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  • Writer's pictureMinna Allarakhia

Climate Education Series: Climate Change and Human Rights-What We Can Learn from the Sustainable Development Goals

Updated: Jan 15





Climate Education for Students Assignment 2:

In this activity, students will conduct research, to learn about the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, and the link between these goals, human rights, and climate change. The teacher should display the 17 sustainable goals infographic, for students. Students should be placed into groups, and assigned a specific right to assess, that is, human rights that emerge from these 17 sustainable goals. Example suggestions include the right to clean air and water; the right to good health services; the right to eat well; and the right to economic well-being. Students can create a mind map with their assigned right, placed in the middle, and then brainstorm the link to the SDGs, climate change, as well as adaptation strategies, that can ensure these rights are preserved. The mind maps should be displayed for a gallery walk, by class members, and peer classes. Climate education of students is the main objective of these Assignment.


The Launch of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals:

In 2015, 193 countries of the United Nations launched the 17 Sustainable Development Goals to help find solutions for poverty, equality, justice, climate change, and to stop damage to the environment. In this module, we will learn how climate change will affect people globally, and our ability to achieve these goals.


Connecting the SDGs to Climate Change:

Climate change will affect everyone across the globe, but to varied degrees. It is anticipated that the people who will be the most affected by climate change, are those who are already dealing with poverty. The poor are facing a number of challenges, and when you add climate change to the mix, poverty rates will increase drastically with climate related disasters, global warming, and food insecurity. Resource: https://www.nrdc.org/stories/what-are-effects-climate-change


Disasters:

Climate change causes unexpected disasters, that can affect food security. Climate related changes ranging from droughts to floods, can affect our farmers' capacity to grow, and then harvest crops. With changing food supply, and increased demand, food prices will increase, and will lead to food insecurity for the most vulnerable. Also, with the increased warming, acidification of our oceans, and subsequent impact to marine life, those working in the marine industry will be affected, as will be our ability to source food from our oceans.


The Impact to Women:

Around 70% of those who are poor, are women. Unfortunately, poor women are unable to easily voice their concerns, have fewer rights, and may not be able to access resources, including healthcare when needed. As women become displaced by climate related disasters, their ability to get proper healthcare, will be impeded. It is important that women, and our governments, understand how climate change directly affects them, so that the needed support systems are put into place for climate emergencies.


Water Security:

We need to understand how climate change can impact water security. Clean water, and sanitation is vital for good health. As temperatures rise, this can threaten water security, through evaporation and changing rainfall patterns. Temperature changes can also affect the quality of groundwater. As a consequence, the quality and our ability to use groundwater will decline. Flooding can additionally disrupt, or damage our water supply, and infrastructure, as well as bring contaminants into our water supply.


Indoor Air Pollution:

Indoor air pollution is caused by burning dirty fuel including firewood, crop waste, and dung, for cooking and heating. The burning of such fuels, particularly in rural and poor households, results in indoor air pollution. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), between 3.2 and 3.8 million people a year, (particularly women and children under five), die from indoor air pollution. Indoor air pollution causes a number of diseases, including asthma, pneumonia, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and cardiovascular disease (Keegan, BBC, 2020). We need to educate people about the dangers of indoor air pollution, and support the transition to better cookstoves, and cleaner renewable sources of energy. Resource: https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/indoor-air/


Climate Refugees:

Climate related disasters, can cause people to become climate refugees, as they are displaced from their homes and jobs. Without insurance and savings, people will struggle to support their families. Also, we need to educate students, and professionals on how to transition their skill sets, to the green economy, so that everyone can benefit from new, green job opportunities.


Climate change, is likely to be most disruptive to developing countries. We must collaborate with these countries, to discuss climate change and adaptation, and to protect people from the devastating impacts of climate change. This might include sharing ideas and sharing technology, to reduce the impacts, and to transition people to the green economy. Resource: https://www.unep.org/news-and-stories/story/5-ways-countries-can-adapt-climate-crisis


The Role of Entrepreneurs and Business:

Entrepreneurs, including small and medium enterprises, need to be educated on how they can play a role in climate action, including greening their workplaces, and designing greener products, that are of high quality, durable, repairable, reusable, and recyclable.


According to the World Economic Forum: “Conscious consumption is not just about what we wear. It is all encompassing: where we live, how we move, the food and drink we consume, how its ingredients have been grown, processed, and packaged, and what happens to the leftovers when we are done consuming.” Being a responsible consumer, is about making well informed choices, that reflect our values and beliefs about ourselves, other people, and our world. Our choices here and today, can have a positive or negative impact, on all those connected to the products we consume, and on the environment for years to come.


Who is Responsible? Importance of climate education for students.

There is a debate emerging, as to which countries should bear the greater responsibility for climate action. Countries that are in a stronger position, need to lead the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while helping developing countries, to also reduce their emissions. We should work together, and not just blame one another, particularly since the impacts are being felt globally. This is why it is so important to start this work from the classroom and it is our foundation to bet on climate education for students. Resources: https://www.pewresearch.org/global/2015/11/05/2-public-support-for-action-on-climate-change/ https://www.brookings.edu/articles/developing-countries-are-key-to-climate-action/


The Economics:

Many people depend on the oceans for their livelihood, and for their nutritional needs. The warming of our oceans is impacting marine life, as is the increased acidification of the oceans, given that more carbon dioxide is being absorbed at the surface of the ocean, at an increasing rate. By damaging our oceans, and destroying marine ecosystems, we are affecting people economically, impacting food security, affecting our own health and well-being through plastic based waste, that ends up in our food systems, and taking away the ability of future generations to enjoy the wonders of the oceans. Resource: https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/articles/2018/09/24/plastic-pollution-affects-sea-life-throughout-the-ocean


Climate change, is placing tremendous pressure on farmers and our land, through droughts, flooding, and disease. We must learn how to better protect our land from the impact of climate change, and our own agricultural practices. Our land is the source of our food, and by thinking only about the short term, we are reducing the capacity of our land to regenerate and grow the crops we need. Resource: https://www.wri.org/insights/4-ways-farmers-can-adapt-climate-change-and-generate-income


Challenges for our Governments:

Climate change will pose difficulties for governments, and people across the world. When people only think about the short term, or local impacts, governments look for quick solutions that really don't address the underlying problems of our economic systems, and behaviors. Without global cooperation, not only are we making it increasingly unlikely that we can control the rate of global warming, based on previously set limits, but conflicts will arise between people, and governments as they try to cope and survive. Conflict will only add to the financial and socio-economic pressures, people are already facing from natural and human disasters. We can share our knowledge, our technology, and our best practices, to jointly address the challenges of climate change. Today's students will lead and make decisions tomorrow. That is why we must design climate education for students and implement it in each educational space.


Climate Education for Students: Importance of Achieving the SDGs

Education plays a vital role in equipping students with the necessary knowledge and skills to tackle one of the most pressing global challenges: climate change. By providing climate education for students, we empower them to understand the interconnections between environmental, social, and economic factors, and how they relate to the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Climate education enables students to comprehend the impacts of human activities on the environment, encourages sustainable practices, and fosters a sense of responsibility towards the planet. By connecting the SDGs with climate change, students can actively contribute to achieving targets such as climate action, responsible consumption and production, and quality education, creating a more sustainable and resilient future for all. Education is not only a key tool for raising awareness but also a catalyst for change, inspiring students to become advocates, leaders, and drivers of positive environmental action.


We can do this together.

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