Understanding the interplay of fragility, conflict and climate change for education – Part 2

How to take into account the impacts of climate change in fragile and conflict-affected contexts on education planning and implementation?

July 10, 2024 by Anna-Maria Tammi, GPE Secretariat, and Spandana Battula, IFC
4 minutes read
Tamara Thenga (R) and Grace Msampha (L) standing in front of what used to be the canteen of their school destroyed by the tropical storm Ana that hit Malawi in 2022. Credit: UNICEF/UN0583729/
Tamara Thenga (R) and Grace Msampha (L) standing in front of what used to be the canteen of their school destroyed by the tropical storm Ana that hit Malawi in 2022.
Credit: UNICEF/UN0583729/

This blog continues our analysis of the relationship between fragility, conflict and climate change. Part 1 considered the impacts of climate change on fragility and conflict as well as effective climate action in fragile and conflict-affected contexts. Part 2 reflects on the implications for education planning and delivery in fragile and conflict-affected contexts in the coming decades.

Education's role in mitigating conflict and climate change

Education is a vital tool for mitigating conflict and fostering climate resilience. Access to education, especially for marginalized groups, not only promotes social cohesion but also equips individuals with the skills needed to adapt to climate change and contribute to sustainable development.

Research indicates that countries with higher levels of education experience fewer conflicts, emphasizing the role of education in building peaceful societies in the long run.

Emerging research is delving into how education can be a driver and pillar of peaceful societies: it highlights that higher rates of both primary and lower secondary school completion, especially for girls, show positive correlations with factors known to create and sustain peaceful societies.

The study also reveals that countries with higher learning-adjusted years of schooling experience fewer conflicts and an increase in safety and security. Other evidence shows that high levels of education inequality between identity groups predicts a substantially greater risk of violent conflict compared to the global average.

Moreover, education serves as a catalyst for climate action, empowering individuals to understand and address environmental challenges. Key international agreements recognize the important role of education in accelerating climate action and acknowledge young people as potential agents and advocates of change.

Implications for education planning and programming

In 2023, a new declaration on climate, relief, recovery and peace was launched at COP28 that calls for bolder collective action for climate resilience in conflict-affected contexts. Reflecting on our analysis in part 1 and the implications of the declaration for education planning and programming, we highlight the following actions for the education community:

Scaling up resources and promoting flexible and evidence-based approaches

  • Fragile and conflict-affected contexts bear the brunt of climate change, with climate change amplifying existing humanitarian crises. This calls for continuing to scale up education finance to fragile and conflict-affected contexts at large, including for climate-related investments in education, and strengthening the technical and institutional capacity of national governments and local actors to manage those resources.
  • Engagement in fragile and conflict-affected contexts calls for greater adaptability in implementation and delivery of programs, such as through anticipatory action and course corrections to plans and programs as contexts evolve.
  • While the evidence base on the intersection of climate and education is improving, specific consideration is needed about effective climate-related investments in contexts affected by fragility or conflict. Enhancing exchange of information between countries and regions is critical.

Ensuring equity and inclusion, including in decision-making

  • Addressing exclusion today can strengthen education resilience during future climate-related shocks and improve social cohesion. Investments in education must be informed by the needs of the most vulnerable and hard-to-reach populations and communities.
  • Recognizing the negative implications of climate change and conflict on girls and other marginalized children like those with disabilities, gender and inclusion considerations need to be mainstreamed in all education-related efforts, including in risk and vulnerability mappings.
  • For effective responses, it is essential to promote the leadership and empowerment of affected groups in all education planning and programming, including supporting civil society voices in local education groups in fragile contexts.

Taking integrated approaches to addressing conflict and climate change

  • Like all planning and programming in fragile and conflict-affected contexts, climate-related investments must avoid reinforcing existing grievances and vulnerabilities. This calls for incorporating conflict-sensitive approaches in climate-related investments in education, which take into account the context-specific dynamics between climate change and conflict.
  • To maximize the synergies of education investments for both climate resilience and peacebuilding in fragile and conflict-affected contexts, plans and programs should better articulate the contributions of investments to both these ends. Guidance in the sector could be strengthened to help policy makers and practitioners better see these connections.

Understanding the connections between fragility, conflict and climate change is increasingly essential for devising effective approaches to education planning and delivery in order to address educational inequities. At the same time, by leveraging the transformative power of education, societies can build both climate resilience and peace.

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