Learnings from COP27: Education as a tool of innovation for the climate change generation

Source– The post is based on the article “Learnings from COP27: Education as a tool of innovation for the climate change generation” published in The Indian Express on 30 November 2022.

Syllabus: GS3- Environment

Relevance– Climate change

News– The article explains the need for education to fight climate change.

What is contained in India Long-Term Low Emissions and Development Strategies (LT-LEDS)?

It outlines priorities for carbon-intensive sectors like electricity and industry and transport. There is emphasis on the role of a Lifestyle for Environment (LiFE) as a mass movement towards sustainable consumption and production.

What are the challenges faced by the education sector in India?

First, school closures during the pandemic have led to a learning deficit. This will likely impact productivity and per capita income levels in the long term.

According to a paper by the OECD, one year of school closures could reduce GDP levels by anywhere from 1.1 to 4.7 per cent by mid-century.

Second, climate impacts are already disrupting children’s learning and well-being globally. For instance, extreme heat reduces students’ learning levels and causes physiological harm. Children’s health is affected due to persistently poor air quality in cities like Delhi. Floods are permanently displacing families. It is leading to children dropping out of schools and being trafficked.

Third, the lived experiences of climate-induced disasters and anxiety about the future are causing despair and dread among young people.

How education system can be leveraged to avert climate crisis?

At a national level, there is a need for strong enabling framework for a climate-resilient education system. It could cover matters from curricula to nutrition to school building codes in a climate-changed world. India should create this framework through a consultative exercise with educators, students, and experts.

Design and implementation in states and districts should be shaped by existing local needs and anticipated climate risks. Across the board, children should be able to access clean water and nutritious food. Students’ mental health needs should be served through an emphasis on social and emotional learning.

Curricula can be infused with scientific and technical know-how alongside indigenous and local knowledge. In pockets, there are already innovative initiatives under-way where non-government organisations are doing close work with communities. The example is the buffer zone of Kanha National Park where Baiga and Gond students are learning about the potential of integrating biodiversity conservation with regenerative agriculture.

We should foster critical thinking instead of rote learning. While we must strive for abundance and equity, societies and individuals will likely need to negotiate scarcity and trade-offs.

We can’t afford to be narrowly focusing on technical training for the innovation, research, and development of climate technologies. Rather, we should develop strong analytical capabilities and holistic thinking about societal transformations and how new technologies will be embedded in communities.

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