UN Alliance Meeting on Climate Change Education: More Synergies and Action

During the UN Alliance Meeting on Education, Training, and Public Awareness on Climate Change, held on 3-7 April 2017, participants from over a dozen UN agencies discussed the status of education and training programmes on climate change within the UN system. Hosted by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Secretariat, at the UN Campus in Bonn, Germany, participants provided updates on lessons learned over the past five years, and strategized on how to scale up and synergize existing climate change education platforms.

Much of the discussions on the overarching theme “Action for Climate Empowerment” revolved around how existing activities can be linked between different UN organizations, and how these activities can be adapted to help nations implement Article 12 of the Paris Agreement[1]. Education was recognized as being critical in helping the Parties meet their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the Paris Agreement, and therefore, UN programmes on climate change education will have to play an important role in the Parties’ national strategies. To date, 102 out of 195 member states have designated Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) educational focal points. These focal points help in the implementation of effective climate change education policies and programmes.

The second day of the meeting centered on the One UN Climate Change Learning Partnership (UNCC: Learn) – a collaborative of more than 30 multilateral organizations which supports countries in designing and implementing national learning strategies to address climate change. Projects have already been launched in nine nations, namely: Benin, Burkina Faso, Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Ghana, Indonesia, Malawi, Niger, and Uganda. The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), the Secretariat of UNCC:Learn, also shared their experiences with the Climate Classroom, a capacity building programme for attendants of UNFCCC COP events.

A large part of the conference focused on how UN organizations can best maximize synergies, and make use of available expertise and resources through better coordination. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) stressed the need for an approach for climate change education (both mitigation and adaptation) in the context of each country’s needs. This would better respond to both the COP22 Decision on the Doha work programme and the need to leverage funds for climate change education for the member states.

UNEP also emphasized the need for UN organizations to synergize existing programmes to streamline climate action projects from different donors, including the Green Climate Fund. UNEP and UNESCO, together with other UN agencies, and the UNFCCC are planning to map existing climate education programmes in the UN system and beyond to help create national strategies on climate education. It will be of paramount importance to establish a clear link between the work of the member organizations of the UN Alliance and the UNFCCC process, tying this to adaptation and/or mitigation outcomes in the member states.


[1] Parties shall cooperate in taking measures, as appropriate, to enhance climate change education, training, public awareness, public participation and public access to information, recognizing the importance of these steps with respect to enhancing actions under this Agreement.