How to Promote Environmental Education in Academia?
Environmental Education
Myriam Bonami Hunter

Fostering Sustainable Thinking

Promoting climate education effectively requires a multi-faceted approach that engages students, educators and the community at large. In my experience as a Senior Global Education Programs and Climate Education specialist for youth, I’ve found that integrating environmental concepts into the curriculum ensures students have consistent exposure across subjects: Climate Literacy Workshops; Work-integrated learning; Global Competitions; Climate Education Gaming; Immersion in a concrete Sustainable Project: Externships make the information tangible and memorable.

Indeed, organizing hackathons and innovation challenges encourages students to develop real-world solutions collaboratively, fostering creativity and critical thinking. To foster a sustainable learning experience, I build partnerships with stakeholders, including local businesses, government agencies and NGOs, to enhance the reach and impact of these programs, providing valuable internships, mentorship, and project opportunities. But also, designed ad-hoc projects focused on UN SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) have given students a clear framework for addressing global challenges, motivating them by showing the direct impact of their work.

I encourage sustainable social innovation and entrepreneurship allowing students to take ownership of their learning, while continuous mentorship and support nurture their interests and abilities.

Through my work in implementing these strategies, from climate literacy training to organizing hackathons and leading mentorship programs, I have seen firsthand the transformative power they have in cultivating environmentally conscious youth.

Leveraging technology and digital platforms, such as online courses and virtual reality experiences, further enhances the learning experience, and engaging the wider community through projects and campaigns fosters a sense of collective responsibility, and measuring and celebrating success motivates further efforts.

Globally, climate education has become a pivotal aspect of educational systems, driven by international frameworks and commitments such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly Goal 13, which focuses on climate action. Many countries are integrating climate education into their national curricula across various subjects. For example, Finland and Costa Rica are leaders in this area, with comprehensive climate education embedded across multiple subjects. Effective climate education requires well-trained educators who are knowledgeable about climate science and pedagogical methods for teaching complex issues.

Programs like UNESCO’s Climate Change Education for Sustainable Development (CCESD) offer resources and training for teachers globally. Hands-on learning experiences such as field trips, climate action projects and participation in environmental clubs help students understand climate issues in a practical context. These activities are often supported by NGOs and international organizations.

But also, International networks like the Global Environmental Education Partnership (GEEP) and initiatives such as the UN’s Youth Climate Summit foster collaboration and knowledge exchange among educators, students and policymakers worldwide.

The use of digital tools, online courses, interactive platforms, and climate literacy training like PRME (Principles for Responsible Management Education), Sustain Academy and EdX has expanded access to high-quality climate education resources. These platforms offer courses on climate science, policy and sustainability practices, making education accessible to a global audience.

The MENA region faces unique challenges related to climate change, including water scarcity, extreme heat and political instability, which necessitate tailored climate education strategies.

Despite these challenges, there are significant efforts to promote climate education in the region. Countries in the MENA region are increasingly incorporating climate change topics into their educational curricula. For example, the United Arab Emirates has integrated sustainability and environmental education into its national curriculum, emphasizing the importance of renewable energy and conservation.

Initiatives such as the Arab Youth Climate Movement and regional conferences like the MENA Climate Week provide platforms for youth engagement and education on climate issues. These events offer opportunities for young people to learn from experts, participate in workshops and collaborate on climate action projects.

Indeed, universities in the MENA region are expanding their offerings in environmental science and sustainability. Institutions like Zayed University, SEE, Institute Hub of Sustainable Education and Research, and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology offer specialized programs and research opportunities focused on climate change and sustainability.

NGOs play a crucial role in promoting climate education in the MENA region. Organizations like Greenpeace MENA and the Emirates Environmental Group conduct educational campaigns, workshops and community outreach programs to raise awareness and engage the public in climate action. Governments and organizations in the MENA region are investing in public awareness campaigns to educate citizens about climate change. For instance, Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 includes a robust public awareness strategy on environmental sustainability, targeting a reach of 10 million people by 2030.

As climate change becomes a central issue globally, there is a growing demand for professionals with skills in sustainability. For the youth generation, acquiring these skills can enhance employability and open up diverse career opportunities. Key employability skills in sustainability include environmental literacy, technical skills, project management, critical thinking and problem-solving, communication and advocacy, collaboration and teamwork, and an entrepreneurial mindset. Understanding the science of climate change, environmental laws and policies, and sustainable practices is fundamental. This knowledge enables young professionals to develop and implement effective sustainability strategies in various sectors. But also, proficiency in technologies related to renewable energy, waste management and sustainable agriculture is increasingly valuable. Skills in data analysis, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and environmental impact assessment are also in high demand.

According to the World Economic Forum, jobs in the green economy are projected to grow by 24 million globally by 2030, highlighting the need for environmental literacy. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) estimates that the renewable energy sector alone will employ 42 million people worldwide by 2050. Programs like PMI’s Green Project Management certification and UN initiatives supporting youth entrepreneurship in green sectors are crucial.

My experience in implementing climate literacy workshops, organizing hackathons and leading mentorship programs demonstrates the transformative power of these approaches in cultivating environmentally conscious youth and preparing them for careers in sustainability.

Overall, effective project management skills including planning, execution and evaluation, are essential for implementing sustainability initiatives. Youth should be trained in using project management tools and methodologies tailored to environmental projects. The ability to analyze complex environmental problems and develop innovative solutions is crucial. I truly encourage youth to participate in hackathons, innovation challenges and research projects that can help hone these skills. Although, strong communication skills are necessary for advocating sustainability initiatives, educating communities and influencing policy.

Nowadays, Youth should be proficient in public speaking, writing and using social media to raise awareness and drive change. Sustainability efforts often require collaboration across disciplines and sectors. Youth should be trained in teamwork and leadership skills to work effectively in diverse groups and lead sustainability projects. I encourage an entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial approach that can drive the development of green businesses and innovative solutions to environmental problems.

In sum, Youth should be supported in developing business acumen and creative thinking skills within immersion events and consulting projects.

  • Article Credits: Myriam Bonami Hunter | Founder & CEO, MBH Upskilling | Senior Education Specialist | Digital Marketing Executive

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