As countries work to “build back better” from COVID-19, the education sector has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build back differently. Unprecedented school disruptions have laid bare how existing inequalities within our education systems, including those structured along the intersections of gender and poverty, are exacerbated in times of crisis. Yet COVID-19 school disruptions are only a sample of what is to come as extreme weather events and zoonotic disease transfer become a more regular occurrence in the context of ecological collapse and climate breakdown.

To leverage our present moment of disruption for good, the education community must begin to see how building back “better” from COVID-19 is intertwined with both the road to achieving the Paris Agreement’s 1.5 degrees Celsius target—the upper limit to global temperature rise necessary to minimize the impact on people and ecosystems—and the road to achieving greater gender equality in and through education. The values that drive the domination and exploitation of the natural world, which fuel climate change and increase humanity’s vulnerability to zoonotic disease transfer, are the same values that drive the oppression, exploitation, and violence against vulnerable groups, especially girls and women.

A post-COVID-19 vision must aim to radically transform the underlying economic systems of inequity and social structures of inequality that are at the root of our present suite of socioecological crises. While the vision must be determined from the bottom up, this paper attempts to define how we might get there.

Specifically, this paper presents a heuristic intended to provide climate and education decisionmakers with: 1) a framework for conceptualizing the green skills needed to catalyze both technical and social transformation and 2) a tool for considering three approaches to quality education for climate action.

Read the full article about green learning agenda by Christina Kwauk and Olivia Casey at Brookings.