Education, Training and Public Awareness: The Bread and Butter of Capacity Building
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
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Sustainability can be learned about and nurtured by means of knowledge sharing, including through education, training and awareness-raising programmes and initiatives.

The 7th meeting of the Durban Forum on Capacity-building will provide an opportunity for state and non-state actors engaged in the delivery of capacity-building activities to share their experiences and exchange ideas, best practices and lessons learned on enhancing capacities for the implementation of NDCs in the context of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

An overarching topic of enhancing capacities for NDC implementation will also be discussed at the second meeting of the Paris Committee on Capacity-building.

Capacity building is the cornerstone of any implementation action geared towards achieving the 17 UN SDGs by 2030. If we are committed to producing a meaningful shift in the way we address sustainability, and to enhancing the efficiency of current approaches to it, capacity building is the key which offers all involved stakeholders the possibility of abandoning their role as passive spectators, and becoming engaged actors of change.

Capacity building also provides the basis for making the appropriate choices, whether by a mayor redesigning the energy plan of a metropolis, a farmer choosing which seeds to plant in a drought-affected region, or a commuter considering options on how to go to work. Wherever we live in the North or the South, capacity building is a universal tool for forging the path to sustainability, to a genuinely global way of life.

How do we build the capacity to enhance the quality of life of future generations? Sustainability, from basic daily actions to complex development agendas, can be learned about and nurtured by means of knowledge sharing, including through education, training and awareness-raising programmes and initiatives.

National communications (NCs), biennial reports (BRs) and biennial update reports (BURs) submitted during the past five years to the UNFCCC Secretariat provide evidence for an increase in the number of countries where climate change has been mainstreamed across various education channels and integrated in formal school curricula, in particular in primary and secondary schools. Once teachers have received training on climate science concepts, they can help younger generations to understand the impacts of climate change, and the importance of incorporating an environmentally friendly behavior and attitudes in their daily lives. With their enhanced awareness of climate change threats and responses to those threats, children and young students are becoming engaged agents of change, including within their families and circles of friends.

The 6th meeting of the Dialogue on Action for Climate Empowerment will focus on public awareness, public participation and public access to information.

At higher education levels, countries are reporting efforts undertaken to build the capacity of new generations of climate scientists to deepen their knowledge of a rapidly evolving science and to master interdisciplinary approaches linked to climate change. At the same time, universities continue to be drivers of innovation, and academia, as a repository of authoritative scientific information, is increasingly supporting policymakers in shaping cross-sectoral implementation of mitigation and adaptation actions.

Non-formal education initiatives and programmes are also crucial to catalyze public interest in sustainability pathways. Websites, newspaper articles, television programmes and movies, as well as the greening of schools, museums and market halls, contribute to raising awareness among citizens on climate change causes, impacts and solutions. In national reports submitted to the UNFCCC, there is a wide recognition of the role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in increasing public sensitivity to environmental and development problems, and fostering a sense of personal environmental responsibility and commitment towards sustainable development policies and actions, in particular at the local and grassroots levels.

Knowledge hubs, centers of excellence and networking, including in the form of conferences and forums, are other important vehicles for the dissemination, sharing and exchange of knowledge, good practices and lessons learned on sustainable development issues. In the area of climate change, a growing number of programmes and events organized under the auspices of the UNFCCC facilitate the exchange of information, experience, good practices and lessons learned among Parties and non-Party stakeholders, at the same time providing learning opportunities.

The Nairobi Work Programme on impacts, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change (NWP), the Durban Forum on Capacity-building, the Dialogue on Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE), the NAP Expo, focused on national adaptation plans (NAPs), and NDC Regional Dialogues, focused on nationally determined contributions (NDCs) and organized together with the UN Development Programme (UNDP), are all examples of knowledge platforms facilitating the exchange of information and experiences on specific topics cutting across climate change and other areas identified in the SDGs.

Two of the above-mentioned platforms will be active during the UN Climate Change Conference taking place from 30 April to 10 May 2018 in Bonn, Germany. The 7th meeting of the Durban Forum on Capacity-building, organized under the auspices of the UNFCCC Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI), will provide an opportunity for state and non-state actors engaged in the delivery of capacity-building activities to share their experiences and exchange ideas, best practices and lessons learned on enhancing capacities for the implementation of NDCs in the context of the Paris Agreement on climate change. The information exchange, to take place on 3 May 2018, will be geared towards the identification of ways to address capacity-building gaps and needs reported by developing countries relating to NDC implementation, including through enhanced coordination and collaboration efforts at global and regional levels. Discussions on cross-cutting issues emerging in the context of NDC implementation, such as gender responsiveness and human rights, are also featured on the agenda.

An overarching topic of enhancing capacities for NDC implementation will also be discussed at the second meeting of the Paris Committee on Capacity-building (PCCB), a capacity building-dedicated expert group established by the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UNFCCC in 2015 as part of the adoption of the Paris Agreement, with the objective of addressing gaps and needs, both current and emerging, in implementing capacity building in developing countries. The complementarity of the topics discussed within these two meetings will ensure that the outcomes of the Durban Forum feed into the PCCB discussions and contribute to its deliberations on this issue.

Another exchange platform with a format similar to that of the Durban Forum is the Dialogue on ACE, which also provides a space for Parties and other stakeholders to share their experiences, good practices and lessons learned in the implementation of Article 6 of the UNFCCC relating to climate change education, training, public awareness, public participation, public access to information and international cooperation. The 6th meeting of the Dialogue, also to be hosted by the Bonn Climate Change Conference on 8 and 9 May 2018, will focus on public awareness, public participation and public access to information, and discuss the extent to which gender considerations are being integrated in ACE implementation.

The Skype broadcast of the 7th meeting of the Durban Forum and the webcast of the 6th meeting of the Dialogue will provide an opportunity for participants and external stakeholders involved in implementation actions not only to have up-to-date information on the progress made in the capacity building-related areas considered in these two events, but also to replicate and upscale identified good practices shared during the discussions.


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