Education, Training and Public Awareness on Climate Change

Kalipada Chatterjee       

The countries who are Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change have accepted certain commitments taking into account their common but differentiated responsibilities and other specific national and regional development priorities. To fulfill these commitments, the Parties need to promote and facilitate various education, training and awareness programmes at the national and regional levels as required under Article 6 of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, particularly the following:

At the National / Regional Level

The development and implementation of educational and public awareness programmes on climate change and its effects;
Public access to information on climate change and its effects;
Adopting a participatory process for addressing climate change and its effects. Similar approach should also be adopted in developing adequate responses to climate change and its effects; and
Organizing and providing to scientific, technical and managerial personnel for climate change mitigation

At the International Level

The development and exchange of educational and public awareness material on climate change;
The development and implementation of education and training programmes, including the strengthening of national institutions and the exchange is secondment of personnel to train experts in the field (in particular for developing countries).

Education, Training and Public Awareness in developing countries will facilitate capacity building to enable them to participate fully in and to implement effectively their commitments under the Convention, and for their effective participation in the Kyoto Protocol Process. However, education, training and awareness generation have to be country driven, addressing the specific needs and conditions of developing countries and reflecting their national sustainable development goals, priorities and strategies.

 The Marrakesh Accords also very clearly brought out the objective and scope of capacity building in developing countries. Education, training and public awareness have been identified as one of the important components of capacity building in developing countries but, since COP 1 in Berlin, not much has been done by different COPs and other international organizations to seriously take up the task. Besides the UNFCCC, the UNESCO has also a positive role to play in terms of mass awareness.

Development Alternatives’ Experiences

Development Alternatives’ sustainable livelihood approach towards development at grassroots is two-fold. One is learning by doing and the other is making the learning purposeful. TARAGram located in Orchha, Madhya Pradesh is the nurturing laboratory for the weaker section of the society. As an institution, it provides an in-built incentive through integration of education with livelihoods programme. Saharia is the most backward Scheduled Tribe of that region. Few years ago, Saharia women started working in TARAGram. Today, they have learnt the art of earning and earning. At the same time, their children study at TARAGram Primary School. Several initiatives like different saving schemes have made these women empowered enough to take their own decisions, carry out bank transaction and manage money matters all on their own.

The mission of TARAGram is to build the capacity of community members on techniques and institutions that can regenerate the resource base and make it available for utilization in an efficient, equitable and environmentally sound manner. TARAGram serves as a model to bring together social, environmental and technological knowledge to generate sustainable livelihoods through decentralized production systems. Such livelihoods are needed in large numbers throughout the developing world to improve material standards while maintaining the natural resource base. TARAGram manufactures products using biomass and other local raw materials. These, at present, include handicraft goods, hand made paper products, building materials and cooking energy devices; new ones are being added continually. In addition to serving as a demonstration facility for such livelihood technologies, TARAGram provides on-the-job and course-based training on micro-enterprises to those who wish to set up similar enterprises.

Another initiative of DA towards education and empowerment is - the first mother portal designed specifically for rural India - is currently being field tested in ten centers located 50 kilometers around TARAGram. This facility aims to empower the local communities through the latest advances in information technology.

Empowerment through Natural Resource Base

In 1989, Development Alternatives (DA) field office at Jhansi in Central India began promoting check dams as an appropriate intervention to rejuvenate the degraded natural resource base by recharging the groundwater aquifers in the Bundelkhand region and help the local inhabitants to escape the debt-poverty-migration trap. The sustainable livelihood approach to rural development can take several forms. In the case of the check-dam project, sustainable livelihoods were created through the intensification and extension of agriculture through enhanced water availability.

Villagers like Halda became involved with TARAGram in different ways. Some were approached in village meetings while others heard about the project through friends and family. News spread quickly about DA’s presence. One woman said, "people in the village used to say that there are foreigners here." Others heard about DA directly through the field staff. Many of the women said that what drew them to DA was the prospect of learning new things.

