New publication – Ensuring a Climate Resilient Future: The Power of School-led Adaptation

T he power of education in building the capacities of younger generations in Africa and globally for a climate resilient future has been reiterated in a recent publication jointly developed by the Global Center on Adaptation (GCA), the Centre for Environment Education (CEE), and the Foundation for Environment Education (FEE). The publication, “Case Studies on Adaptation and Climate Resilience in Schools and Educational Settings,” which was launched on 4th May, highlights that education encourages people to change their attitudes and behavior, and enables them to be part of the solutions, while also empowering them to make informed decisions. 

The publication compiles 15 case studies from 12 different countries across four continents with a focus on Africa and covers a range of sectors including agriculture, biodiversity, disaster risk reduction, forestry and water management. 

Showcased case studies include innovative initiatives such as rainwater harvesting for water security and to teach adaptation skills to students in drought stricken Nairobi, Kenya and the Seychelles Islands. An Education for Locally-led Adaptation project is empowering students with conservation skills to protect the endangered forest of Mkingu Nature Reserve in Tanzania. And in Tivat, Montenegro, an area plagued by drought and frequent forest fires, students from a school surrounded by forest have created handouts and interact with visitors to create awareness and prevent forest fires. The school runs awareness-raising workshops for students and community members to learn about climate impacts and how to address them.  

Educational institutions can play an instrumental role in local level climate adaptation and resilience building by helping young people to understand the impact of global warming and learn how to adapt to climate change, and can motivate young people to take action.

This is achievable through the creation of spaces for peer learning, innovative ideas, community awareness to implement practical solutions. Sharing knowledge, best practices and concrete experiences on how to engage younger generations in climate adaptation is fundamental to scale up action.

According to Adriana Valenzuela, GCA’s Youth Leadership Program Lead, the publication aims to guide and promote school-led climate adaptation action and resilience building in Africa and on a global scale. She said, “teachers, children and young people exhibit some of the greatest potential to lead the way as ambassadors of climate change adaptation and we must make sure they have every opportunity to do this. We hope that these case studies will inspire many schools, students, educators and communities, to take on similar projects, whose benefits will cascade from the students and their schools, to their communities, to the world.” 

How can Schools engage in Climate Adaptation?

As the report points out, several factors must be addressed for schools and educational institutions to engage in adaptation action. 

  • Capacity building: Schools require capacity building, guidance resources and adaptation awareness to enable staff and students to launch lasting adaptation initiatives. This would help schools focus on adaptation and resilience actions, which are often considered less of a priority than mitigation action.  
  • Partnership: Partnership with the local community in the design and implementation of adaptation projects is critical to good outcomes. Low-income communities have a lot to gain from adaptation projects that not only increase their adaptive capacity, but also reap economic benefits.
  • Nature-based Solutions: Educators and students can seek Nature-based solutions, such as the beehive initiative, to adapt to climate change. Nature-based Solutions help young people experience nature first-hand, which helps them value it more and grow more connected to it. 
  • Funding: The implementation of school-led adaptation requires funding and financial support. This is not often available to most educational institutions, therefore, collaboration among various stakeholders is of critical importance to support the implementation of long-term adaptation projects. 
  • Intergenerational dialogue: Experts from the community can also spark intergenerational dialogue and share local traditional knowledge that can help build resilience to climate change and be passed on to younger generations.  

For more inspiration, recommendations and guidance on how to organize a school-led adaptation project, please consult the publication “Case Studies on Adaptation and Climate Resilience in Schools and Educational Settings.”

Featured Case Study: Reconnecting with Nature through Rain Water Harvesting.

The Seychelles, an island archipelago off the coast of East Africa, is particularly vulnerable to climate change challenges such as sea level rise, temperature increase, and changes in rainfall patterns.  These impacts have led to water scarcity, which is further compounded by increased demand for water due to economic and social development and population growth.

The Schools Rainwater Harvesting Project was launched in 2010 in seven schools to harvest rainwater from the roof of the schools and educate the students and local communities about climate impacts and how rainwater harvesting is a form of adaptation to water scarcity.

Participating schools collect and store over 2,000 liters of rainwater – a key water source – especially during water stress conditions. The project provides significant savings to schools by reducing their monthly water bills. Several schools recovered the installation cost from the accrued savings in the first year.

Capacity building activities and educational resources for students, teachers and parents were developed on climate change, reducing water consumption, and rainwater harvesting to develop a sense of ownership and ensure effective participation throughout the process.

The harvested rainwater is used in school gardening, irrigation, and for personal hygiene. Local organizations used project schools as demonstration centers, and the project soon moved from schools to communities. Its success has created opportunities for other climate change adaptation initiatives and the rainwater harvesting system is now integrated at the design stage when building new schools and is also being replicated by other schools and communities. This initiative is an example of climate adaptation in action and it is one of 15 case studies featured in GCA’s newly launched Case Studies on Adaptation and Climate Resilience in Schools and Educational Settings.

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