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.