Securing prosperous and resilient future for our kids – with our kids
23 Dec 2015 by Natalia Olofinskaya, Regional Technical Specialist – Adaptation to Climate Change, UNDP Istanbul Regional Hub.
The education and empowerment of children is key to ensuring that the world’s development is both low carbon and climate resilient. Since 2003, when we launched the first UNDP-GEF project in Russia focusing on energy efficiency in the educational sector, UNDP has produced a broad array of educational tools that engage primary and secondary schools, universities, off-curricula and professional courses.
As a member of the UNDP-GEF team, I’ve visited numerous school lessons on climate change.
I am always amazed by how inquisitive, engaged and creative the kids are when discussing global environmental challenges like climate change. I’ve spoken with parents who told me how their kids became “impossible" at home—switching off the lights and fixing leaky taps after being taught about the environmental benefits of doing so. Indeed, children who I first met years ago at educational summer camps are now becoming young leaders of environmental NGOs.
For many years and in many countries UNDP has been piloting and promoting educational projects for school children and university students on sustainable development, water stewardship, biodiversity conservation and energy efficiency. During the UNFCCC-led Education Day at this year’s climate conference in Paris, UNDP presented the next step in its educational effort on climate change: The Climate Box, an interactive learning toolkit.
Two years ago I initiated the development of the Climate Box tool-kit. Inspired by the success of our earlier educational projects, I worked with experts in climatology, geography, biology and economics, as well as teachers and professional writers of books for children, to take the most up-to-date scientific knowledge about climate change and present it in attractive, entertaining form via interactive tasks, games, infographics and examples from across the globe.
The Climate Box tells about the changes in the Earth's climate from the earliest geological epochs up to the present and illustrates the impacts these changes have had on both the natural world and people. The box discusses pressing issues including whether we can adapt to the inevitable impacts of climate change, how to prevent further accelerated changes in the global climate, what is already being done in different parts of the world. Infographics, quiz games and posters are used to provide practical tips for reducing one’s carbon footprint.
Earlier this year, the Climate Box was piloted in 157 secondary schools in Moscow and Sochi, Russia’s champion cities in “greening” innovations. Over 11,300 school children have already started using the Climate Box and over 500 teachers have been trained in using it as a pedagogical tool. The Climate Box mobile application will be released very shortly, as will an English-language version.
I sincerely believe that, in order to secure a prosperous and resilient future for our grandchildren, our children should be better than us—in managing conflict, in being tolerant and fair toward each other, in consuming less and sharing more, and in taking good care of our planet. As a mother of a little girl, I notice every day how today’s kids are smarter, faster, more independent and more exposed to information. It is the responsibility of our generation and of our educational systems to help our children become responsible global citizens.