Regional Experts Meeting on Climate Change Education for Sustainable Development in the Arab States (Beirut, 5‐7 May 2015)

I. Organization of the expert meeting

Introduction

In the Arab region, climate change has already affected people’s livelihoods and lives. There is evidence of prominent increases in the intensity and frequency of many extreme events such as heat waves, tropical cyclones, prolonged dry spells, intense rainfall, tornadoes, thunderstorms and severe dust storms in the region. Furthermore, the region is highly subject to natural hazards, such as desertification, earthquakes and landslides. Such impacts pose additional risks for already vulnerable communities striving to combat poverty and achieve sustainable development.

Climate change poses a serious and additional threat to water resources, agriculture and rural communities in the region, especially in remote areas, post‐conflict countries, dry lands and deserts; countries with limited natural resources, communication and transportation networks/systems are particularly impacted. These developments jeopardize the achievement of the current Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), as well as the transition towards Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the region.

Education in general and Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in particular play an essential role in increasing the adaptation and mitigation capacity of communities and nations in regard to climate change by enabling individuals to make informed decisions. Quality climate change education for sustainable development (CCESD) designed with the purpose of empowering people to address climate change and sustainability issues improves the adaptation capacities of affected communities. It should be enhanced by educational programmes that explicitly prepare communities for natural disasters. Furthermore, it needs to incorporate sustainable knowledge, and promote sustainable lifestyles and development in which the importance of heritage is recognized as an integral part of community identity and an important asset that can help building resilience. Finally, CCESD can stress the unique cultural and natural heritage of countries in the region, which plays an important role in the building of community resilience.

While education plays a key role in strengthening adaptation and mitigation capacities, such capacities are also needed to equip education systems and infrastructures to prepare for climate change. Entire school communities ‐ including local education authorities, administrative staff, teachers and parents ‐ must be prepared to ensure a climate‐safe and climate‐friendly school environment. Adaptation needs also must be taken into account when constructing new schools that are safe and have a climate‐resilient design. Education for mitigation should be supported by sustainable schools and campuses that serve as a learning laboratory for students to demonstrate and further deepen understanding of the principles learned in the classroom. Furthermore, the capacity of education systems to respond to new migration streams caused by climate change impacts – or to new skill requirements due to a changing environment – needs to be included in education strategies for adaptation to climate change