Planning is the starting point for climate-resilient education systems

Education is increasingly vulnerable to climate change, but has an important role to play in helping learning communities and education systems mitigate and adapt to it. Read how IIEP-UNESCO is working with ministries of education to enhance their capacities for crisis-sensitive educational planning.

December 07, 2022 by Leonora MacEwen, IIEP/UNESCO, Jean Claude Ndabananiye, IIEP/UNESCO, Diana Ortiz, IIEP/UNESCO, Thalia Séguin, IIEP/UNESCO, and Mathilde Tréguier, IIEP/UNESCO
5 minutes read
Students make their way to school after heavy floods in Sariakandi Upazila, Bogra, Bangladesh on 9 September 2014. Credit: UNICEF/UNI170476/Paul
Students make their way to school after heavy floods in Sariakandi Upazila, Bogra, Bangladesh on 9 September 2014.
Credit: UNICEF/UNI170476/Paul

Equitable, inclusive, transformative – these are all ideals for global education today. But what about climate resilient?

Frequent and intense extreme weather events are already putting the lives and livelihoods of millions of people around the world in peril, especially for the most disadvantaged and vulnerable, including marginalized girls, and the situation is expected to worsen.

Take the case of Madagascar, the 21st most vulnerable country to climate change, which normally has three to four annual cyclones. This year six tropical storms and cyclones hit the island, affecting some 571,000 people between January and April. As a result, in January and February 2022, education stopped for more than 133,000 learners as tropical storms destroyed more than 2,500 classrooms.

Similarly, an unprecedented monsoon season in Pakistan submerged more than one-third of the country, damaging or destroying nearly 19,000 schools and affecting around 3.4 million children.

Education is increasingly vulnerable to climate change. It has the potential to impact education both directly, by putting children’s and teachers’ lives and well-being at risk, and by destroying education infrastructure and learning materials.

Climate change also impacts education indirectly by exacerbating food insecurity, land loss, forced migration, and conflict. However, education has an important role to play in helping learning communities and education systems mitigate and adapt to climate change.

That’s why IIEP-UNESCO is working hand-in-hand with ministries of education to enhance their capacities for crisis-sensitive educational planning (CSP), which aims to protect learning even in the most difficult circumstances. Through its participatory, cross-sectoral approach, CSP strives to overcome inequity and exclusion in education while encouraging a culture of risk awareness across all levels of the education system.

CSP orients education systems towards being proactive instead of reactive in the face of risks. For climate change, this includes adaptation measures such as building climate-resilient schools and developing contingency plans, as well as mitigation measures like integrating climate change into school curricula and ensuring that teachers receive relevant training.

Crisis-sensitive educational planning approach

In this sense, education is not just a victim of climate change. It is part of the solution and can accelerate climate action. But education actors must fully understand risks and know where and when to integrate various adaptation and mitigation measures into the educational planning cycle.

IIEP’s work in Jordan, as well as Guyana, Liberia, and Madagascar, to name a few, provide some clues on the different entry points for climate risk management.

Making all stages of the planning cycle climate-resilient

No matter where a country is in the planning cycle, relevant and effective measures can be put in place. This is especially true when planning represents the voices of many – e.g., national and sub-national authorities, school communities, and youth, including the most vulnerable, such as girls or young women.

Mitigation and adaptation measures should ideally be mainstreamed from the start of the planning cycle, either as an integral part of an education sector analysis (ESA) or as an education sector risk assessment.

In Jordan, a risk assessment, covering climate change, is being carried out as part of IIEP’s support to the Ministry of Education to develop a Crisis and Risk Management (CRM) strategy for the education sector.

The assessment is helping the Ministry to understand the effects of climate change – brought on by extreme temperatures, landslides, flash floods, droughts, and other events – on the education system.

In some contexts, a climate risk analysis draws on the triangulation of education data with geocoded weather information to create maps that reveal which schools are in risk-prone areas.

These analyses then inform the development of relevant climate adaptation and mitigation plans, programs, or strategies to enhance climate resilience at different levels from central and middle-tier down to school and community levels.

In Liberia, the Ministry of Education has integrated climate mitigation and adaptation measures into its next education sector plan (ESP), which will run until 2027.

Jordan’s ongoing work on crisis-sensitive planning aims to mainstream climate change to ensure that all education actors – including communities, students, teachers, and middle-tier leaders– can anticipate, prepare for, and adapt to the effects of climate change. At the central level, this includes creating a conducive policy framework, as well as fostering education for sustainable development (ESD) through the inclusion of climate change in curricula and teacher training. At the middle-tier and school levels, this includes school-level contingency plans with a focus on localized climate-change threats, and the construction of climate-resilient school infrastructure.

But a plan is only as good as its implementation

To ensure effective implementation of climate-related measures, ministries of education and their partners need to involve subnational authorities, local communities, and youth, including those most impacted by climate change. These should then be underpinned by monitoring plans and accompanied by evidence-based costing and financing models.

Together, education stakeholders should conduct regular monitoring to track progress on climate change measures and reorient strategies considering new developments and information.

To this end, strengthening education management information systems (EMIS) to collect and analyze climate change data requires consultation with stakeholders from multiple sectors, including from ministries of environment and national disaster management authorities.

Effective implementation also depends on financial resources. As these are often limited, it is crucial to maximize them by investing in projects that generate the greatest impact. IIEP is now accompanying ministries of education in resource mobilization to strengthen ministry leadership during crises and to strengthen inter-sectoral collaboration.

Global urgency, local stakes

The widespread learning crisis has brought education to a tipping point, where 70% of 10-year-olds in low- and middle-income countries cannot read and understand a simple text. The disproportionate burden these children will carry from climate change will only tip the scales further.

Educational planning that is sensitive to climate change, is the starting point for climate-resilient education systems and an opportunity for a different future.

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Nice blog thanks for uploading


It is hoped a digital museum can also be a useful step to inspire all students/ teachers/ policy makers.

(school, college, university)
The possibility to co-create educational pathways for environment education and climate change awareness can be tried though international forums. The importance of considering various forms of environment has far reaching impact. Some examples can be seen through this framework.
Reaching all hearts to consider all forms of environment

Considering all forms of environment

Cognitive environment

Psychological environment

Physical environment

Languages environment

Cultural environment

Visible environment

Invisible environment

Social environment

(And many more types)
Imagine- the inspiring impact it can make in many ways.
(And many more stakeholders from all over the world can join to include new partners & expand the scope/ make impact).

An important initiative - well done and keep up the good work

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