Rethinking education for a climate-resilient future

Education is widely recognized as a critical enabler of climate action. Tomorrow, GPE is launching a new framework for climate-smart education systems to achieve 3 goals: protect and advance quality, relevant and equitable education; protect the planet’s life systems; and promote climate justice.

April 12, 2023 by Anna-Maria Tammi, GPE Secretariat, Sarah Beardmore, GPE Secretariat, and Raphaelle Martinez, GPE Secretariat
4 minutes read
A young boy holds his school books outside Shree Ram Narayan Ayodhaya School, Pipra, Mahottari District, Nepal. Credit: GPE / Kelley Lynch
A young boy holds his school books outside Shree Ram Narayan Ayodhaya School, Pipra, Mahottari District, Nepal.
Credit: GPE / Kelley Lynch

Recently, Cyclone Freddy became a record-breaking storm, accumulating as much cyclone energy–or wind strength–as is usually generated during an entire North Atlantic hurricane season. The World Meteorological Organization is investigating whether it is also the longest-lasting tropical cyclone on record.

The cyclone ravaged Malawi, Mozambique and Madagascar for over a month, claiming 605 lives and affecting more than 1.4 million people.

In Malawi alone nearly half a million children are unable to attend school, as buildings are deemed unsafe and those left standing have doubled as accommodation for some of the 362,000 people who have been displaced.

Climate change has already made our planet 1.1 degrees Celsius hotter than pre-industrial times, exacerbating the frequency, severity and duration of weather and climate extremes that bring in their wake widespread loss, damage and disruption.

Cyclone Freddy is an example of what is to come: the IPCC’s latest report is clear that the risks and projected adverse impacts from climate change will escalate with every increment of global warming and that the risks will increasingly interact, becoming more complex and difficult to manage.

Climate change will also worsen the global learning crisis, further undermining our ability to enable students to develop the knowledge, values and skills needed to adapt and respond to the consequences of a warming world.

Education is widely recognized as a critical enabler of climate action in key international agreements such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Paris Agreement, and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Despite these global commitments, there is a shortfall in implementing meaningful and urgent systemic changes that, together, add up to a duly calibrated response to intensifying climate change and deteriorating ecosystems.

As a result, education systems continue to be underprepared. Action to reform education provision to better prepare children for the present and future of the climate and environmental crisis is increasingly urgent.

This imperative calls for an integrated framework that maximizes co-benefits between efforts to build climate resilience, advance environmental sustainability and achieve quality, equitable and inclusive education for all.

Toward climate-smart education systems

In response to requests from GPE partner countries for support in addressing climate change and in line with our strategy–which aims to build resilient education systems fit for the 21st century–GPE has developed a working paper Toward Climate-Smart Education Systems: A 7-Dimension Framework for Action to help maximize complementarity between presently siloed approaches for climate resilience and climate action in the education sector.

Our working paper is based on a rich background paper Quality Education with the Planet in Mind: Towards a Climate-Responsive and Nature-Positive Framework for the Education System of Lower Income Countries,” commissioned by GPE and authored by Fumiyo Kagawa and David Selby from Sustainability Frontiers.

In our paper, we propose a framework to leverage potential entry points within education systems to strengthen the resilience and relevance of education to climate change and environmental degradation.

The framework highlights opportunities for leveraging the role of education in wider climate change, disaster risk and environmental efforts and identifies gaps in evidence and practice.

The paper also highlights existing frameworks and approaches related to the seven dimensions that policy makers can use to guide sector dialogue.

The working paper sets out that a climate-smart education systems ultimately works to achieve three interrelated goals: protecting and advancing quality, relevant and equitable education, protecting the planet’s life systems and promoting climate justice.

Goals of a climate-smart education system.
Goals of a climate-smart education system.

The framework outlines seven dimensions of the education system that should be seen as interrelated, as achievements under one dimension are not sustainable in isolation.

Gender has a cross-cutting role, given both the disproportionate impacts of climate change on girls and women, but also the power of gender equality to advance climate justice while tackling climate change and protecting our ecosystems.

The scope of the framework covers early childhood, pre-primary, primary and secondary levels of formal education, and nonformal education for school-age children and young people, given GPE’s focus on 12 years of education plus pre-primary.

Seven dimensions of a climate-smart education system.
Seven dimensions of a climate-smart education system.

Building a coalition for climate-smart education

Empowering children and young people through quality and equitable education is key to unlocking solutions for climate change and environmental sustainability. Our goal is to create a coalition of actors that emphasizes the role of education in both climate resilience and climate action.

We hope that the framework and the gaps it identifies inspire researchers to continue developing an evidence base in these areas and that GPE partner countries find the framework valuable as they engage in dialogue about key system transformation priorities.

We encourage stakeholders in the education, climate and environment communities to provide their feedback on this framework and collaborate with us to support partner countries in addressing the intertwined challenges of learning outcomes, climate change and environmental degradation. This working paper is a starting point on which we intend to build upon and improve.

Collaborative efforts are needed from climate and education policy makers, educators, environmental activists, researchers and communities themselves to integrate climate change and environmental considerations into the fabric of education systems.

As the earth’s climate changes and grows more unstable, there is no time to lose to ensure that all education systems are climate-smart – ready to support resilience and build a sustainable future for generations to come.


Join us tomorrow, April 13 at 9.30 ET / 15.30 CET for the launch event of “Toward Climate-Smart Education Systems: A 7-Dimension Framework for Action” co-organized with the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution.

Learn more and register

Related blogs

cet article est très intéressant ;merci pour toutes ces informations .

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required.

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Plain text

  • Global and entity tokens are replaced with their values. Browse available tokens.
  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.