While at the COP28 in Dubai, climate debates are entering their final phase, in Dakar, Tananarive, Tunis and Beirut, middle and high school students are taking on the role of negotiators for an exercise in simulated diplomacy. This “Youth COP” is aimed at helping them understand COP28 and the stakes involved.
From December 11 to 13, young people from French schools abroad will recreate international exchanges on the climate and work together to try to find a consensus on the exit from fossil fuels, nuclear power, food production and other aspects of the fight against global warming.
“During these simulations, students become aware of the challenges of international negotiations,” says Stéphanie Beney, AFD’s Citizenship and Education project manager. “They discover the diversity of actors, NGOs, scientists, but also the differences in positions between countries depending on their economic capacities and their vulnerability to climate change.”
Last month, researchers from the University of Rosario in Colombia published a study of the impact of climate change education on attitudes and behaviors of students (and their families and friends) around the world.
Focusing on schoolchildren aged 5 to 19 years and their entourages, the study concluded that “education to climate change based on innovative and critical teaching can help the next generation empower themselves and become informed and proactive stewards of the environment." It added that targeted education could also "bridge the knowledge-behavior gap that persists in the fight against climate change.”
The study – funded by AFD Group – also stressed the importance of adapting educational content to local contexts.
In Senegal, 200 students will participate in a COP on December 13. To support teachers, the AFD team in charge of awareness, advocacy and education offers them a series of training webinars and can answer their questions throughout the duration of the project.
Students in all countries involved have prepared for an exercise that is not only useful but also highly symbolic. Accompanied by their teacher throughout the school year, the students worked collaboratively using an educational kit produced by AFD Group.
Tested in numerous classes in France, the first educational kit focused on biodiversity, produced in partnership with the Ministry of National Education and Youth, the French Office for Biodiversity and the Landestini association, launched in September 2021.
Given its success, a new educational resource, this time focused on the climate, was launched in anticipation of COP28. The kit covers scientific aspects, negotiation techniques, and existing commitments. Students also benefit from “actor” sheets, which illustrate the specific situations of different countries, to put themselves in the shoes of different delegations at the COP.
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