An exciting year of activism for quality climate education for all

published 21 December 2022 updated 24 January 2023

As the second year of the Teach for the Planet campaign draws to a close, we look back at some of the highlights of 2022, including increasing recognition of education in climate policy, putting climate issues firmly on the agenda for education policy at the international level, and enhancing union understanding of a just transition in the education sector.

In 2022, Teach for the Planet included a wealth of campaign activities advancing quality climate education and a just transition for all.

Climate firmly on the agenda for education policy

One of the main objectives of the campaign is to ensure quality climate education is available to all students everywhere. To achieve this goal, we have been working to influence education policy making processes at the international level, emphasising the key role education must play in fighting climate change.

At the Transforming Education Summit hosted by the United Nations in September, EI Executive Board Members Randi Weingarten and Johanna Jaara Astrand spoke about quality climate change education for all and reiterated the teaching profession’s vision of how to achieve it.

The Youth Declaration and the Secretary General’s Vision statement both called for action to ensure education systems respond to the climate crisis. A third of national commitments made for the Summit pledged to integrate climate change education into curricula and to green school infrastructure.

EI is also proud to be a founding member of UNESCO’s Greening Education Partnership, which was launched this year with the aim of supporting and encouraging governments to transform schools, learning, teacher training, and communities to enable quality climate education.

Education as a valuable tool in climate policies

During 2022, we continued our global analysis of the inclusion of education in countries’ climate policies.

A first update of the research conducted for EI by Christina Kwauk was published in March and focused on the level of climate education ambition in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Launched during the first ever MENA Climate Week, the study found that the region falls far behind other countries when it comes to harnessing the power of education in their climate policies. However, education unions in the region are stepping up their advocacy for quality climate education.

In November, EI launched the final update of our global analysis ahead of COP27. The study analysed 140 nationally determined contributions (about 73% of parties to the Paris Agreement). Only one third of countries mention education at all and none live up to the ambition of EI’s Manifesto on Quality Climate Change Education for All.

At COP27, the EI delegation joined young activists and the global union movement to call for climate education, a just transition, and climate justice for all. Recognition of education’s role in addressing the climate crisis is growing and education is set to be a key theme of COP 28.

A just transition in the education sector

In October we launched new research exploring the impact of the climate crisis on education and educators’ vision of a just transition in their sector. The study showed that education unions advocate for a broad notion of a just transition, both defending educators’ right to decent work in the context of the worsening climate crisis and calling for adapted public education systems that prepare students with green skills and to take climate action.

At COP27, EI hosted an event that brought together union leaders and activists to discuss how we can work to ensure a just transition in education. Watch the event below!

Gender equality for a sustainable tomorrow

The gendered impacts of the climate crisis and the young women rising to lead the way towards a sustainable future were also featured prominently in the campaign this year.

On March 8th, International Women’s Day, two podcasts gave climate activists and union leaders the opportunity to discuss the intersections of gender equality and climate justice. At the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), EI President Susan Hopgood highlighted the critical role of social dialogue and climate education for a women and worker led just transition to a green economy.

In June, the 4th EI World Women’s Conference featured a special session on the young women who power climate justice. The “Meet the Movement Movers” session saw Michelle Codrington-Rogers (NASUWT, UK) leading an inspiring and mobilising conversation with climate activists Laura Verónica Muñoz (Colombia), Mitzi Jonelle Tan (the Philippines), Phoebe Hanson (UK), and Vanessa Nakate (Uganda).

Education unions mobilised

The Teach for the Planet campaign is led by a large group of education unions from across the world, coming together to form the EI Climate Network. The Network met four times in 2022, sharing projects and ideas that drive climate activism in the education sector.

In its latest meeting (13 December 2022), the Network participated in a teach-in led by Indigenous Climate Action in order to learn about the organisation’s efforts to decolonise climate policy in Canada and how educators can center Indigenous perspectives, values, knowledge, and solutions on climate change in their classrooms, unions, and communities.

Education unions are determined to continue this important work in 2023 and beyond.