After COP28, How Can We Promote Climate Education in Schools and Universities?

With COP28, the United Nations climate-change summit in Dubai, scheduled to conclude on Tuesday, now is a good time to consider the role of climate education in empowering the next generation to confront the challenges ahead.

Humanity is already experiencing environmental challenges that exceed the limits of resilience. Climate change effects are getting worse, including record-setting heat waves, rising sea levels, increasing frequency of natural disasters, and decreased biodiversity.

Besides research, integrating climate education into curricula in schools and universities is one of the most important measures educators can take in the search for solutions to the challenges discussed at COP28.

This essay seeks to explain why climate education is crucial, suggest some things to consider when implementing it, and highlight its key benefits for young people.

To start with, climate education is crucial for three key reasons:

  • Educating people about climate change and its impacts. Raising people’s awareness of climate change and its impacts makes them more willing to take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the effects of climate change.
  • Equipping people with the necessary skills to contribute to solving climate crisis. Climate education significantly equips people with the necessary skills to contribute to solving the climate crisis. Such skills include critical thinking, problem-solving, and innovation.
  • Building a generation of climate leaders. Climate education also plays a crucial role in building a generation of climate leaders who will lead global efforts to combat climate change.

Putting Climate Education in Place

Many people may wonder how to reform education to enable the next generation to face climate challenges. My answer to them is that this task can be accomplished in three ways.

  • Make climate education compulsory across all school curricula. Climate education should be an integral part of every student’s education, similar to science, mathematics, and language classes. Climate education must cover all educational levels, from primary to tertiary education. This will ensure equipping all students with the knowledge and skills to make informed decisions about climate and adapt to its impacts. Climate curricula should provide an understanding of the basics of climate change, the social, economic, and environmental impacts of climate change, and climate action solutions.
  • Train and support teachers. Teachers need support to teach climate issues effectively. They must be provided with appropriate curricula and training resources, and they must also be supported to integrate climate education into all subjects. Besides books, resources can include websites and interactive tools.
  • Make climate education more interactive and practical. Climate education must be interactive and practical to make it more attractive and effective for students. Educators can achieve this through a variety of educational methods, such as group projects, outdoor activities, and science experiments, while providing opportunities for students to learn from experts in climate change, such as scientists, researchers, and activists.

By taking these steps, we can ensure that students are armed with the knowledge and skills needed to be responsible global citizens, engage in climate action, and build a more sustainable future.

Empowering the Next Generation

Here are some ways in which climate change will benefit the next generation.

  • Developing awareness. Climate education spreads awareness among young people about the impacts and importance of climate change. By providing scientific knowledge and up-to-date information, students can understand the impacts of climate change on the environment, societies, and economies.
  • Capacity enhancement. Climate education helps develop young people’s capabilities in scientific analysis, innovation, and informed decision-making. Students can learn practical skills and techniques related to adapting to climate change and reducing carbon emissions.
  • Promoting sustainable solutions. Climate education provides students with sustainable and innovative solutions to address climate challenges. It also encourages students to think creatively and find sustainable solutions, such as: renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, and smart urban design.
  • Promoting social activism. Climate education encourages social participation and cooperation among students. Students can participate in environmental and community projects aimed at protecting the environment and addressing climate change. This contributes to building their leadership and collaborative capabilities, and enhancing the spirit of teamwork.
  • Influencing policies. Young people with strong climate education can influence policy and decision-making. Young people can become environmental activists and participate in debates and public campaigns to pressure governments and institutions to take more effective action on climate change.
  • Diversity and inclusion. Climate education must be comprehensive, taking into account cultural and social diversity. Inclusiveness must be emphasised; all young people should get equal learning opportunities regardless of their cultural or social backgrounds, because climate education is a powerful tool to empower young people and equip them with the knowledge and skills necessary to address future climate challenges.


Besides all of the above, climate education should work on developing life skills needed to deal with climate challenges.

Students must learn the skills of critical thinking and analysis, informed decision-making, innovation, collaboration, and leadership. They must be able to handle scientific information and climate-related data, evaluate evidence, and take practical action.

It is also important that climate education be social justice-oriented. Equal access to climate education and climate-related opportunities must be achieved for all young people regardless of their socio-economic backgrounds. There must be a focus on reducing gaps and promoting educational equity for youth in marginalised communities.

In addition to promoting climate education in schools and universities, governments and educational institutions must play a major role in promoting community awareness of climate issues. Adequate support and funding must be provided for climate-related research and projects, and partnerships with civil society and the private sector should be encouraged to promote learning and innovation in this field.

In general, climate education should be integrated into all aspects of education, from the curriculum to teacher training. Students must be transformed from mere consumers of knowledge into individuals capable of influencing and positive change in society.

Empowering young people to confront climate challenges requires serious investment in their education, and empowering them with the knowledge and skills necessary to move towards a sustainable future.

Tarek Kapiel is a faculty member in the Faculty of Science’s Department of Biotechnology at Cairo University. You can contact him at [email protected].


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