Moving towards Sustainability

One of the most tangible benefits of employment at TARAGram, highlighted by all of the women, is the income. Some of the women described their improved financial situation, saying: "Now we do not have a financial crunch — there are no worries, we can take care of our children now."

The vision behind TARAGram is not to provide some temporary work for the people, but rather provide sustainable livelihoods — a concept that encompasses social and economic development.

DA’s Capacity Building initiatives

Climate change is an emerging issue and in developing countries, which are more concerned with poverty alleviation, job creation etc., there is very little awareness on this subject. The low level of awareness about climate change among developing countries is an impediment in effective implementation of their common but differentiated commitments to the Convention on Climate Change and the protocol processes, particularly the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). The 7th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Marrakesh have further strengthened the need for capacity building of the developing countries on climate change and provided a framework.

Development Alternatives (DA) has been working on global climate change issues for over a decade. DA conceptualized a Climate Change Centre in 1997 to serve the requirements of global mechanisms to mitigate climate change. The Climate Change Centre carries out research on climate change including Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and Activities Implemented Jointly (AIJ) issues. The Centre works towards raising awareness on climate change and CDM through organizing issue based events, discussions, policy dialogues and contributing articles in newsletters and journals. It also provides consultancy services to the Indian business sector in developing and designing climate change mitigation projects. Based on its experience over a decade, Development Alternatives proposes to take up the task of building capacity on climate change at the State level in India.

Framework for Capacity Building

Capacity-building needs (already identified since COP 1 till date) must be comprehensively and promptly addressed to promote sustainable development in developing countries, taking into account that economic and social development and poverty eradication are the first and overriding priorities of the developing countries.
Capacity-building activities would be undertaken in an effective, efficient, integrated and programmatic manner, taking into consideration the specific national circumstances of the country and each state.
Capacity-building being a continuous, progressive and iterative process, the trickle down framework for local level capacity building is envisaged wherein a National Coordinator would serve as the focal point for coordinating capacity-building activities at the regional and local level. (The framework is shown schematically in figure 1).
Existing regional and local level institutions in the country have an important role to play in supporting capacity-building activities at local level. Such centres can incorporate traditional skills, knowledge and practices, to provide appropriate services and facilitate information sharing. Capacity-building efforts would, therefore, mobilize these existing regional and local level institutions in the country and build on existing processes and endogenous capacities.
"Learning by doing" being an effective method of capacity building, a few demonstration projects will be used in the process.

Suggested Organizational set up for capacity building

The following is the initial scope of needs and areas for capacity-building in develo-ping countries:

General awareness about climate change issues and anthropogenic contributions
Awareness about CDM related issues such as mitigation options, transfer of technologies and funds, baseline development, linkages between CDM and sustainable development, emissions reduction etc.
Training of officers at the state policy levels. Such training would enable them to incorporate climate change concerns in all decisions for implementing developmental activities
Helping the local level agencies in preparing greenhouse gas inventories, emission database management, and systems for collecting, managing and utilizing activity data and emission factors
Vulnerability and adaptation assessment
Setting up an enabling environment
Improved decision-making, including assistance for participation in international negotiations

Strategy for Awareness Generation at Local Level

Development Alternatives proposes to be the National Coordinator for capacity building and awareness generation and for setting up a National Centre at New Delhi. The National Centre would help in capacity building of five Regional Centres (RC) in the Western, Northern, Eastern, Central and Southern regions. The five Regional Centres would work further for propagation of knowledge and resources at the five State Centres (SC), each under the guidance of the NC.

The National Coordinator will ensure that the RCs are well equipped in terms of information and resources. To meet this end meet, the National Centre will facilitate a quality information centre on climate change and encourage establishing libraries in RCs and SCs.

The activities need to be planned to meet the objective commensurate with the resources: funds, experts, professionals and appropriate work environment. It is also proposed that the NC should organize training and capacity building workshops at the RCs and SCs.

