Climate Education: key approach to raise awareness and shift behaviours towards more sustainable ones

Gabriela Henriques

YPP Program Manager, Global Compact Network Netherlands

Gabi Aubin

Global Goals Project Manager, Global Compact Network Netherlands

Climate education has increasingly been adopted as a key tool to combat climate change. In the Netherlands, the first national environmental education policy was launched in 1988. The focus remains on educating children and the younger generation on the causes and consequences of climate change to raise their awareness and change attitudes and behaviours towards more sustainable ones.

We do not stop learning when we leave school or university. Education is a continuous journey, and climate education needs to remain a part of that. It can start young by reading age appropriate storybooks to our children, increasingly incorporating it into school syllabi and engaging in dialogue with teachers and professors.

Despite these proactive approaches to increase younger people’s climate literacy, one can argue that this approach is not enough. It highlights a need to raise (all) citizens’ climate literacy and particularly businesses’ climate literacy.

As businesses become increasingly conscious of their environmental impacts, advancing this awareness and promoting the adoption of more sustainable practices and the integration of SDGs into businesses strategy is both crucial and has proven to be profitable in the long-run if executed correctly. Global Compact Network Netherlands aims to advance this awareness and business shift into more sustainable practices. As stated, learning never stops and at Global Compact Network Netherlands, we support this ambition by providing several resources, programmes, such as the Young Professionals Program, and engagement opportunities to learn more about the climate and how to implement sustainable practices.

One can complete courses such as How to Account for your Scope 1, 2 and 3 Emissions, How to Set a Science-Based Target and Delivering on Net-Positive Water Impact for Growth and Resilience amongst many more to deepen your climate knowledge and sharpen your climate education toolkit.

If we are to remain within the target 1,5℃, this will become increasingly important as current and future business leaders need to be equipped with the knowledge and ambition to be the change makers that are so needed in today’s society.

Although awareness of climate change and environmental degradation is crucial, it has also brought about a significant phenomena that has been termed ‘eco-anxiety’ or ‘climate anxiety’. A global study recently showed that approximately 80% of young people are worried about climate change, and 59% are extremely worried. Climate anxiety is a practical anxiety that connects to emotions such as worry, fear, despair, grief and hope. Whilst raising awareness through education is important, climate anxiety also reinforces the need for citizens, businesses and government to be equipped with the practical knowledge and tools to be able to take action and turn despair into hope and change.