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Education is the Strongest Tool for Adapting to a Changing Environment

Tackling the climate crisis and achieving the global net zero target will be impossible without leveraging the power of education. Education must play a concrete and crucial role in helping the world avert a climate catastrophe.

These remarks were made by Max McCabe, the Education Outcomes Fund’s (EOF) Chief Operating Officer, as he participated in the first session of the 2021 WISE Summit, titled ‘Learning to Care: Educating for Sustainability.’

In a discussion on the outcomes of current projects with various climate and education leaders, Mr. McCabe told the audience that it was critical to ensure that education was no longer “the neglected child of the climate movement.” To elevate education to its rightful place in the work of the climate movement, we need to focus on three key areas: leveraging its power as a tool for climate literacy, educating for a just transition, and seeing education as the greatest tool for adaptation and resilience.

In particular, Mr. McCabe argued, the focus on climate literacy can serve as a pathway to empower young people to become agents of change. By helping to change individual behaviors, education for climate can therefore support countries to adapt. This approach would then catalyze broader systems change:

“If we properly educate about the climate, then it will change how people consume or stop to consume, who they vote for, or the jobs they take. And this is how we could use education to have a ripple effect both across the decades and across the generations.”

As a tool for creating a just transition, education will play a vital role in helping to create the green skills that are needed to deliver on ambitious climate policies today, and to enable workers to adjust to more sustainable forms of employment in the future as carbon-intensive industries decline.

Closing with a focus on the role of education as a tool for adaptation and resilience, Mr. McCabe highlighted the stark gender imbalance in the current projections of the impact of the climate crisis, telling the panel that “if just 70% of girls finished secondary school, there'll be a 60% reduction in deaths from extreme weather events.”

Watch the full session here:


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