Why is environmental education important for youth?

Education and training are the main actions that governments must adopt to face climate change.

By Pamela Ogando
A young activist girl holds a sign that says: Climate action.
UNICEF/UN0364365/Aliaga Ticona
18 July 2022

The climate crisis is a crisis of rights for children. In Latin America and the Caribbean, it is estimated that 9 out of 10 are exposed to at least two overlapping climate and environmental crises.

Children are the least responsible for climate change, yet they will suffer its consequences the most, and for the longest time. But far from being passive victims, adolescents and youth in Latin America and the Caribbean are taking action and raising their voices to demand more ambitious, urgent and inclusive action.

A survey conducted in 2021 by UNICEF of youth climate activists in the region highlights how education and training is the main action governments should take to address climate change.

“The first thing is to respond with environmental education, so that children and youth can face the climate crisis informed and environmentally conscious”.
- María Lucía, 16 years old, Honduras.

A young activist shares his knowledge about natural biofertilizers with young people from his community

A broad group of activists highlighted the need to include environmental education as part of the formal system, especially in schools and at all levels of education.

Several young people specifically mentioned introducing the subject as part of the academic curriculum. In addition, they mentioned the importance of starting environmental education from an early age as a tool to raise awareness, care for the environment, face the challenges of climate change and achieve systemic and lasting behavioral change.

“Socio-environmental education in all areas, from childhood to adulthood, so that they can know what is happening and act accordingly”.
- Marco, 18 years old, Mexico

In addition, responses emphasize not only the importance of educating children and youth, but also adults, teachers, public servants, and the community.

Youth in Latin America and the Caribbean demand more concrete actions to advance environmental education.

Environmental education from an early age is a powerful tool to generate a paradigm shift and address the climate crisis in an inclusive way with childhood and youth.

Know the survey results by downloading the report here