Outcome of the Capacity Building Efforts

Capacity-building efforts at different levels would certainly facilitate developing countries in building, developing, strengthening, enhancing, and improving their capabilities to achieve the objective of the Convention through the implementation of the provisions of the Convention and the preparation for their effective participation in the Kyoto Protocol process that will, in a co-coordinated manner, assist them in promoting sustainable development while meeting the objective of the Convention. Efforts would be made so that capacity-building activities undertaken within this framework maximize synergies between the Convention and other global environmental agreements, as appropriate.

Tools for Mass Awareness

The first and foremost step in regard to education, training and public awareness is to develop a process nationally and regionally to prepare teaching material to impart education, training and create public awareness. This has to be done under a multi-tier approach. The IPCC and other UN organizations have over the years brought out considerable scientific and response strategy materials both on the science of climate change, its effects and adaptation. Such materials are however only for a very limited number of professionals who are benefited from these literatures and research materials.

Tool I: For Civil Society

Preparation of materials on climate change for the use and consumption of the common man, civil society, community (particularly for students at different levels of school education).

Tool II: For School Curriculum

There is a need to bring out small books on "What is Climate Change"; "How it affects our life - our economic prosperity and our health and other welfare"; and "How all of us together can save the environment for our benefit and for our future generations". These materials have to be in simple language that people understand as well as to introduce such an education as a part of school curriculum in primary, middle and at higher levels.

Tool III: Through a Participatory Process

To bring out small books and literature through a participatory process with the community that would provide linkages to their day to day life, their life style and how traditional knowledge of the common people can be integrated to some simple responses to climate change. Such books and literature must be written in the language and vocabulary they would easily understand with illustrations they are familiar with. This is a huge task but must be done with an urgency to impress upon the people how their actions today may not only help their present generation, but also the future generations, for a better and cleaner environment.

Tool IV: For Policy Makers

The next tier of activities should be to involve middle level and higher level of policy makers, decision makers, planners at the national and regional level to educate and train such categories of people on climate change. The idea is to enable them to integrate climate change concerns in all national and regional activities so that all our development activities are sustainable and would finally address to the main agenda of the developing countries - Poverty eradication and better quality of life for all.

Tool V: By Organizing Workshops and Seminars

District level, national level and regional level workshops and seminars should also be organized at regular intervals for faster dissemination and exchange of information among various groups and categories of people, communities, civil societies etc. Such a process will accelerate the process of education and training for officials, professionals and schoolteachers to update and exchange their knowledge and experiences.

Tool VI: Taking the help of Communication Media

Education, training and public awareness must also take the advantage of all



communication media like local newspapers, simple fact sheets, television, radio, village dramas, street plays etc.

External Funding

There is a considerable need for external funding to all the developing countries to address to this task of ‘Education, Training and Public Awareness’. In addition to the different agencies of the UN, individual rich and benevolent counties must come forward to provide funds through bi-lateral or multi-lateral processes on an urgent basis.

Measuring the Success

Measuring the success of the ETPA Programme in each country must be done systematically by means of several indicators for the society at different levels like the Government level, Business sector level, Community level, Local level (e.g. school level) and at the Individual level.

Few indicators suggested below may provide the efficacy of the "Six Tools" discussed:

Poverty reduction by measuring proportion of population below $ 1 a day every 5 years;
Measuring improvement of general public awareness on climate change as a percentage of the total population;
Measuring the increase in awareness on climate change among civil society, policy makers, regulators, industries;
Climate change introduced in the lower, middle and high school curriculum;
Proportion of land area covered by forests and land area protected for biological diversity;
Per capita Carbon dioxide emissions;
GDP per unit of energy use;
Prevalence of Malaria and mortality rates attached with it;
Proportion of population with sustainable access to an improved water source and safe water


This model of Education, Training and Public Awareness on Climate Change will certainly yield the desired results if it is implemented and monitored appropriately at the State level; Government level; primary, middle and high schools level; community level; and at the individual level.  q

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