Climate action education: a global view of challenges and best practice 

Research partnership: Shift Sustainability, Take Action Global and EARTHDAY.ORG

COP26 was a landmark moment for the promotion of climate action through education – setting the stage for the first discussion between environmental ministers and educators from around the world, with this dialogue continuing at COP27. Educators and other stakeholders in young people’s futures have continued to mobilise and promote education’s vital role as a climate change solution – working with and for young people towards a sustainable future.

In autumn 2022, we partnered with Take Action Global and EARTHDAY.ORG to research the role of climate educators around the world – the challenges faced, how they overcome them, what approaches are working and what else is needed to ensure effective climate action education.

Climate action education in Cambodia

Photo courtesy of Take Action Global educators in Cambodia

Asking the experts

In-depth interviews with 14 climate change educators and experts from 10 countries informed the design of a global survey conducted in October 2022, which returned 1,012 useable responses from 38 countries. Survey respondents included classroom teachers, department heads, principals and librarians, as well as those working in educator roles in wider organisations, including nature centres and government departments around the world.

Key themes and findings

The white paper outlines the findings within 5 key themes:

  1. Inconsistent climate education terminology creates barriers to collaboration.
  2. Where teachers have control, they can overcome challenges – but they need more help to go further.
  3. Educators need more support from local and national policymakers.
  4. Innovative approaches are needed to motivate students and young people.
  5. Parents and the wider community play a key supporting role.

Key findings included that:

  • Teachers want cross-curriculum projects with real-life impact that allow climate action to be present in students’ everyday lives.
  • The research uncovered perceptions of a significant disconnect between teachers and educational leadership in the work of taking action around climate change, with classroom teachers leading the charge in climate action education.
  • 71% of the sample wanted to see more promotion of climate education on a national level, only 5% believed that support from their government was currently effective.

Further findings relating to these themes will be shared by the partners throughout the year.

If you are interested in how this research was conducted, you can download the technical report.

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We are passionate about sustainability, education and how they work together for a better world, so would love to hear about any research projects we could help with.