New Doha Work Programme to boost climate change education

Hope for wider climate change education springs from Doha, as the last Conference of Parties (COP) end with a commitment for better cooperation and support for learning initiatives.

The newly formed United Nations Alliance on Climate Change Education, Training and Public Awareness (UNACCETPA) has drafted a Work Programme on the implementation of Article 6 of the Convention was drafted at the 18th COP in DOha, Qatar on December 3, 2012.

The Doha Work Programme is seen as a framework for providing "coordinated support for Article 6 implementation, building on existing initiatives and collaborations."*

Article 6 recognizes education, training, public awareness, public access to information, public participation and international cooperation as important elements of the commitment of Parties to the Convention. Under this Article, Parties are mandated to promote climate change learning and implement education and training programs.

The Doha Work Programme is to be implemented under the guidance of the following principles:
a) A country-driven approach;
b) Cost-effectiveness;
c) Flexibility;
d) Gender and an intergenerational approach;
e) (e)A phased approach integrating Article 6 activities into existing climate change programmes and strategies;
f) Promotion of partnerships, networks and synergies, in particular synergies between conventions;
g) An interdisciplinary multi-sectoral, multi-stakeholder and participatory
h) A holistic, systematic approach;
i) The principles of sustainable development.**

The Work Programme could be a useful tool for non-government organizations and other groups already involved in climate change education, for it could provide means for educators to link up and share resources. It also gives new opportunities for learning, as some Parties like the European Union have already pledged to give support for climate change education initiatives.

Though a long time in coming, the Work Programme also responds to the needs and conditions of the current state of education and communication. As such, it expands the definition and methods of education, having recognized the roles of social media and non-governmental organizations in raising public consciousness about climate change.

The Doha Work Programme will be implemented by all Parties to the Convention, with leadership from the new UNACCETPA. The UNACCETPA was founded by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the UNFCCC Secretariat, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), with the UNFCCC Secretariat providing the Secretariat for the Alliance.

However, there remains the danger that the promising Doha Work Programme and UNACCETPA will fall short of the goals they are intended to accomplish. The Work Programme should be steered to the path of Education for Sustainable Development, preparing the learners not only for disaster responses as seems to be the trend in climate change education, but also for adaptation to climate change and educating the people on the root cause and long-term solution to climate change. The UNACCETPA, likewise, is looked upon to support initiatives that push for holistic education and be the link among educators who are working now in isolation or intimate networks. Hope may have sprung from Doha, but it is up to the people, the stakeholders, to turn hopes into reality.

*http://www.unitar.org/un-alliance-climate-change-education-training-and-public-awareness-launched-cop-18
**Doha Work Programme