Education at COP28: exploring, learning, connecting, and planning 

Written by GREEN member Yolande Miller-Grandvaux


The 2023 COP28 held in Dubai will remain a historical landmark for all educators: it featured the first ever education pavilion in 27 years of COP meetings.  From December 2 to 12th, 2023 UNESCO’s Greening Education Partnership and the Ministry of Education of the UAE hosted education meetings and exchanges of ideas in a welcoming space manned by students from local UAE universities. On December 8 – Youth, Children, Education and Skills Day – two events were held back-to-back: the RewirEd Summit, hosted by Dubai Cares, and the First Annual Meeting of the Greening Education Partnership, hosted by UNESCO.  

Dozens of sessions on education and climate were held in the COP’s Blue Zone, open only to accredited party and observer delegates, and not accessible to Green Zone (public) participants. GREEN members Julee Allen, Yolande Miller-Grandvaux, and others were in the Green Zone and RewirEd to explore, learn, connect, and think about the next steps for the global education and climate change agenda. 


Here are a few snippets from recently published or soon to be published research for reflection:  

The World Bank’s forthcoming Education for Climate Action report emphasizes the magnitude of the climate crisis and its direct and indirect impact on education outcomes and on the 1 billion children at high risk of climate shocks. Given that less than 1 in 3 Nationally Determined Contributions plans mention education, “…the world is clearly underusing education as a critical instrument for climate action.”  

With UNESCO support The Monitoring and Evaluating Climate Communication and Education Project (MECCE) is developing benchmark indicators to be proposed to the Global Education Monitoring Report and UNESCO Institute of Statistics  at the 2024 UNGA Transforming Education Summit in NY.

IBM and Microsoft are developing tools that utilize Artificial Intelligence I to supplement teaching support or lack of teaching during school closures. Local climate data can be collected and used as early warning systems to prepare for potential school closures and evacuations due to climate events such as flooding, to protect schools, and ensure the continuity of learning.

FCDO and IRC are exploring the use of parametric insurance to respond to school closures and damage due to climate events while ensuring children and youth safety and protection.

University College London (UCL) researcher Nicola Walshe of the Center for Climate Change and Sustainability presented a research report on climate change and sustainability education. It highlights the needs for a whole school approach while identifying the scientific, social, ethical and policy complexities of teaching climate. We were reminded by researchers that children and youth in urban areas do not connect to nature; rebuilding that connection is the first step towards understanding climate change.

Several sessions advocated for green skills and green jobs, highlighting specific projects and theoretical frameworks, mostly inspired by Unbounded Associates research and work by ILO. A survey by Plan International reminded us that 95% of youth interviewed reported climate change as their number one concern. Investments in gender transformative education, adaptability and resilience, equal access to green jobs, have become a priority. Few or no funders seem to be funding climate and education programs.  


GREEN members joyfully connected: Emma Gremley from IRC Kenya, Estelle Day and Ben Vorspan from World Education, Inge Vandevyvere from VVOB, Koen Timmers and Dave Potter from Take Action Global, Shripathi Hadigal from Restless Development India, Rebecca Chandler Leege and Mark Franz from World Reader, Erna Grasz and Geoffrey Kasangaki from Asante Africa, and others. We were all delighted to meet in person, share stories and plan future collaboration to strengthen GREEN as a network and as a thought leadership actor. GREEN can clearly fill the gaps seen in the current scope of research and knowledge as well as adding value from its collective agency.  

Planning, hoping: 

While COP 28 and RewirEd showed that multi-lateral organizations and some donors are collaborating and setting frameworks for policy formulation, measurement and guidance for practice at global and national levels, the implementation aspect was clearly missing from the RewirEd conference. How about funding? Well, very little seems to be available.  So what? For the first time education was present at the COP table. Let’s prepare for COP29.