British Council... Initiatives to promote climate education and science journalism

Writer: Salma Arafa - Translator: Amira Gawdat
الثلاثاء 21 مايو 2024 | 09:57 مساءً
Credit: British Council official website
Credit: British Council official website

Climate awareness is the password that must be used to confront the threats that besiege our planet and threaten the resources on which we depend, after the effects of climate change reached unprecedented levels.

The British Council works on a long list of projects, programs, curriculum, and initiatives.

The British Council is an international NGO that is interested in education and culture, raising the environmental awareness, scientific communication and overcoming obstacles facing those with skills in areas related to environmental protection.

In her interview with “Green in Arabic”, “Shaimaa Al-Banna”, the chief of education sector in the British Council, talked about how the council works on the integration of environmental issues into the curriculum they present through a group of variable educational projects, study and training opportunities that enable individuals to obtain the necessary knowledge and skills to take action on climate change.

The Council’s efforts is not only limited to presenting climate issues in its classrooms, but they extend beyond that through partnership opportunities with schools and training of teachers.

Science journalism

There is another goal that is being focused on, which is strengthening scientific media, which in turn raises climate awareness. In her speech, the chief of the education sector refers to organizing workshops targeting journalists and workers in the field of scientific communication, to provide them with the skills and knowledge necessary to produce high-quality digital content. Among them are methods of storytelling, data visualization, information verification, and how to benefit from digital platforms for scientific communication.

“Al-Banna” continued, pointing out that the British Council recognizes the increasing importance of digital platforms in scientific communication, and is using its own platforms to promote this type of content through many initiatives.

The Council's activities on scientific communication do not only target journalists. For example, the Council's “Researcher Connect” program provides opportunities for researchers to enhance their communication skills, especially in digital contexts.

Through courses, seminars, and workshops held online, researchers learn how to effectively communicate their work to different groups of audiences using digital tools and platforms, according to “Al-Banna”.

Through its platforms and channels on social media, the Council highlights research stories and innovative scientific projects, in addition to interacting with the public through these platforms, to facilitate conversations on scientific topics, and cooperate with various research institutions and with the media to enhance scientific communication efforts on digital platforms.

British Council at COP

Learning online power of strengthening communication about environmental issues showed through activities of the Council in the period prior to and during the conference of climate “COP 28” that was held in Dubai.

The chef of the educational sector referred to the cooperation took place between the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and the Council’s “Schools Connect” program to launch two online training courses, which recorded a record number of attendees with more than 21 thousand people from more than 100 countries, during the period between October and December 2023.

“COP 28” climate conference witnessed the issuance of the new research report about the climate education of the “School Content” program of the Council. It aimed at sharing the ways in which international NGOs can contribute to the prosperity of climate and sustainability education, through partnerships, dialogue, and mutual learning between education workers, decision-makers, youth, and children around the world. 

A large number of activities that are being executed by the British Council to tackle climate change are part of the the “Climate Connection” programme launched in the lead up to “COP 26” in Glasgow, Scotland.

Since 2020, the activities of the programme have reached more than 400 million people in more than 200 countries and regions, while the number of partners exceeded 7,600 partners around the world.

“Green in Arabic” reached “Nancy El-Amir”, the global Programme manager of the “Climate Connection” to tell us more about the activities of the program.

“El-Amir” said: “We helped more than 500 researchers at the beginning of their scientific journey to strengthen their ability working on solutions for issues of climate change and to widen their understanding to more specializations by providing scholarships, fellowships, and partnering with universities.”

The program, which focuses on youth, works on preparing climate leaders of this category, through several means, including grants provided by the British Council, which enhance the skills of change makers around the world with the leadership skills necessary to implement local solutions to climate change.

It also aims, through the “Climate Skills” program, to enhance the ability of local organizations to provide 12,000 young people with green skills until 2026, that involve practical knowledge and abilities needed for the effective use of eco-friendly technologies in professional settings. These skills encompass a range of knowledge, values, and attitudes that guide environmentally sustainable decision-making at work and in everyday life.

There is also cooperation between the program and technical and vocational education colleges in Britain and around the world in order to enhance these skills in non-traditional ways. For example, partnerships between UK and Moroccan institutions integrate innovative technology-based methods such as the use of virtual reality in green skills training.

Heritage protection

“Al-Amir” pointed out that the Cultural Protection Fund, which the British Council is delivering, contributes to preserving heritage at risk due to the phenomenon of climate change, and mitigates its effects on valuable cultural heritage in various parts of the world.

Since 2016, the British Council has provided £50 million in funding for around 150 projects in a number of countries including Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Palestine, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen.

According to the program Manager, the British Council is contributing to the protection of two Islamic monuments exposed to dangers related to climate change in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, namely the domes of “Safi al-Din Gohar” and “Yahya al-Shabi”, in addition to involving women and children in greening projects in urban areas of the capital.

Credit: Athar Lina InitiativeCredit: Athar Lina Initiative

In southern Iraq, the program works to protect the unique local heritage related to boat making, which is quickly disappearing due to climate change.

The manufacture of “mashahif”, which are wooden boats dating back thousands of years in Iraq, was affected by the severe drought that struck the marsh areas, which are a type of wetland that forms near rivers.

Regarding the future plans of the program, “Al-Amir” indicated that they are in the process of finalizing a new strategy that will determine the way in which they will continue to tackle the the climate challenges over the next three to five years, which will highlight the programme’s priorities, and include participation in upcoming climate conferences. “COP 29” is scheduled to be held in Azerbaijan, and “COP 30” is scheduled to be held in Brazil.

But there is another aspect of the matter that the programme manager pointed out, which is that the British council’s work to reduce the environmental impacts is resulting from the projects it implements.

“Al-Amir” said: “We have a social responsibility to reduce the carbon footprint of the projects and services we provide, as we continue to implement our plan to reduce carbon emissions by 33% compared to 2017, and we have pledged to reach net zero emissions by 2040.