December 3, 2015 marks the one-year anniversary of the Climate Education and Literacy Initiative. This Initiative was launched by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to help connect American students and citizens with the best-available, science-based information about climate change by increasing learning opportunities for students, equipping educators with science-based information and resources, enhancing climate-related professional development and training, and engaging citizens through place-based and informal climate education. The Initiative provides a way for leaders across sectors to work together to improve understanding of climate risks and solutions.
It is fitting that this milestone falls during the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris, where representatives of nearly 200 nations are now gathered to find ways to work together on addressing climate change. Climate literacy is a key theme at the COP21 meetings. Earlier this week, the U.S. Center hosted “Our Time to Lead: Youth Engagement on Climate Change,” and today, December 3, the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) and Universcience will hold an interactive video conference to engage young leaders around the world. Many students and educators from the United States and around the world are at events in Paris, amplifying the need for action back home, and participating through social media, using the hashtags #Youth4Climate and #COP21, bringing their knowledge and enthusiasm to the table.
Ensuring that the outcomes of COP21 are lasting and effective will require the support of a public that understands the fundamentals of the changing climate and what can be done through collective action to mitigate and prepare for climate change. Information and education are empowering, and a climate-smart citizenry can help the United States lead the global transition to a sustainable future.
Participants in the Climate Education and Literacy Initiative have so far included hundreds of educators, students, and engaged citizens. These leaders have reached tens of thousands directly through their work, and countless more through social media and by delivering quality educational resources online and through other channels. Key accomplishments and milestones achieved in support of the Initiative include, among many others:
The anniversary of the Climate Education and Literacy Initiative is a time to reflect on and celebrate the considerable accomplishments that have been made in climate education over the past 12 months. Efforts aligned with the Initiative will continue to elevate and support the vibrant community of educators and leaders who are dedicated to improving public knowledge and enabling green jobs through education. The more that people know about climate change, the better equipped they will be to implement solutions.
The Climate Education and Literacy Initiative, like all endeavors, is strengthened by diverse individuals and organizations contributing ideas and input. We invite you to join in by learning more about what the Administration is doing to address the threat of climate change, and by sharing your questions, comments, and stories using the hashtag #ActOnClimate.
Laura Petes is Assistant Director for Climate Adaptation and Ecosystems at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
Austin Brown is Senior Policy Analyst at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.