“Education is crucial to promote climate action. It helps people understand and address the impacts of the climate crisis, empowering them with the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes needed to act as agents of change.”
- The UN, the Paris Agreement and ACE call for governments to educate, empower and engage stakeholders relating to climate change.
- 3.6 billion people in developing countries are bearing the brunt of climate change. The threat is especially severe in places where people’s livelihoods depend on natural resources like rural communities affecting food security, livelihoods and health.
- Urban areas that depend on goods and services from rural areas will also be affected by climate change driven impacts across the countryside. Urban and rural areas are inextricably linked via climate change.
- Education, particularly in rural communities is often interrupted by the harmful effects of climate change impacting the vulnerable like girls and children.
- Hence educating youth in both urban and rural areas to combat climate change so as to secure the country’s future is critical.
- Stanford University has launched a “School of Sustainability” to tackle climate and sustainability challenges, a sign that more institutions believe that climate education and developing agency and stewardship are critical.
Empathy has guided and enabled human beings to thrive throughout history. At Rangeet we connect the common strand of empathy for Self with those around us in our Societies, and to all life on earth in our Ecological systems. Developing this connection creates a virtuous circle and will drive a change in our relationships with each other and the planet. There has never been a more important time to act.
Climate change is already impacting people’s lives & livelihoods across the Global South, starting what may become the largest mass migration in human history. For example, in recent years, riverbank erosion in Bangladesh has annually displaced between 50,000 and 200,000 people according to Scientific American. A World Bank report estimates that up to 14 million people in India migrated due to climate change in 2020. Scientists predict that these conditions will worsen and trigger a mass exodus. By some estimates, rising sea levels could permanently submerge vast regions and displace millions of people while wreaking havoc on local ecosystems.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently warned of more frequent and intense heat waves, extreme rainfall events and erratic monsoons, droughts as well as more cyclonic activity, among other weather-related calamities, in the coming decades if it continues on its current trajectory. The summer of 2022 has evidenced just this – heatwaves, droughts, forest fires, extreme rainfall events across the world. No country seems to have been spared. According to the Deloitte Economics Institute, the economy could lose $178 trillion in economic value in the next 50 years, if left unchecked.
Action requires education leading to understanding and changes in mindsets. As we have seen, it is the youth who are leading the way towards climate action. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), the Paris Agreement and the associated Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) agenda all call on governments to educate, empower and engage stakeholders and major groups on policies and actions relating to climate change. Through its Education for Sustainable Development programme, UNESCO has been working to make education a more central and visible part of the international response to climate change.
Children need to be educated about ecology and climate change, including the value of ecosystems such as mangroves. For example, the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 proved that mangroves can reduce the loss of life and damage caused by tsunamis by taking the first brunt of the impact and by dissipating the energy of the wave as it passes through the mangrove area. Rangeet’s mission is to develop global stewardship through our Ecology Umbrella, providing the foundation children need to tackle the climate crisis. Children learn about the vital role trees, plants, ecosystems and habitats play in the sustainability of all life on earth; forces that impact the balance of nature leading to far reaching consequences. They understand what happens to waste & the 3Rs – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. They talk about ways in which we can individually and collectively conserve, restore and regenerate vital ecosystems. Children discuss how to make responsible and sustainable choices about consumption. Please refer to Appendix A hereto for an explanation of the Ecology Umbrella and its learning goals.
As part of Rangeet, students from Rajasthan participated in a global event in which they shared and learnt from a diverse audience around the world about climate action. The Rajasthani children also deduced their elders were wasting water & prevailed upon their elders to institute a system to regulate water usage. Data collected from the interventions showed a 30% increase in endline versus baseline tests. Experts say heavy rain events have increased threefold since 1950, but total precipitation has declined and at least a billion people in India currently face severe water scarcity for at least one month annually.
Climate change can have a dramatic impact on our natural resources, economic activities, food security, health and physical infrastructure. India is one of the countries most affected by climate change. The threat is especially severe in places where people’s livelihoods depend on natural resources. In such areas climate adaptation measures take on a special significance for safeguarding rural livelihoods and ensuring sustainable development. Consequently, actions in rural areas are essential to successful climate change adaptation. Rural communities are highly dependent upon natural resources that are affected by climate change, thus affecting their food security, livelihoods, health, and physical infrastructure.
Rural communities face particular geographic and demographic obstacles in responding to and preparing for climate change risks. In particular, physical isolation, limited economic diversity, and higher poverty rates, increase the vulnerability of rural communities. Systems of fundamental importance to rural populations are already stressed by remoteness and limited access. In the Sundarbans, for example, people live in chronic poverty, subsisting primarily on agriculture, fishing, and non-timber forest products they collect from the vast mangrove forests spread across 40 islands. Frequent and extreme climate events have led to rising sea levels and increased salinity of the land and water bodies resulting in chronic food shortages and loss of income.
Rural areas also provide natural resources that much of the rest of the country depends on for food, water, forests, recreation, national character, and quality of life. Rural economic foundations and community cohesion are intricately linked to these natural systems, which are inherently vulnerable to climate change. Urban areas that depend on goods and services from rural areas will also be affected by climate change driven impacts across the countryside.
Furthermore, education is often interrupted by the harmful effects of climate change. Climate change impacts will progressively increase over this century and will shift the locations where rural economic activities (like agriculture, forestry, and recreation) can thrive.
Climate change is also a threat multiplier for the vulnerable, with, for example, an increased number of girls being forced out of school as a result of loss of livelihoods, floods, droughts, changes in rain patterns and so on. Malala Fund research concludes that 4 million girls worldwide are unlikely to complete their education in 2021 due to climate change. This will rise to 12.5 million girls a year by 2025 if nothing is done to alleviate the effects of climate change. Girls’ education can help tackle underlying gender inequalities and harmful gender norms that structure girls’ unique climate vulnerabilities. Girls’ education can impact our collective capacity to address climate change.