This year’s Mother Earth Day, celebrated on 22 April, has a special focus on education and climate change, and is an opportunity to look at what UN Climate Change and others are doing on the issue. Education and training are crucial to enable citizens to contribute to local and global efforts to meet the climate change challenge and the challenge of sustainable development. Increased knowledge and learning about the causes and impacts of climate change improves and protects lives.
UN Climate Change works with many governments, UN partner agencies and NGOs as part of its “Action for Climate Empowerment” (ACE) initiative. One such NGO is the Mohammed VI Foundation for Environmental Protection. The Foundation’s Coordinator Ayman Cherkaoui says:
“In the context of climate change, we are a strong supporter of Action for Climate Empowerment and highlighting the importance of connecting education with climate action. We believe that education is at the core of everything we need to do both in terms of the climate space and the broader 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”
Through education, people can become more aware of their role as consumers and are empowered to make ethically informed decisions.
For example, communities can contribute to a solution-oriented public dialogue, while engaging local decision-makers in taking meaningful action and shaping climate policy.
And better education can help people fully deploy clean energy and prepare for more extreme weather resulting from climate change such as droughts and floods. You can find useful ACE resources here.
Climate education is a key component of the UN climate process
The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Paris Climate Change Agreement formally encourage international cooperation among countries on climate change education, training, public awareness, public participation and public access to information.
To be effective, educational initiatives require a prominent place in countries’ national climate action plans - their nationally determined contributions (NDCs).
The next round of national climate action plans under the Paris Agreement will be submitted to the UN in 2020, and countries are already working on more ambitious updates, which will be crucial to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals. The more prominently education and training feature in these plans, the better for the climate.
Earth Day Network focusses on species protection
Many other groups are celebrating Earth Day and have created educational and outreach tools. This year’s Earth Day Network theme is “Protect our Species”. The campaign aims to educate and raise awareness about the rapid reduction of plant and wildlife populations caused by human activities which also cause climate change, including deforestation, and pollution.
The core message is that taking action and working together to protect biodiversity improves the health and well-being of the entire community.
Check out the Earth Day 2019 Toolkit for Cities and Local leaders, which includes a number of plans that cities can implement to protect species and inspire the community to take action.
You can also find more resources provided by Earth Day Network here including Toolkits for climate education that are designed help students to take action to protect species.
You can celebrate Earth Day with World Wildlife Fund by taking the pledge to protect life on Earth.
And NASA invites you to share photos of Earth’s life, motion, and beauty on social media with hashtag #PictureEarth on Earth Day 2019.
For inspiration, watch how NASA pictures Earth through a collection of some of their best and most iconic satellite images and data visualizations captured over the last year:
Note: During the commemoration of 10th anniversary of International Mother Earth Day, the Ninth Interactive Dialogue of the General Assembly on Harmony with Nature will be held on 22 April 2019 in the Trusteeship Council Chamber in New York.