Education and Outreach

The EMME Climate Change Initiative Task Force on Education and Outreach is pursuing work in the following three interconnected complementary areas:

  1. School (preschool, primary and secondary) and informal education about or imbued with issues relating to climate change.
  2. Higher (including post-graduate, continuing and retraining) education for educators, scientists, engineers and other stakeholders who are engaged in climate-related research, policy and outreach activities.
  3. Overall societal information, understanding and engagement on climate change, its consequences, emphasis on anthropogenic causes and their mitigation.

The activity of the Task Force focuses on the understanding of how actions in education and outreach concerning climate change are currently pursued in the countries of this region.  The degree to which regional concerted activities are pursued is thoroughly reviewed and the potential of such collaboration is examined. Formal and informal activities at all educational levels, including early childhood education, preschool, primary and secondary school education, higher, lifelong learning as well as other educational approaches used for Climate Change Education (CCE) are analysed.

A gap analysis is used as the basis for suggestions for research and policy actions that need to be implemented. The report that is expected to emerge, aims to provide an overview of the role that CCE has at a regional level and propose policy guidelines and recommendations that support and provide the framework to the countries of the region to work based on their national contexts with emphasis on regional cooperation. In addition, this report focuses on understanding the public’s engagement with climate change, its consequences, and its mitigation, aiming to suggest advanced measures for empowering and motivating youth and civil society against it.  Based on this analysis, a set of proposals for national and especially regional actions to address the identified needs will be formulated and presented to policymakers. 

Although based on the findings of the TF so far and in the face of significant advances being made on various fronts towards addressing climate change challenges significant work still needs to be done to achieve the aforementioned goals.

Abstract from the Report of the Task Force on the Education and Outreach

The Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East (EMME) region is a hot-spot of climate change. The urgently needed implementation of mitigation and adaptation measures to address climate change cannot be effective without wide public understanding and support, particularly by the young. Education and public awareness on climate change, conventionally termed “climate change education” (CCE), reaching not only school children but the society at large, is of utmost importance for securing the enabling environment for informing, convincing and involving key policymakers and leaders – while mobilising all stakeholders for the needed transformation. The aim of this work is to identify the trends, commonalities and gaps of CCE in the EMME region and to help the countries of the region to develop synergies and collaborate to accelerate and integrate CCE into their educational policies and systems. Data collected from all countries and relevant stakeholders indicate that progress has been made throughout the region on linking education with the SDGs related to climate change in primary and secondary schools. In that progress, however, knowledge and natural science aspects have prevailed over critical thinking and problem-solving elements. In higher education, a similarly strengthened focus on climate change is evident in under and post-graduate courses, followed by relatively high international rankings on SDG 13/ climate change. Despite progress in training teachers for CCE, gaps persist both in pre-and in-service teacher education. Significant gaps were identified in professional development opportunities. Similarly, in vocational education and training, CCE needs to be further developed to match the rapidly emerging opportunities for green jobs. The goals must be to assure the high-quality skills and knowledge required to support technological and other applications needed to address climate change. Many non-formal and informal educational interventions have been undertaken, mostly by non-state actors supported by national and or regional/international sources. However, the need for outreach to the general public and its mobilisation is enormous, demanding special skills for presenting complex natural phenomena and for balancing the sense of urgency with the empowerment brought by a positive spirit of ownership, solidarity and hope for improvement. Governments, regional organisations and non-governmental and academic organisations have developed valuable teaching tools, including manuals, guides, handbooks and videos on education for sustainable development (ESD) and CCE. The major obstacle in using this material is the language mix in the region and scant access to electronic media. Many educators are not fluent in English or French – the languages in which most of this material is produced – while they also lack information technology skills. Research in CCE, and more generally in ESD, follows two major directions: The first, purely educational, is based on pedagogies, methodologies, and other approaches that enhance the effectiveness of educational interventions. The second, based primarily on natural science, is related to climate change and its impacts, complemented by analyses in which socio-ecological and cultural dimensions come into play. These are useful for supporting the educational content. Both directions are ideal fields for regional cooperation. Furthermore, the present work emphasises that despite the region’s political difficulties, all EMME countries seem keen to identify the best modes of cooperation and effective synergies to address the common challenge of climate change. The last part of the present work suggests the adoption of a vision according to which strong collaboration in CCE could contribute to converting EMME, a turbulent and vulnerable world region, into a pioneering one for ESD and CEE. This vision could be used to stimulate young people, academics and other vital stakeholders as the region moves towards a more secure future. For the next steps ahead, some strategic orientations and options for the facilitation and operationalization of the initiative are proposed.

Task Force

Prof. Michael Scoullos
Dr. Aravella Zachariou

Task Management Board
Aravella Zachariou
Emad Adly

Cyprus Institute Liaison Scientist
Thanasis Hadzilacos

Task Force Members
Ghaida Abbdulkareem Abu-Rumman, Isra University, Jordan
Emad Adly, Arab Network for Environment and Development
Sabah Saleh Aljenaid, Arabian Gulf University
Ali Awadh Al Amoudi, Self-employed
Wijdan Ali Al-Oqab, GCC Emergency Management Centre Safa Ahmad Baydoun, Beirut Arab University
Bernard Combes, UNESCO
Abdoul Wahab Coulibaly, UNESCO
Mona El Zoghbi, UNESCO
Arnault Graves, UfM (Union for the Mediterranean)
Thanasis Hadzilacos, The Cyprus Institute
Imad Hassoun Homsi, Former Deputy Minister of State for Environment Affairs
Alexander Leicht, UNESCO
Vasileios Makrakis, University of Crete
Michael Scoullos, University of Athens
Mohammed Saleem Ali Shtayeh, Biodiversity and Environmental Research Center
Aravella Zachariou, Cyprus Pedagogical Institute