Paris is the venue for climate talks and at the centre of the world's attention again - a month after terror attacks. Photo: Wikipedia/CC

Community education highlighted at Paris climate summit

Interview. For ICAE President Sandy Morrison Paris climate summit felt like a defining moment of our generation. Sustainability and community education were the educational foci of the event.


The Paris climate summit ends today on Friday, 11th of December, after two weeks of negotiations. The goal of the conference: to reach agreement, among some 190 nations, over a new global agreement on greenhouse gas emissions to stop climate change.

At the time of writing (10th December), a coalition of over 100 countries, including the US and the EU, were pushing for a binding deal including stopping temperature rise to 1,5 degrees (as opposed to the long-term goal of 2 degrees), a roadmap for a low-carbon future, and support for developing countries. Big polluters China and India have not joined the coalition.

Photo: Sandy Morrison’s archive.

Sandy Morrison, President of the International Council for Adult Education (ICAE), was present in Paris at UNESCO’s International Seminar on Climate Change Education. The seminar was UNESCO’s flagship contribution to the climate summit and focused on mobilizing schools for climate action.

Elm: Ms Morrison, how was the atmosphere in Paris?

Sandy Morrison: The city was buzzing with events being constantly reported on, and many activities occurring. It even seemed to overtake Christmas. Personally I felt part of a movement greater than myself. It felt powerful knowing that we were all making our contribution to the future. Every generation has its contribution to make and this was mine.

Elm: What is the significance of the Paris summit from an education perspective?

Sandy Morrison: The summit presented another opportunity to highlight and remind people of the value of education to address climate change, education for sustainable development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s).

It is also important in all fora to highlight adult and community education. On Friday 4th December, an “Education Day” was arranged at the summit. Many activities were set aside to highlight the value and practises of education. While many other issues surrounding the summit and Government commitments are still being debated, in my estimate there seemed to be widespread agreement of the value that education brings.

Elm: What goals did ICAE have for the Paris summit?

Sandy Morrison: We advocate for adult education within the broader agenda of lifelong learning. I give you an example. The UNESCO seminar I attended discussed many school projects that have partnerships with community groups. Climate change education is more successful when adults and community learning is being incorporated into the classrooms. Local knowledge and family knowledge brings a reality check to the classrooms and any climate change education must reflect the realities of the communities to be successful. That way education is seamless.

It was important for adult education to have visibility in a primary education context and through my presence we were able to achieve that.

In sum, the Paris summit was an opportunity to network with outstanding people.  You could get a real sense of what people were doing in their countries and in their schools to address climate change education. So I listened and observed and nurtured relationships!


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