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Earlier this month, together with the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and Concern Worldwide, we gathered high-level actors across government, academia, unions, NGO’s and multilaterals for a transformative discussion on the education-climate nexus. We had a fantastic turnout, setting the stage for forging new pathways of collaborative action. Here’s a recap of the key moments and insights that emerged from this groundbreaking discussion.

Conversation stimulated a vital debate on the connections between the two issues, with a focus on the mitigation potential brought about by a quality, inclusive education for all.

GPE’s Karen Schroh, Director of External Relations and EU Representative opened the roundtable discussion, emphasising that investing in education is the missing link to tackling climate change. She highlighted how education saves lives today and educates the leaders of tomorrow. Yet only 2.4% of climate finance responds to child-related needs and, within that amount, education-specific projects are negligible. She called for transforming education systems at scale.

Concern Worldwide’s Connell Foley, Director of Strategy, Advocacy and Learning, provided an overview of the interconnection of climate change and education from a humanitarian’s perspective. He emphasised that education needs a prominent voice in climate change policy discussions, as climate change drives displacements and disrupts livelihoods, severely impacting children’s learning. Simultaneously, he highlighted that investing in education reduces vulnerability to climate change, enhances adaptive capabilities, and boosts problem-solving capacities.

Sinead Walsh Deputy Director-General in the Development Cooperation and Africa Division at Irish Aid, provided valuable insights on Irish Aid’s engagement in climate action. Particularly notable is Irish Aid’s ambition to integrate education into these efforts and the commitment to climate-proofing all of Irish Aid’s work, including the investment made in education.

TD Marc Ó Cathasaigh spoke of the importance of delivering meaningful and self-empowered climate education both domestically and globally, underscoring the significance of addressing the Education-Climate nexus.

Participating representatives of academia and civil society, including from DCU, Dóchas, the Irish Environmental Network and others highlighted several key points:

  • The challenges climate change presents to education in development and aid work, emphasizing the need for collective action.
  • The necessity of policy coherence across intersecting issues to effectively address the climate change and education nexus.
  • On-the-ground concerns about the impact of climate change on education delivery, and the importance of advancing systems-thinking and critical thinking skills within climate change education.
  • The imperative for justice-driven climate education in both domestic and global efforts.

The debate was timely, marking the midpoint between COP 28 and COP 29 and riding the wave of the groundbreaking declaration on the common agenda for education and climate change, launched with 40 founding member states at COP28. There is now keen anticipation for Ireland to sign this milestone declaration.

We hope this marks the beginning of a deeper exploration into leveraging the role of learning and the importance of education financing to unlock its potential for transformative, long-term change, particularly in the context of climate change and action.


About the COP 28 Declaration on the Common Agenda for Education and Climate Change  
Key points
  • Recognises that education systems must urgently adapt; 
  • Emphasises that Education for Sustainable Development as part of SDG 4 on quality provides the knowledge and skills required for a changing world and plays an essential role to powering the shift to climate-resilient societies; 
  • Emphasises the co-benefits of efforts to achieve inclusive quality education for all and advance environmental sustainability must be maximised; 
  • Acknowledges funding gap in climate education and emergency preparedness planning compromising the ability to develop adequate education strategies to tackle the climate emergency; 
  • Recognises existing efforts: Global Partnership for Education, Education Cannot Wait, and the UN-Multi Partner Trust Fund for the Greening Education Partnership; 
  • Strives to drive cohesion, deepening collaboration, and securing tangible commitments on education as a tool to mitigate the climate crisis on a global scale.  
3 Commitment Areas
  1. Adapt, including: 
    1. Build more resilient education systems; 
    2. Emphasize the role of education to adapt to new climate realities and develop innovative solutions. 
  2. Mitigate, including: 
    1. Develop comprehensive education sector strategies to build climate-smart and resilient education systems that prepare all learners to actively engage in climate mitigation; 
    2. Leverage the role of education to achieve net zero emissions in the education sector. 
  3. Invest, including: 
    1. Increased global finance for education including through climate funds and institutions; 
    2. encourage both domestic and international education financing, including through investing in global education funds, partnerships, and innovative financing mechanisms.

Useful links on the topic: