News from the Columbia Climate School

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Charting a Roadmap for Radical, Transformative Change in the Midst of Climate Breakdown

jeffrey sachs and kids on staircase
Eco-Ambassadors meeting Professor Jeffrey Sachs at the International Conference on Sustainable Development at Columbia University, September 2019. Photo: Radhika Iyengar

It is rare that academicians, community mobilizers, non-governmental organizations, school students, teachers and local level organizations come together to discuss two important topics: education and climate change. A workshop on April 29 will do exactly that.

Organized by Radhika Iyengar from the Center for Sustainable Development at the Earth Institute, Columbia University, and Christina Kwauk from the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution, the workshop will discuss the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 4.7, which aims to incorporate sustainable development into education. More specifically, the goal is, by 2030, to

“ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.”

This workshop will parse out Sustainable Development Goal 4.7 and highlight its inter-linkages with climate change. The workshop will use the Brookings Report as the basis of discussion and engage in a discussion with a wider audience. This event is a part of the virtual Conference of International Education Society. Register here.

The event will start with a poetry recitation from Jahnavi Bhatt, a creative writer from Millburn, New Jersey. The keynote for the workshop will be given by Professor Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Center for Sustainable Development at the Earth Institute, Columbia University. Professor Sachs will set the stage for the workshop and share his vision.

The workshop will get its inspiration from Bob Jickling, associate professor at Lakehead University, and long-time environmental educator. Nidhi Thakur from Kean University and Heila Lotz-Sisitka from Rhodes University will discuss entry points to systems transformation needed for radical climate action by education systems. Jeffrey Schlegelmilch, deputy director of Columbia University’s National Center for Disaster Preparedness, will talk of disaster management skills that students need to have.

The U.N. and international non-governmental organizations are represented by Priyadarshani Joshi from Global Monitoring Report; UNESCO, who will be discussing the SDGs and the next five years; Frank Neopold from NOAA, who will be discussing how to reorient the monitoring and accountability mechanisms and the incentive structures of our current education systems. Adriana Valenzuela from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and Jess Coke from Plan International will present their views as well.

The non-profits sphere is navigated by Caroline Lewis from the CLEO Institute and Kartikeya Sarabhai from the Center for Environmental Education in India. They will be showcasing some of the successes and challenges regarding integrating education and climate. Anna Bertmar Khan of Dubai Cares will share her perspective as a donor.

Community-based initiatives are key to getting local action on climate. We will hear from Priya Patel and Vanita Gangwal from Millburn, New Jersey; John Mugabo from Rwanda; Srinivas Akula from Telangana India; and Cherelle Jackson from Samoa.

Getting back to school, we will hear from William Bertolotti from Plainedge High School in New York, Antonia Wulff from Education International, and Abby Ruskey of the Athena Group on the support that teachers will require. Aalok Bhatt and Vidya Bindal are the youth voices who have shown how to make a difference with their climate action in their schools and community.

The one factor that ties all of this together is the communications: How can these ideas and actions be communicated effectively? Climate journalist Sahana Gosh from Mongabay India will share the techniques she uses in her writing to communicate the climate urgency to her readers.

The program will end with quotes from the Bhagvad Gita by Gopal Patel, director of the Bhumi Project in the U.K.

The event will be livestreamed on the Center for Sustainable Development’s Eco-Ambassador Facebook page. Register here.

Science for the Planet: In these short video explainers, discover how scientists and scholars across the Columbia Climate School are working to understand the effects of climate change and help solve the crisis.
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