Schools all over Ireland are partaking in a student summit this year to help improve climate education.
Taking place at the same time as next month’s gathering of world leaders for the UN Climate Change Conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, the Climate and Nature Summit will provide free online video sessions to help teachers in Ireland provide better climate education.
The summit will be opened by former president and former UN Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson and has the support of An Taoiseach Micheál Martin. It runs from the 7th – 11th November.
“We are living through a planetary crisis. We need to pull out all the stops to reverse climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution,” said Alex Whyatt, Global Citizenship Education Coordinator for the environmental organisation Global Action Plan, one of the organisations involved in the event.
“We know that education is key to responding to our changing climate. Education can support students to build identities as active citizens, taking informed decisions for a future that will require knowledge, creativity and ingenuity. The Climate and Nature Summit is critical as it helps teachers in Ireland to prepare their students for complex new realities,” said Whyatt.
The Climate and Nature Summit was started by the Irish Schools Sustainability Network (ISSN) in 2021. It arose out of a concern among Irish teachers that students weren’t aware of the global discussions and commitments that would affect their future. Last year, 3000 teachers participated in the first Climate and Nature Summit.
The Climate and Nature Summit is an opportunity for primary and secondary teachers and students in Ireland to engage more deeply with the causes and consequences of climate change. The summit aims to start whole-of-school nature conversations, to challenge climate apathy, and to influence wider communities with climate action.
“Climate and nature education is multifaceted and complex. We assume that teachers are climate and ecologically literate when, in fact, they often lack confidence in this area, and need support.
We have organised and coordinated this summit to help address a deficit in the education system,” said Dr Patrick Kirwan, founder of the Irish Schools Sustainability Network.
This year’s Summit will offer a week’s worth of video lessons on a range of climate-related themes that teachers can choose to show in their classrooms.
The video lessons, hosted by experts, focus on climate themes that teachers may not feel comfortable with: climate psychology, climate comedy, fossil fuel subsidies, a just transition in Ireland, and greenwashing. Teachers will be further supported through training sessions and panel discussions, courtesy of the Education Support Centres Ireland.
“We are at crisis point in relation to climate change and we believe education holds the key to turning this situation around. Through our collaboration with the Climate and Summit Nature, ESCI with 21 Education Support Centres will reach into every school in Ireland to encourage school communities to attend, to listen, to contribute and to return to their schools with a commitment and an action plan to mitigate climate change.” said Assumpta O’Neill of the Climate Action Committee at the Education Support Centres Ireland
As at COP27, the Climate and Nature Summit emphasises a partnership approach, with primary and secondary students and teachers, Education Support Centres, and NGOs contributing to the event. In addition, the video lessons will be facilitated by subject matter experts, such as Eoghan Daltun, author of An Irish Atlantic Rainforest, clinical psychologist Eoin Galavan, and comedian Colm O’Regan.
“The summit is testament to the power of partnerships as it brings together educational organisations, teachers, students, and experts in the community to develop high quality, engaging, up-to-date, thought provoking sessions,” said Dr Kirwan. “We look forward to welcoming teachers and students to the event. We invite classes to register for the event at issn.ie.”
The Climate And Nature Summit is an initiative by the Irish Schools Sustainability Network, in partnership with Eco-Unesco, Education Support Centres Ireland, Education for Sustainability and Global Action Plan.
The Irish Schools Sustainability Network (ISSN), a grassroots movement, was set up to provide a forum for teachers and students to work in partnership to accelerate climate action, address the loss of nature, and prioritise sustainability in the Irish Education System. The ISSN aims to disrupt the culture of apathy and acceptance and foster a culture of agency and empowerment.
For more information about the Summit, see https://www.issn.ie/summit.
Registration is free for schools and teachers. To register for the event, visit https://www.issn.ie/register-2022