A Message Ahead of COP29: Education in emergencies is crucial to climate action for crisis-affected and displaced children and youth

As part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) 60th Session of the Subsidiary Body, being held in Bonn, Germany, an Expert Dialogue on Children and Climate Change is taking place on 4 June 2024. This session leads into COP29 (scheduled for November 2024 in Baku, Azerbaijan), and carries forward the new momentum from COP28 (which took place in December 2023 in Dubai, UAE) to prioritise education in the climate change conversation.

A quality education is every child’s right. Yet the impact of climate change on education, and the ways education can address climate change, have largely been overlooked in climate change discussions and policies.

Furthermore, it’s clear that climate change disproportionately affects the education of children and youth impacted by crisis and displacement. Some 62 million crisis-affected children and adolescents in 27 countries have had their education disrupted by climate hazards since 2020, deepening the challenges faced by the most marginalised – especially girls, minority groups, refugee and displaced children, and children with disabilities.

Climate change can affect education in many ways. For example, the 2022 floods in Pakistan fully or partially damaged at least 25,993 education institutions, affecting the education of more than 3.5 million school-aged children. In Somalia, which has been severely affected by drought in 2023, water scarcity is one of the main causes of school closures. But the consequences of climate change can also impact education indirectly; climate-change related loss of income and livelihoods can force families to withdraw children from school, especially girls, as they cannot meet education costs In addition, high temperatures induced by climate change can disproportionately affect children’s health and cognitive development, hindering children’s ability to learn, concentrate, process, and retain information.

It is increasingly recognised that education is one of the most powerful tools to equip children and youth with the knowledge and skills to adapt to climate change and undertake climate action while, at the same time, the disruption of their education prevents children and youth from taking efficient climate action. In a crisis, education can be the entry point for wrap-around services that are tailored to local needs. These can include life-saving messages on health, sanitation, and how to be safe from violence, trafficking, unexploded ordnance, and diseases. It can also encompass school meals, family tracing and reunification services, psychosocial support, support to children and youth with disabilities, and protection referrals, including for survivors of gender-based violence.

This is why the Geneva Global Hub for Education in Emergencies (EiE Hub) – with leading contributions from Education Cannot Wait (ECW), the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and UNESCO – submitted an input to the UNFCCC’s call for input to the Expert Dialogue on Children and Climate Change, which reiterates these key facts about EiE and climate change. The input highlights the important contribution that education – particularly in crisis contexts – can make to address the consequences of climate change, pointing to a wide range of policy solutions and best practices.

COP28, in Dubai, provided a new spotlight on education, as for the first time ever, one day was solely dedicated to youth, children, education and skills. Since then, 37 countries have signed a groundbreaking Declaration on the Common Agenda for Education and Climate Change, the first global political acknowledgment of the critical link between education and climate action as foundational to ensuring a resilient and sustainable future for all children. The importance of education in emergencies in enabling climate action for crisis-affected and displaced children and youth who are disproportionally affected by climate change must be reaffirmed and re-emphasised as we move towards COP29 in Azerbaijan.

Read the EiE Hub’s input here.


The EiE Hub is an alliance of 52 entities – including States, funds, international organisations and procedures, civil society organisations, private foundations, an international financial institution, the ICRC and the International Federation of the Red Cross, and academic entities – committed to presenting a unified voice in shaping and influencing education in emergencies (“EiE”), stepping up visibility, political and operational commitments, and funding for EiE.