Dubai: Dubai Cares recently participated at the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Egypt, calling for climate change to be integrated in curricula.
The participation of Dubai Cares, a civil society organisation formally associated with the United Nations Department of Global Communications, in the event was centred on its ongoing efforts to highlight the connection between climate action and education that is also reflective of the inter-connectedness of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The UAE-based global philanthropic organisation’s narrative at COP27 was built on the recommendations of its ‘Framework for Global Education Transformation and the Rewiring Education for People and Planet Report’ that calls for a “whole-of-society ecosystem” approach built on cross-sectoral collaboration as crucial to leveraging education for the achievement of all SDGs.
One of the report’s six “win-win” solutions, in particular, addresses climate change by asking stakeholders to adapt education systems to build climate resilience and develop “green skills”.
Towards greener economies
Dubai Cares participated in a number of sessions and meetings at the event, engaging with high-level officials on ways to encourage governments around the world to integrate climate education in their national agendas, while equipping youth with green skills and involving them in decision-making by creating green job opportunities that allow them to contribute to greener economies.
According to 2021 UNESCO data from 100 countries, 47 per cent of national curriculum frameworks made no reference to climate change, with less than 40 per cent of teachers feeling confident in teaching it and only one-third being capable of explaining well the effects of climate change on their region or locality to their students.
Dr Tariq Al Gurg, CEO and vice-chairman of Dubai Cares, participated in the inaugural meeting on Greening Education Partnership in Sharm El Sheikh, which was initially launched at the Transforming Education Summit in September at the 77th UN General Assembly.
During the meeting, Dr Al Gurg along with other senior officials including Stefania Giannini, assistant director-general for education at UNESCO, Baroness Barran MBE, parliamentary undersecretary of state minister for the School and College System in the United Kingdom, as well as other key donors and UN entities discussed how stakeholders can support the partnership based on the ongoing programmes and initiatives on climate change education, and what additional action needs to be planned.
Climate change in curriculum
“We must prioritise integrating climate change in our education systems globally because we cannot tackle health, food insecurity, poverty, gender inequality and other critical issues without climate. We also cannot address climate issues without involving education. Our current education systems lack the ability to prepare our children and youth for climate action as it largely operates in isolation from other sectors. A whole-of-society ecosystem approach powered by cross-sectoral collaboration is the answer to transforming and rewiring our education systems in a way that integrates climate in curricula and leverages the potential of our children and youth for real climate action,” said Dr Al Gurg during the session.
Dr Al Gurg also delivered a keynote speech at a COP27 side event hosted by the Future Economy Forum and Climate Governance Commission, in partnership with Dubai Cares, Global Partnership for Education, UNESCO, Schools 2030, Generation Unlimited, Aga Khan Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation and the LEGO Foundation.
At the session titled ‘Unleashing the Power of Education for the Future of the Planet: What’s Our Investment Case Moving Forward?’, Dr Al Gurg spoke about the importance of building a community between climate and education for COP28.
Creating a sustainable future
Dr Al Gurg also joined a panel discussion on ‘Creating a Sustainable Future through Education: Setting the Road Map for Action and Impact’, hosted by the UK Department for Education together with Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). As part of his intervention, Dr Al Gurg noted that coordination at the highest levels is required to ensure that climate education is among top priorities at global events and that we need to involve all stakeholders and take into account the perspectives of different voices to amplify the urgency of the climate crisis.