Dr Aziza Zaher and Hannah Fishburn have written this blog post as part of our COP27 campaign. Visit our COP27 webpages to find out how other colleagues are supporting our work towards a more sustainable future.
In preparation for COP26, Durham University, OASES and Durham County Council started an initiative to inspire climate action among school children. This year, ahead of COP27, the new resources have been translated into Arabic to allow their use in more diverse contexts. Aziza Zaher from Durham University and Hannah Fishburn from OASES write about the resources and how they are being used by schools around the world, including in Egypt where COP27 was held.
Children around the world are receiving different levels of climate education in line with the different curricula of their countries; the hosting of COP27 in Egypt, a country that faces serious environmental challenges, comes with a call for climate action which requires better climate education. Although Egyptian Law stipulates that environmental education is necessary for all and the Ministry of Education tries to achieve this, there is a lot more that needs to be done. There is not enough emphasis on environmental issues in formal curricula; schools in Egypt are not concerned with reducing their carbon footprint; environmental education is not embedded in educational planning; and schools are not empowered to take part in climate action. Meanwhile, Egypt faces severe challenges, e.g., water scarcity, food crisis, pollution, among others – these problems disproportionately affect the poorest and the most vulnerable segments of society. In response to all these unprecedented challenges, environmental education and climate action must become a priority for the country and its citizens, particularly the new generations who need to understand climate change, know about the solutions, and be inspired to take action.
In response to the varying picture of climate education around the world, through the ECO2 Smart Schools programme, OASES, Durham University and Durham County Council created the ECO2 COP Climate Conference. Through this initiative, schools receive high quality, adaptable resources to help them engage their students in climate change issues and empower them to take climate action.
Last year, ahead of COP26 in Glasgow, UK, the ECO2 COP26 Climate Conference took place. The resources were translated by Durham University into key European languages such as French, German and Spanish.
This year, ahead of COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, the ECO2 COP27 Climate Conference took place, with over 100 schools in 9 countries, such as the UK, Egypt, Romania, India and Hungary, taking part. The resources were translated into Arabic by Durham University, allowing more students from schools around the world to access the resources and be inspired to take climate action. Through lessons on climate losses, climate solutions and climate hopes, schools were encouraged to share with each other, providing insight into the impact of climate change in other countries and inspiration for climate action. After completing the lessons, schools took part in a live, online conference. During the conference, students were able to share their thoughts, feelings and experiences of climate change with each other and ask their climate questions to a panel of experts from Durham University and Durham County Council.
My students benefitted greatly from being part of the ECO2 COP27 Climate Conference.Head Teacher, School in Egypt
The resources were well received by schools in Egypt and students engaged with the activities, actively thinking about ways they could make a difference to the local communities, such as how to preserve the ecosystem in the Red Sea in Hurghada.
To further the legacy of the conference, we hope to reach more governmental schools in Egypt and in the other Arab countries, providing free access to the resources to inspire and engage their pupils to take climate action, especially after Egypt shared plans to incorporate climate change more into the national curriculum at COP27. The resources can be downloaded and shared in Arabic and English from the ECO2 Smart Schools website.
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