From the 6 – 18 November, world leaders are gathering in the Egyptian city of Sharm al-Sheikh for the annual United Nations (UN) climate summit known as COP27. COP stands for ‘Conference of the Parties’ and this year is the 27th meeting, with the countries having attended every year since they signed the UN climate agreement in 1992. Faced with a number of climate-related issues, including rising global temperatures, an increase in extreme weather events and a growing energy crisis, COP27 aims to unite the globe to tackle the climate crisis and ensure solidarity between the attending parties for people and the planet.
One of the main aims of this year’s conference is to ensure that the voice of future generations is amplified. On November 10th the conference will hold a Youth and Future Generation Day in order to hear the priorities and concerns of younger representatives and ensure that these are reflected in the climate agenda by allowing intergenerational discussion between policymakers, negotiators, young practitioners, advocates and experts. The sessions held throughout the day will aim to amplify and promote the specific challenges and efforts led by younger people across the world, as well as addressing how to get younger people further involved in the movement against the growing climate emergency – including through education.
Education has always been a main aim of various climate debates since the year of the initial climate agreement in 1992, when 172 countries all agreed on a plan of action called Agenda 21. This stated:
“Education is critical for promoting sustainable development and improving the capacity of the people to address environment and development issues”
Despite this, and despite climate change being a global issue which will have a much larger impact on future generations, most young people in the UK believe that education surrounding climate change is inadequate. Many will only have encountered discussion on social media or dramatic headlines in the news.
It is vitally important that young people understand climate change, the impact it has and how they can make a difference and advocate for a better future. More education and a better understanding of the challenges we face is the first step in taking action to make a difference.
“While basic education provides the underpinning for any environmental and development education, the latter needs to be incorporated as an essential part of learning”
Education is one of the biggest factors in empowering young people to act as agents for change.
Youth-led global movements have demonstrated the impact that students and young people can have on their wider communities. International movements, such as Fridays for Future – founded by Greta Thunberg in 2018 – play a massive role in spreading awareness of how we as humans adversely impact the environment and contribute to the growing affects of climate change. The group was inspired after Greta sat in front of the Swedish Parliament for three weeks to raise political awareness to the climate emergency. This attracted the interest and support of millions of students worldwide (14 million+ over 7,500 cities!) who have been taking part in protests ever since, urging governments across the globe to take action.
Furthermore, a report by a committee of MPs has shown that learning about climate change and the environment can open up career paths for young people and recommend that teaching about sustainability and climate should be embedded into the curriculum across all schools and colleges in the UK.
Youth and Future Generations Day at COP27 today should not be the only opportunity for younger voices to be heard, or for young people to learn about the environment. Future generations are being encouraged to engage in conversation to raise political understanding and promote environmental awareness both inside and outside the classroom.
The youth have shown a hope for change – and it’s time to promote education in order to empower them as stakeholders of the future.
If you are interested in learning more, please visit the COP27 website (https://www.cop27.eg/#/)
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