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Climate change and sustainability in education: 5 steps we’re taking

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Education is a key tool in the fight against climate change.

The Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy was launched in 2022 and its aim is for the UK to be the world-leading education sector in sustainability and climate change by 2030 – our annual progress update is available here.

Here are five steps we’re taking to make the education sector more sustainable and prepare all young people for a world impacted by climate change.

1. Appointing Youth Focal Points

Young people are at the centre of our climate change and sustainability strategy.

Will Wale and Jodie Bailey-Ho, both university students, are our ‘Youth Focal Points’.

They are working alongside the Department for Education to represent the voice of young people as we continue to deliver on our climate strategy.

Their work so far has included:

  • Attending the International Green Skills Conference.
  • Advising on the development of the new Natural History GCSE.
  • Attending COP28 and contributing to panel discussions.

Read more about their work this year here.

2. Attending COP 28

Building on progress made at COP26 and COP27, this year, education minister Baroness Barran and Will Wale attended the first ever dedicated education day at COP28, where they worked with international partners to drive the development of national education strategies, address climate risk and build more resilient education systems.

The theme of the day was ‘green skills and learning’, and represented an opportunity to champion how we are tackling climate change through our initiatives like National Education Nature Park and the Strategy.

We worked with global partners and UNESCO to develop and launch a climate and education declaration which calls upon Member States to adapt, mitigate and invest in response to climate risks.

Forty countries endorsed the declaration and committed to a series of outcomes on the climate education agenda.

3. Developing climate action plans

We’ve set a target for all education settings to have a sustainability lead and a climate action plan in place by 2025, to help embed sustainability in all they do.

And in 2024, schools, nurseries and colleges will be able to access a new support service to help develop these plans.

A website will help settings take evidence-based action and direct them to the help they need, including on the ground expert and peer to peer help.

4. Expanding the Climate Ambassador Scheme

To provide the on the ground support, we’re expanding the Climate Ambassador scheme.

Climate ambassadors from universities and businesses around the UK provide free support and guidance to teachers, school and college leaders, and everyone involved in the education system.

Led by the University of Reading and STEM Learning, climate ambassadors have already helped more than 80,000 learners and educators to include climate education in the curriculum and reduce their environmental impact.

Visit this link to find out more.

5. Launching the National Education Nature Park

Launched in October with the Natural History Museum and the Royal Horticultural Society, the National Education Nature Park offers children and young people the opportunity to take hands-on action to improve biodiversity and tackle climate change.

Schools, colleges and nurseries that sign up now have access to a range of resources including digital tools, classroom activities, and an interactive map displaying the growing Nature Park across the school estate.

Whether it’s through building rain gardens, growing pollinator-friendly plants, or creating habitats, the Nature Park is inspiring young people to take action to engage with nature in their local area.

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