Institutions representing close to 850,000 students and networks representing approximately 7500 institutions, across six continents, have signed a letter declaring a Climate Emergency and committing to tackle it by equipping "the young minds that are shaped by our institutions ... with the knowledge, skills and capability to respond to the ever-growing challenges of climate change."
This will be the first time further and higher education establishments come together to make a commitment to address climate change. Over 10,000 institutions of higher and further education are expected to join before the end of 2019, with governments invited to support their leadership with incentives to take action.
The letter is collectively organised by the EAUC, an alliance for sustainability leadership in educational institutions in the UK and Ireland, Second Nature, a US-based higher education climate action organization, and UN Environment’s Youth and Education Alliance ahead of the Climate Action Summit due to take place in September, 2019. Signatories have agreed to undertake a three-point plan which they will deliver through work with students:
- Mobilizing more resources for action-oriented climate change research and skills creation;
- Committing to going carbon neutral by 2030 or 2050 at the very latest;
- Increasing the delivery of environmental and sustainability education across curriculum, campus and community outreach programmes.
This declaration recognises “the need for a drastic societal shift to combat the growing threat of climate change”, and emphasises the role of young people in bringing about change.
Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UN Environment said, “young people are increasingly at the forefront of calls for more action on climate and environmental challenges. Initiatives which directly involve the youth in this critical work are a valuable contribution to achieving environmental sustainability.”
Young people around the world have been anxious about institutional and governmental outlooks towards the climate emergency and shown great initiative towards approaching it. This proposal does not just encourage and propose such initiatives further, but will also equip institutions with the “knowledge, skills and capability to respond to the ever-growing challenges”.