United Nations: India has called for revamping climate education, stressing the need to incorporate key aspects of climate change in children's literature, films as well as gaming apps and said such efforts will help the current and next generations act more quickly to address the causes of climate change.
Addressing the 'Interactive Dialogue on Harmony with Nature' on the occasion of the 10th Mother Earth Day, India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin said "education and climate action work together in several ways".
"Education fills knowledge gaps, challenges apathy towards the need for climate action and education furnishes across a broader base, the technical knowledge needed to build a better future through innovation - one that includes clean and safe energy, sustainable agriculture and smarter cities," he said on Monday.
Akbaruddin said that facts were easy to ignore, but experiences are not. "We need to heed to this wisdom and revamp climate education to become more personal and experiential, and that too in smart, innovative and fun ways. Education is an asset and a force multiplier for Climate Action. It advances climate change awareness, risk perception, climate adaptation and mitigation goals".
He said that education and equipping rural and urban communities to build resilience against natural disasters, adapt to environmental changes, and manage potential risk, cannot be confined to classrooms.
"Non-school initiatives need to take over," Akbaruddin said, adding outdoor time, hands-on activities, and discussion of the social and economic aspects of humanity's relationship with the natural world, were all integral parts of environmental education.
"But going forward, educating the young and the coming generations about climate change and their role to preserve the planet can take on varied forms".
He said literary writers need to focus on climate change issues in children's literature, mainstream films can consider ways to incorporate key aspects of climate change in their stories and as gaming apps gain popularity, such apps can integrate climate change issues as themes.
"These are all different means of educating different segments of populations about environmental sustainability and the impacts of climate change on food, water, nutrition and health," he added.
Assembly President Marfa Fernanda Espinosa, addressing the opening segment of an interactive dialogue on the commemoration, emphasised that education is the key to a sustainable future since young people must be equipped with knowledge and skills.
Before the start of the interactive dialogue, Espinosa called on the participants and members states to observe a minute of silence to pay tribute to the victims of the terror attacks in Sri Lanka that killed 321 people and injured more than 500.
Noting that fortunately, the next generation is better educated and more committed to reducing their own carbon footprint than the previous generation was, Akbaruddin said, efforts focusing on education will hopefully make them and everyone else "act more quickly to address the causes of Climate Change; make us more willing to mitigate the damage it can cause and help us make greater efforts to adapt to its effects".
He asserted there is no doubt an educated and aware population that is sensitized to its planetary footprint will be better equipped and more disposed to addressing the problems of the planet.
"We witness that the millennials are much more tuned to the environmental issues, precisely because of the education that they received. In due course, they are likely to have a bigger impact," he said.
In India, where historically knowledge passed through traditional and informal means has been the process for inculcating the values to revere mother earth, in recent years, the country has taken on more active policies for environment and climate education.
Akbaruddin also said that in 1991, the Supreme Court of India provided directives on environmental education and in 2003, it issued directives to educational institutions across the country, laying down the compulsory mainstreaming of environment education.
The landmark judgment resulted in over 300 million students in 1.3 million schools and over 600 universities having compulsory lessons on environment and climate change in their curriculum.
Citing the example of the "Science Express Climate Action Special", an innovative mobile science exhibition, mounted on a 16-coach train, which is a unique collaborative initiative of India's Department of Science and Technology, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) and Ministry of Railway, he said, "In over a decade, it has travelled over 142,000 km, all over India and been visited by more than 15 million school children.
"Historically, conservation of nature and natural resources was an innate aspect of the Indian psyche and faith," he said. An example of traditional practice in India, which has made a profound contribution to conservation in its villages, has been the maintenance of patches of land or forests as 'sacred groves' dedicated to a local deity and is thereby protected.
"Scientist once ridiculed the idea of a living planet, not any more. The Earth today is just as alive as you are," he said.
Marking the International Mother Earth Day, UN chief Ant=nio Guterres said it was vital "every day to commit to taking better care of the planet".
"Please do everything in your power to tackle climate change the defining issue of our time," he said in a tweet.