UN initiative aims to help nations sculpt climate change education frameworks
UNITED NATIONS, UNEARTH News — In recent years, global leaders have aimed to integrate education into the international climate change response. In efforts to combat growing trends, an initiative titled the “One United Nations Training Service Platform on Climate Change” or “UN CC:Learn” works to design a framework for country-driven, sustainable climate change learning.
UN CC:Learn was adopted at the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Change Summit as a “collaborative initiative” aimed at both fostering UN collaboration in designing climate change learning projects on the global level and forming collaborative educational projects on the national level. CC:Learn also supports Article 6 of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), on training and education.
Support provided by the Swiss government allowed UN CC:Learn, following its inception in 2010, to develop partnerships with 33 multilateral organizations and to support nationally-driven projects. Organized by the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) as well as other UN agencies, CC:Learn has been piloted in five nations: Dominican Republic, Indonesia, and three African Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Benin, Uganda, and Malawi.
“At the time it became clear that many UN agencies were engaging in climate change capacity development. Countries started to draw attention to the need for taking a strategic approach to climate change,” explains Amrei Horstbrink, Training Associate at UN CC:Learn, to UNEARTH News. “Partners work together both at the national and global levels, with the ultimate objective to support developing countries in creating sustainable human resource capacity to address climate change.”
Through “knowledge management and networking” of UN climate change materials, development of the learning package, and promoting skills development in partner pilot nations, CC:Learn believes that it can disseminate correct information on climate change and expand sustainable learning.
In order to support nations in implementing strategic climate change frameworks, CC:Learn supports domestic pilot projects.
“Since 2011 the UN CC:Learn Secretariat received formal applications/expressions of interest from 23 countries, plus informal inquiries from an additional 16 countries,” Horstbrink tells UNEARTH News.
According to Achim Halpaap, Head of Environment and Associate Director at UNITAR, African countries have shown a tremendous interest in taking a strategic approach to climate change learning, with more than 15 African countries having submitted an application to participate in the UN CC:Learn pilot phase.
“Progress in Benin, Malawi, and Uganda to develop their National Climate Change Learning Strategies has been tremendous,” Halpaap tells UNEARTH News.
The most recent national implementation of UN CC:Learn was in the Central African LDC Uganda, in early 2012. Under the leadership of the Ugandan Ministry of Water and Environment, Ugandan leaders recently created a major first milestone, the “National Strategy to Strengthen Human Resources and Skills to Advance Green, Low Emission and Climate Resilient Development.” The project was launched in June 2013 and aims to strengthen the Ugandan learning system to ensure that Ugandans, especially the youth, become more informed on climate-smart techniques and skills.
Under the leadership of the Malawian Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, and with support of UN CC:Learn and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), Malawi, a southeast African LDC, implemented its UN CC:Learn Project in early 2012 as well. Throughout 2013, Malawian policymakers and educational experts have created a national strategy for climate change learning and have created promotional materials in order to incorporate climate change and sustainable learning into primary school curricula. Malawi is hoping to launch the strategy this coming September.
Similar successes have been reported in West African LDC Benin, where a national strategy was developed under the Ministry of Environment, Housing and Urbanism (MEHU), creating a national coordination framework to strengthen climate change skills development in December 2012.
In all of the nations where pilot projects were implemented, similar national frameworks were implemented and there was an intersection of resources from government workers, private sector employees, and civil society organizations.
According to Horstbrink, in some cases, “UN CC:Learn invested strategically to leverage other existing UN initiatives and create win-win situations.”
For example, Horstbrink explains, with the support of UN CC:Learn, UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) climate change education materials were translated into Spanish and piloted in the Dominican Republic. The materials have been made available by UNESCO to all Spanish-speaking nations.
Other examples of this inter-agency cooperation include UNDP’s role in Benin to organize workshops for the implementation of the National Strategy and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF)’s role in offering technical assistance for the incorporation of climate change into domestic curricula.
In addition, according to Horstbrink, the World Bank has provided “five fellowships” for each pilot country to facilitate e-courses on sustainable learning.
“The 3-year pilot phase of UN CC: Learn which was supported by the Swiss government is ending in December 2013,” Horstbrink tells UNEARTH News. “We are currently exploring opportunities for a second phase, in particular to respond to high demand by countries to implement national UN CC:Learn projects.”
According to Halpaap, in order to sustain the initiative’s momentum, partnerships continue to be important.
“In all countries, the UN CC: Learn initiative has received high level ministerial support from the outset,” Halpaap explains to UNEARTH News. “The challenge now will be to keep the momentum and implement priority learning action through partnerships of national institutions and international development partners.”
For further information on UN CC:Learn and UNITAR’s climate change program, visit this link: http://www.unitar.org/ccp/