’s membership.

    [1] See eg the Berlin Declaration on ESD, 2021 and the Transforming Education Summit in New York in 2022.

    [2] Article 6 of the Framework Convention on Climate Change and Article 12 of the Paris Agreement

    [3] Getting every school climate-ready: How countries are integrating climate change issues in education, UNESCO, 2021

    [4] Getting every school climate-ready: How countries are integrating climate change issues in education, UNESCO, 2021

    [5] “Greening Education Partnership: Getting Every Learner Climate-Ready”, United Nations, October 2023

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