04 December 2023, Dubai, UAE - While it has been clear for some time that climate change education is one of the most fundamental unmet needs of countries bearing the brunt of the crisis, it has proved difficult to unlock to necessary resources to meet that need at scale. For several years the UN CC:Learn programme (supported by Switzerland) has been working in West Africa to better understand the gap and to build a regional approach to strengthening climate literacy at all levels (formal, non-formal, and informal).
On 4th December 2023 at COP28 the first 4 West African Environment Ministers met in the margins of the negotiations, under the auspices of the Ministry of Education of the United Arab Emirates, and signed a Regional Declaration on Climate Change Education. The force of that meeting and those initial signatures, including Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal and Togo followed by Guinee on 6 December, has energised a process that will see all 13 Member States of the Comité Permanent Inter-Etats de Lutte contre la Sécheresse dans le Sahel (CILSS) signing the declaration in the coming months.
Beyond this, it is expected that other West African nations will also provide their support together with significant regional institutions. The Declaration states that its signatories will ‘increase efforts to significantly raise the level of funding for climate change education in West Africa by mobilising national budgetary resources and based on multiple sources (international public and private)’.
The Declaration will, at the same time, pave the way for important discussions to be held with development partners to bring the support that the region needs to build climate change literacy at scale. As recently set out in a UNDP-UNITAR article on climate education :
“Small investments in planning for climate education can unlock much larger financing. For example, the Dominican Republic was one of the first countries to receive a UN CC:Learn grant back in 2012 which it used to leverage millions of dollars of public money to train primary school teachers across the country. More recently Zambia has been successful in leveraging a major IKI grant (17 million Euro) for climate education based on a UN CC:Learn grant of $100,000 in 2018.” – UNITAR and UNDP