Education at all levels plays a central role in determining the adaptation capacity to climate change. In this sense, it is important to create and promote a clear education agenda promoting knowledge and skills to reduce vulnerabilities and manage the risks of climate change. However, many initiatives fail to generate long-term impacts because capacity building is treated only as an addition. Working with formal education systems can reach a large part of the population therefore, integrating aspects on climate change and adaptation in the curriculum will harness long-term results.
The Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) approach has demonstrated how it can effectively reduce climate risks, while providing additional benefits to the communities. Therefore, education should integrate EbA into education curriculum to promote a thorough understanding of the role of ecosystems for resilience building of livelihoods and enable learners to take action.
The roadmap towards integrating EbA into curricula will depend on the unique situation of each educational institution. To integrate EbA in school subjects such as chemistry, physics and ecology it is important that there is emphasis on understanding the climate system and the impacts of climate change, while exploring the relationship with the ecosystem functions. For example, in ecology the role of ecosystem goods and services is important for climate change adaptation and mitigation and even for reducing disaster risks. Tree planting activities in coastal areas, for example, offer multiple benefits such as carbon sinks (mitigation), buffer against coastal floods and erosion, and protection of watershed or water catchment areas. In physics, it can increase the understanding of how the climate system functions, the drivers of climate change and the difference between climate variability and climate change. While in chemistry it can analyse the problems arising from climate change and causing ocean acidification to inform EbA coastal solutions.
Suggested steps for the design of contents and objectives of the EbA curriculum is described in the new publication from the Ecosystem-based Adaptation through South-South Cooperation (EbA South): Integrating Ecosystem-based Adaptation in Education Curriculum: A Resource Guide. The reference guide is designed to support teachers and environmental educators to incorporate the key aspects of EbA into formal or non-formal education curriculum and enable the educators at the different levels (primary, secondary, university) from diverse subject areas to introduce EbA across curriculum.
The guide suggests three steps as a general guidance on determining the focus of the curriculum. The steps include: (1) Planning for EbA curriculum development; (2) Preparing the EbA curriculum; and (3) Including field activities for EbA education. Furthermore, it provides guiding notes on different aspects and steps for the design of a curriculum, which reflects the principles of EbA.
Two aspects on how to make EbA relevant for all education levels are particularly interesting: (i) Look for local case studies: Experience has demonstrated that students will often refer to examples close to their homes and communities. This is especially relevant for EbA, where the measures aim to address the local context and needs; and (ii) Seek collaboration with other actors: Contact local environmental organisations to request relevant materials and lectures from practitioners.