Youth in developing countries are more affected by climate change and its negative consequences than those in developed countries. Unusual weather events, high temperatures, scarcity of water resources, unhygienic conditions, unfavourable circumstances in the agriculture and food sector, and internal conflicts to shape the situation of natural resources affect the health and well-being of all generations, especially the younger ones. Moreover, the security of the people is also threatened. Migration and conflicts as a result of instabilities in the climate are coming out day by day.
In this regard, the importance of education and training to address climate change and solve problems concerning the adverse outcomes of global warming is recognised by the international community. As underlined by UNESCO, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Paris Agreement, and the associated Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) agenda called on governments to educate, empower and engage all stakeholders and significant parties about policies and actions related to climate change.
The Dynamics of Climate Education
Even the most basic training that can be given should include the following criteria:
To convey the fundamental and physical concepts of climate change.
To ensure that individuals understand the importance of taking action together by drawing attention to their role in climate change since the Industrial Revolution.
To lay the groundwork for triggering a behavioural change in society by revealing the need for an ‘’emergency’’ due to the ‘’crisis’’ nature of the current situation.
To initiate the climate crisis mobilisation.
To provide individuals and institutions with options and examples of what they can do in the fight against the climate crisis.
The Power of Gen-Zs
Generation Z makes up 26% of the global population. According to the research conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2021, Gen-Z, which stands out with its sensitivity to climate and social justice, has the potential to shape the future as well as the present. For example, research shows that while 37% of the USA states climate change is their top concern, this rate is 76% for Generation Z.
In their use of social media, Gen Z is undoubtedly more active in interacting with content on climate change and social justice. According to the 2021 trends research on Instagram with YPulse, 52% of young people (especially Gen Z and Millenials) follow social justice accounts. Moreover, when young social media users see content about climate change, they are more motivated to deal with the issue. However, this rate is lower in older groups. In fact, it’s a common reaction among older users to be annoyed that too much attention is being drawn to climate change.
In addition to all of these, younger generations face ‘’eco/climate anxiety’’ more than the older generations since their social media feed and websites provide a continuous stream of news consisting of climate change and injustice, social problems and human rights issues. Regarding this, they are trying to find solutions by raising their voices, changing their diets due to the carbon emission, thrifting and preferring second-hand etc. Yet, the actions are eclectic because of their nature (since they are made individually). Therefore, at this point, proper climate education is necessary in order to raise awareness in such a way as to produce solutions en masse.
The Case of Argentina
Needless to say, Argentina has a history of strong environmental protections, rules of law and policies, and concern that highlights the operational purpose of environmental education initiatives. In addition, since the country is home to various valuable natural resources, the environment and factors related to the environment have always played a considerable part in Argentinian culture and policymaking. Consequently, environmental problems are intertwined with other issues in the field of history, economics and education.
The importance of environmental education is considerably signified in the Argentinian Constitution: Article 41 of the Argentinian Constitution specifies that ‘’The authorities will provide for the protection of this right [healthy environment], the rational use of natural resources, the preservation of natural and cultural heritage and biological diversity, and environmental information and education.’’
Moreover, the National Education Act states in its 89th article that “The Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology, in agreement with the Federal Council of Education, will arrange the necessary measures to provide environmental education at all the levels and modalities of the National Educational System.” Accordingly, the Argentinian legislation declares the importance of environmental education about the success of the environmental policy that the government is executing.
In 2021, the Argentinian Parliament approved a National Law for Comprehensive Environmental Education. Following this, in April 2021, a proposed law was drafted in Argentina. The law requires comprehensive environmental education to be taught in every school (both private and public schools) and to all age levels (since it is crucial to educate children from the very early phase of their development). Before this, environmental problems (therefore climate change) were taught in topics and subjects such as technology and social sciences.
Additionally, some programs are reserved for the capacity building of environmental instructors and professionals who can pursue further training by participating in events and occasions, such as the Environmental Training and Education Program by the Government of Córdoba or the courses offered by Fundación Vida Silvestre.
An Argentinian Young Climate Activist based in Lund, Sweden
‘’This law is going to unify the knowledge and topic they teach in schools. Until now, there was a personal interest from the teachers to teach these topics to their students. Not all the professors had the chance, the interest, or the resources to teach something outside the syllabus or program. In some schools, the kids do not have the proper heating or conditions to study. Therefore, you cannot ask for more than the basics there. However, if this comes from the government, it is more straightforward because they usually provide guidance to teachers.’’
Florencia Linarez on the National Law of Comprehensive Environmental Education in 2021, approved by Congreso de la Nación Argentina
(The Congress of the Argentine Nation)
Florencia Linarez is an Argentinian young climate activist based in Lund, Sweden, since she is a Master’s Student in the Department of Environmental Management and Policy at Lund University. She holds BA in International Relations from Universidad Empresarial 'Siglo 21'.
She is interested in the areas of sustainable development, environmental management, and the relationship between women and climate change. She writes articles in both English and Spanish to raise awareness concerning the effects of climate change. Florencia also creates videos and social media content to reach not only Generation Z activists but also all generations in order to build a community with sustainable awareness.
Florencia was selected as one of the 2022 Max Thabiso Edkins Climate Ambassadors (launched by the World Bank Group). In addition, she was a ‘’Web Editor and Social Media Intern in Spanish’’ for the UNDP. She also runs a Medium blog in both English and Spanish.
You can read our interview with Florencia, available here.
Demands for environmental education are about building a clean and healthy planet for future generations and broadcasting climate literacy so that these generations can continue to protect the Planet Earth. Climate literacy is also crucial to protect the Earth, just like the natural and technological solutions for global warming. Without ignoring the potential of Gen-Z, it is not only not just the job of educators and the school to educate the pupils on every aspect (and consequences) of the climate crisis. Parents and even grandparents (although they may be less sensitive to this issue compared to Gen-Z and millennials) also have a great responsibility to instil climate awareness in their children/grandchildren. Creating awareness around the world, of course, is not a step that can be achieved by achieving success in a single generation. Therefore, governments need to promote climate education and regulate their environmental protection constitutions (like in the case of Argentina) by collaborating with international and non-governmental organisations working in this field. Once and for all, it should be remembered that it is essential for all humanity to do their part.