Climate-induced disasters are increasing in severity and occurring almost five times as frequently as 40 years ago, disrupting the education of 40 million children a year, predominantly in low and lower middle-income countries.
Climate and environmental change exacerbates poverty and inequality and drives conflict for increasingly scarce natural resources, according to the The Position Paper by the United Kingdom Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).
The Position Paper calls for continued support to ‘strengthen Education Cannot Wait’s role in ensuring continuity of education for all in the face of increasing extreme weather events and emergencies.’
It said that even when children stay in school, climate and environmental changes such as rising temperatures affect their ability to learn. These negative impacts on learning exacerbate cycles of poverty and inequality and drives conflict for increasingly scarce natural resources.
“Education is an assumed, but hugely undervalued, component of responses to climate change impacts, and efforts to mitigate and adapt to them. It is essential for reducing vulnerability, improving communities’ resilience and adaptive capacity, identifying innovations, and for empowering individuals to be part of the solution to climate and environmental change,” according to the Position Paper.
Nevertheless, “too often climate and environmental change is viewed in isolation from education,” according to the paper. “If we want to effectively tackle these priority issues, we must better understand how they are linked and find integrated solutions.”
“Education must be put front and centre of the climate agenda. By investing in girls’ education in places like Pakistan, the Horn of Africa and other countries on the frontlines of the climate crisis, we are investing in an end to hunger, and vicious cycles of displacement and violence. Education is also the single most powerful investment we can make to ensure a climate-resilient future for generations to come. As one of Education Cannot Wait’s founders and top-contributors, I am deeply grateful to the United Kingdom for the continued and bold support,” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait.
The FCDO Position Paper calls for a paradigm shift in how education is viewed in relation to the climate crisis.
The value of investing in girls’ education is a key component of this paradigm shift. “Girls’ education is a human right and a game changer for driving poverty reduction, and building prosperous, resilient economies and peaceful, stable societies. It has huge, undervalued, potential to contribute to tackling climate and environmental change. Girls’ secondary education has been identified as the most important socio-economic determinant in reducing vulnerability to climate change.”