Equip youth in developing countries with green skills to solve unprecedented climate challenges

ReliefWeb on 23 October 2023

— Equipping young people in developing countries with green skills is a vital component of tackling the unprecedented climate crisis we are facing.

This was the message from Education Above All (EAA) Foundation, one of the largest global foundations in development and education, participating in the 2023 MENA Climate Week.

Hosted by the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Riyadh the event gathered policymakers, practitioners, businesses, and civil society to discuss and examine barriers to overcome climate change, solutions, and global initiatives to address the situation.

Addressing delegates in the ‘Integrating Climate Change Education into the Education Systems in the MENA region” panel discussion, Mr Abdulla Al-Abdulla , the Executive Director of Reach Out To Asia (ROTA), an EAA Foundation programme said: “The impacts of climate change, from shifting weather patterns to rising sea levels, are felt globally, and the challenges posed are unprecedented in scale. Moreover, the largest generation of youth in history, nearly 90% of 1.8 billion individuals aged 10-24, reside in developing countries.”

He continued: “These young people hold the key to our collective future, but they are disproportionately affected by the climate crisis, despite bearing the least responsibility for it. Education is a powerful tool in bridging the knowledge and gap in skills that young people face in addressing climate change.”

To address this issue, EAA’s Reach Out To Asia (ROTA), has embarked on a new mandate this year focused on Education for Climate Action with three main focus areas; Greening Learning, Greening Communities, and Greening Refugee Camps.

These focus areas intend to integrate climate education into secondary school curricula and build the capacity of teachers and facilitators; equip young people with the knowledge and green skills they need to take climate actions in their communities; and develop relevant knowledge and skills for refugee youth to lead climate actions within these camps to foster sustainability.

Concluding his address Al Abdulla said:

“Our belief is that when young individuals understand the issues, acquire green skills, and develop the values and attitudes necessary for climate action, they can become the driving force behind tangible change in their communities.”

ROTA’s approach to climate education focuses on cognitive, socio-emotional, and behavioural domains, prioritising the behavioural domain to encourage and empower youth to make sound climate actions using their acquired knowledge and green skills.

These initiatives align with national and regional climate plans, including Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), supporting climate mitigation, adaptation, and resilience as defined by the OECD.

ROTA–EAA Foundation runs various global projects aimed at equipping youth with green skills, knowledge, values, and attitudes for sustainable living. In Vietnam, ROTA collaborates with ActionAid to empower young community leaders in driving climate action and connect youth in a national network to influence decision-makers.

Recently, ROTA–EAA Foundation also launched the Green Youth 360 project with the Girl Child Network in Kenya, empowering youth in refugee camps with skills like tree planting, beekeeping, agriculture, environmental cleanup, and renewable energy, to address environmental challenges.