A Snapshot of Climate Change Education Initiatives in Europe

Initial findings and implications for future Climate Change Education

This ALLEA report contains recommendations based on an on-line survey of existing initiatives complemented by educational research literature and the expertise of the scholars who conducted this work.

A Snapshot of Climate Change Education Initiatives in Europe
Image: ALLEA

UNESCO acknowledges “Climate change as a real and rapidly-evolving threat for humanity” and “strives to ensure that all generations understand the impact of climate change and are better equipped to take action to protect resources, the environment and the planet that sustains life, as enshrined in SDG 13” and advocates “the importance of education as a key element of the response to climate change”(UNESCO 2019).

There is a dearth of research that provides an overview of different climate change education (CCE) initiatives currently available throughout Europe. This scoping review maps a sample of current CCE initiatives in a non-exhaustive way, to identify commonalities, gaps, and best practices in CCE. It is intended that the findings from this scoping survey would inform a more representative large-scale survey of CCE initiatives throughout Europe. While the sample in the current study is relatively small, it yielded informative and relevant findings that are particularly timely taking cognisance that climate change is one of the key challenges identified by the European Commission in their 2020 Work Plan (EU 2020).

To gain an insight into CCE in Europe an online survey was developed and administered to ALLEA’s more than 50 science academies requesting that the survey be shared with relevant universities, education providers and outreach organisations that address climate change education in their work. The survey gathered 67 responses from 14 countries (11 from the European Union). Responses were compiled and collected for analysis. Descriptive statistics were used to analyse the responses from the survey to identify patterns and averages in the types of initiatives, scope, content, and age groups each initiative targets. In addition, content analysis was used to explore main themes across the open-ended responses related to the aims and descriptions of the initiatives.

Taking cognisance of the small sample the survey nevertheless provides a snapshot of existing CCE initiatives in Europe and identifies types, scope, content, and age groups each initiative targets which revealed some informative and timely findings.